News

Legal Aid Awarded Serving Seniors Grant

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) was one of 121 state nonprofits and government organizations to receive a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee as a part of the Serving Tennessee’s Seniors program. Funding for the $25,000 grant to LAET was provided by the Chancery Court and administered by the Community Foundation through the settlement of a lawsuit against SeniorTrust and ElderTrust. The program is available to seniors in the following counties: Carter, Cocke, Grainger, Green, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington.
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TACIR Approves Report on Study of Court Fees

The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations submitted its report on court fees in the state, concluding that costs in both civil and criminal cases “accumulate and can become overwhelming, preventing people from filing civil cases or creating large amounts of debt in both civil and criminal cases.” The report reviewed existing research and suggested additional data that could be gathered and reported to help address concerns and better inform recommendations. 
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Legal Aid to Host Free Valentine’s Day Clinic

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host a free legal clinic on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Family Justice Center in Chattanooga. The clinic will specialize in offering advice on family law and domestic violence issues, but individuals with any non-criminal issue are invited to attend. For more information or to volunteer, please contact LAET’s Chattanooga office at (423) 402-4758.
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Wildfire Claims Approach $1 Billion

Insurance claims resulting from the Sevier County wildfires have risen more than $100 million from previously reported figures, and now total nearly $1 billion, Knoxnews reports. The most recent report from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance shows total claims from residential and commercial property at upwards of $943 million, nearly double the losses initially estimated by Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters in December. Tennessee attorneys can still volunteer to help with relief effort by signing up via the TBA website.
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Tennessee Justice Center Celebrates 21 Years with Open House

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) will celebrate 21 years of legal service as well as a new office space next month, and attorneys are invited to attend and join the festivities. TJC will host an Open House and Happy Hour on Feb. 13, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the new office, located at 211 7th Ave. N., Suite 100, in downtown Nashville. RSVP to dwhaley@tnjustice.org.
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Legal Aid Society Celebrates Leadership Cabinet

The Legal Aid Society (LAS) celebrated this year’s Leadership Cabinet at a Tuesday breakfast. The Cabinet is composed of 43 firms that contributed $400 per attorney towards the 2017 Campaign for Equal Justice. The campaign has raised $460,501 towards its $826,000 goal, with its official kick-off still almost six weeks away. Firms throughout LAS’s 48-county service area that wish to join the Leadership Cabinet should contact director of development Cindy Durham.
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40th Annual Equal Justice University Planned for Late Summer

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) will host its annual Equal Justice University on Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. TALS is currently requesting that former attendees of the conference share their photos from previous years, in honor of the conference’s 40th anniversary. If you have questions or would like to submit a photo, please contact Samantha Sanchez.
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Inmates Graduate Higher Ed Program

Eighteen Tennessee inmates graduated on Thursday from a program run by Tennessee High Education Initiative, a nonprofit that works with the Tennessee Department of Corrections to bring higher education to prisoners. The Jackson Sun reports the graduates completed their 41-Hour General Education certificates, which denotes the completion of the core requirements of an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in Tennessee. The program currently includes 115 men at two prisons, Turney Center Industrial Complex and Northwest Correctional Complex, and boasts more than 300 graduates. 
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Free Legal Clinic in Gatlinburg Monday for Fire Victims

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Sevier County Bar Association will offer a free legal advice clinic on Monday for those impacted by the wildfires. The clinic will be held at the Courtyard Gatlinburg, 315 Historic Nature Trail, from 1 to 5 p.m. To volunteer or for more information, contact LAET’s Knoxville office at (865) 637-0484.
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ABA Center for Innovation Accepting Fellowship Applications

The American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation is accepting applications for a full-time fellowship in Chicago, which focuses on developing and launching “new projects to address critical needs in the legal sector." The program aims to attract those interested in technology and access to justice. Recent law school graduates (within five years) can apply for a NextGen Fellowship, and all attorneys are invited to apply for an Innovation Fellowship. Applications are due Jan. 31.
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Video Now Available from Public Service Awards Luncheon

The TBA recognized its Public Service Award honorees Saturday during a luncheon at its 2017 Leadership Conference. Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year winner Susan Gruber, Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year winner Richard Taylor and Law Student Volunteer of the Year winner Kirsten Jacobson were recognized for their public service contributions and achievements. TBA President Jason Long emceed the event, which also featured a keynote address from former Nashville Mayor and Public Defender Karl Dean. Watch the program now.

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Federal Funding Approved for Wildfire Legal Hotline

A toll-free legal assistance hotline, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is now available for those in Sevier County who need wildfire-related legal assistance but are unable to afford an attorney. The toll-free line is "piggy backing" on TALS’ existing legal help line 1-844-HELP4TN (1-844-435-7486). Callers may leave a message between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST and receive a return call from a volunteer attorney. A press release from the TBA and a number of legal partners highlights the type of assistance available, as well as limitations on assistance; details for an upcoming legal clinic on Jan. 23; and instructions for registering with FEMA and applying for federal and state disaster aid.

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January TBJ Focuses on Access to Justice

There are pro bono opportunities that fall within many practice areas, including specialties not typically associated with volunteer legal service. The January Tennessee Bar Journal looks at the varied areas of law in which attorneys can perform pro bono. This story leads off the issue, which includes an update from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s ATJ Commission, features on this year’s Public Service Award honorees, and a look back more than 800 years when Henry II crafted a novel judicial system. In addition, TBA President Jason Long thanks the many volunteers who continue to help with the aftermath of