News

Lewis Earns ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis today was awarded a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon was being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. See a photo from the event on the TBA's homepage.

read more »

NALS Raises $3,500 for Legal Aid

The Nashville Chapter of the National Association of Legal Professions (NALS) recently raised $3,350 for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee at its first annual NALS After Hours Silent Auction. The event raised awareness as well as funding for legal aid programs. NALS President Tiffany Burford Taylor of Waller praised the work of Legal Aid and said the chapter felt it was important to give back to the community and to make legal representation available to all. The NALS leadership said it hopes to make the auction an annual event. The 2014 date is tentatively set for July 10. Read more from the group's press release.

read more »

LAET Receives $20,000 Grant for Women In Crisis Project

Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s (LAET) Chattanooga office has been awarded a $20,000 grant to fund their “Women in Crisis Project" by the Community Foundation of Chattanooga. According to an announcement today, the project will screen, advise and assist victims of domestic violence in obtaining public benefits for which they may be eligible. The goal of the project is to break the cycle of domestic violence by creating financial independence. “Grants, especially private foundation grants, dealing with public benefits are exceedingly rare,” said Russell Fowler, LAET's associate director. "The Community Foundation should be commended for their foresight in recognizing the link between domestic violence and a victim’s financial dependence on their abuser.”

read more »

TBA Joins Military Pro Bono Campaign

The TBA has joined a nationwide effort to increase the number of lawyers committed to providing needed legal support to servicemembers, veterans and their families. Organized by Army OneSource, the Military Legal Assistance Campaign is focused on identifying and training volunteers who can assist families while a servicemember is deployed and help servicemembers when they return from overseas duty. Through its Access to Justice Committee, the TBA is recruiting lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance to these groups. “The sacrifices made by our servicemembers, as well as their families, are hard to fathom,” said TBA President Cindy Wyrick. “When legal issues add to these challenges, lawyers have a unique opportunity to provide assistance. I urge my colleagues to participate in this important program.” Learn more or sign up to help.

read more »

Report: Small Towns Doing Without Courthouse

A story from National Public Radio today highlights the challenges small towns face as courthouses close due to shrinking budgets. In the town of Coalinga, Calif., for example, traffic court is conducted by video streaming but for small claims cases and criminal arraignments, everyone — including police officers — has to travel more than an hour to Fresno. Last year, travel expenses cost the police department about $25,000. Even residents without business before the court bemoan its closure. As one mother reflected on the fact that her sons would not be able to observe court in action, she said “It's like they are missing out on an American experience because trial by jury, that's what we're all about.”

read more »

Lipscomb Offers Training in Advance of Pro Bono Clinic

Nashville’s Lipscomb University will hold a pro bono clinic training session for lawyers on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Institute for Civic Leadership's conference room on the third floor of the Ezell Center. Dinner will be provided. Palmer Williams from the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission will explain the clinic process and attendees will receive reference material to prepare for upcoming legal clinics. The first clinic will be held Aug. 22 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information and to RSVP contact Randy Spivey, academic director for the school’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society, at (615) 966-2503 or randy.spivey@lipscomb.edu.

read more »

Auto Race Benefits Pro Bono Work

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host "Solo in the Park" -- an auto competition and fundraiser -- on Aug. 17 and 18 at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville. Drivers will compete separately in a timed skill and handling competition. Registration is $35. Spectators are asked to make a $5 per family donation. Ride-alongs (helmets provided!) cost $10. Dave Yoder, executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, has issued a challenge to area attorneys: beat his time and he will make a $250 to LAET. In addition, LAET lawyer Terry Woods has agreed to match the contribution if he is beaten. Proceeds from the event benefit LAET and the Knoxville Family Justice Center, which provides services to domestic violence victims. Download a flyer about the event. For more information contact Yoder at (865) 251-4961.

read more »

Lewis to Receive ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis will receive a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon Aug. 12 in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon is being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. Representatives from the Tennessee legal community will be in attendance to celebrate Lewis' recognition.

read more »

TBJ: When She Lies About Paternity

What are the consequences of lying about who the father of a child is? Lacy A. Daniel explores intentional misrepresentation of paternity, in the August Tennessee Bar Journal, out today. It comes with a pretty sweet picture on the cover, too. (This baby, whose paternity is not in question, is the child of former TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Sarah Hayman.)

read more »

Deadline Extended for NLADA Nominations

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) has extended the nomination period for positions on its board of directors and civil and defender policy groups until Aug. 16. A description of positions that are open for nomination as well as criteria for each is available for download from the group's website. Nominations should be sent to Leadership Development Committee, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20036. NLADA is a national membership organization devoted to equal justice for all. It represents legal aid and public defender programs as well as individual advocates in public policy and legislative debates.

read more »

FBI Trafficking Sting Hits 11 in Tennessee

In 76 cities across the country, FBI agents arrested more than 150 people — including at least three in Memphis and eight in Chattanooga — who were involved in sex trafficking. The operation, conducted over the weekend, also freed more than 100 sexually exploited minors, officials said. In Memphis, three were arrested for forcing a 14-year-old girl into prostitution according to The Commercial Appeal. In Chattanooga, eight people were arrested on pimping charges while 11 women were arrested for prostitution, Knoxnews reports.

read more »

Legal Aid Honors Attorneys at Knoxville Pro Bono Night

Legal Aid of East Tennessee hosted its Knoxville Pro Bono Celebration Tuesday honoring local attorneys who have donated at least 25 hours of their time and legal services during the past year to aid those who otherwise could not afford an attorney. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of three annual Pro Bono Project Awards. Ryan Gardner was recognized as the Donald F. Paine Law Student Volunteer of the Year, Richard L. Duncan was given the Pro Bono Advocacy Award for his donation of almost 100 hours of service and Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers, LLP was named the Law Firm of the Year.

read more »

Study: Tenn. Attorneys Giving More Time to Help Others

Tennessee attorneys have nearly tripled the amount of time they give to pro bono work, the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission reports in a study released today. It found that 9,736 attorneys practicing in Tennessee provided 804, 9461 hours of pro bono in 2011, an average of nearly 83 hours per attorney and nearly triple the amount volunteered in 2009. “This is exactly what we had hoped to see,” Buck Lewis, chairman of the Access to Justice Commission, said. “The profession is stepping up and contributing more than ever before to assist those in need of legal services. It is extremely encouraging to see this level of participation.”

read more »

LAET Offers Free Legal Clinics for Elderly and Low Income Residents

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will offer two free legal clinics for elderly and low-income individuals on Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. and Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be held at Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City. Volunteer attorneys will assist individuals with preparing simple last wills and testaments, powers of attorney and living wills. For more information, contact LAET’s Johnson City office at (423) 928-8311 or (800) 821-1312.

read more »

Wyrick Among Speakers for Equal Justice University

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) has announced the keynote speakers for its 2013 Equal Justice University. They include Tennessee Supreme Court of Tennessee Chief Justice Gary Wade, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Tennessee House of Representatives Speaker Beth Harwell and TBA President Cindy Wyrick. The event, set for Oct. 9-11 in Nashville, is sponsored by TALS and the TBA. Learn more or register for the program on the TALS website.

read more »

AOC Seeks Compliance Auditor

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking a qualified person for the position of Supreme Court Rule 13 Compliance Auditor. A successful candidate must be able to interpret Supreme Court rules and orders and possess strong communication skills. Job duties include reviewing and auditing Indigent Defense Fund claims, identifying potential billing irregularities and resolving billing issues with attorneys, judges and other judicial personnel. The position is available immediately. Learn more on the AOC’s website.

read more »

Groups Host 5 Legal Clinics Aug. 24

Five free legal clinics are being planned in Nashville for Aug. 24 by The Legal Aid Society, Nashville Pro Bono Program, Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Napier-Looby Bar Association, Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence and James Flexer Law Firm. The clinics will provide free legal advice in any area of civil law. No pre-registration is required. Locations are: St. Luke's Community House, 5601 New York Ave.; Bethel AME Church, 1300 S. St.; Northwest YMCA, 3700 Ashland City Hwy.; East Park Community Center, 700 Woodland St.; and Legal Aid Society, 300 Deaderick St. Contact any of the sponsors for more information.

read more »

State Report: Trafficking Victims Need More Help

Tennessee ramped up criminal penalties for human traffickers this year, but rehabilitative services for survivors remain disjointed and reliable data remain elusive according to a new state study. The 97-page report, which has been in development for a year, found that communities do not have sufficient services, such as housing, relocation assistance, transportation and legal aid, to help trafficking victims. The report also calls for counseling victims within four hours of their discovery, relying on nonprofits to provide follow-up contact with survivors, creating a central data collection point for reporting trafficking incidents, creating four new staff positions in the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), and designating DHS and DCS as the point agencies for coordinating victim services. The Tennessean has more on the story.

read more »

Senate Committee OKs $430 Million for LSC

The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved $430 million for the Legal Services Corporation in fiscal year 2014. According to an LSC press release, this amount represents a $90 million increase over LSC’s current funding level, and is consistent with the White House budget request for 2014. "We want to thank Senators (Barbara) Mikulski and (Richard) Shelby for showing such strong leadership and support for LSC, and for recognizing the importance of federally funded civil legal aid,” LSC Board Chair John G. Levi said.

read more »

Memphis Homeless Clinic Moved to Sept. 19

The Project Homeless Connect legal clinic originally scheduled for August in Memphis has been moved to Sept. 19. The event, which brings together a variety of resources and services in one place for the day, will include a “street clinic” offered by the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office to help those with unpaid court costs and fines, and a civil legal clinic to help those with child support, collections and landlord/tenant issues. For more information or to volunteer contact the Memphis Bar Association at (901) 527-3575 or afritz@memphisbar.org.

read more »

Nominations Sought for 2013 Access to Justice Awards

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for two access to justice awards now through July 29. The first, the Riney Green Award, recognizes those who promote inter-program cooperation and statewide collaboration to strengthen access to justice in Tennessee. The second, the New Advocate of the Year, recognizes attorneys or paralegals who have been employed for less than five years and have a track record of affirmative, creative and effective advocacy on behalf of individual clients or the local community. Nominations for both awards should be submitted to TALS Executive Director Ann Pruitt via email to apruitt@tals.org. Award winners will be recognized at this fall’s Equal Justice University scheduled for Oct. 8-11 in Nashville.

read more »

NALS Silent Auction on Thursday

NALS Association of Legal Professionals, Nashville chapter, will be hosting its first annual After Hours Silent Auction Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz PC, located at 211 Commerce St. in Nashville The event will feature country music artist Stephanie Quayle, who performed at this year’s CMA Fest. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. Click here to RSVP.

read more »

Access to Justice Videos Now Include Closed Captioning

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice informational videos now include closed captioning to make legal guidance accessible to even more people, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. The videos review topics for the general public for civil cases in general sessions courts — where many civil legal matters take place — such as contract disputes, debt, landlord issues and civil suits under $25,000.

read more »

Pro Bono Hours Down Second Straight Year at Big Firms

Despite healthy increases in revenues and profits in 2012, The Am Law 200 posted drops in both total pro bono hours and average hours per lawyer for the second year in a row. There were, however, two hints of a nascent rebound. After dropping 10.6 percent in 2011, The Am Law 200's average percentage of lawyers performing at least 20 hours of pro bono work rose 0.4 percent in 2012, to 44 percent.

read more »

Free Legal Clinic Scheduled for Saturday

The monthly free legal clinic in Memphis will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library. This month’s clinic is sponsored by The Hardison Law Firm and Glassman Edwards Wade & Wyatt. Volunteer attorneys and support staff are needed to assist at the clinic. Learn more or volunteer on the Memphis Bar Association’s website.

read more »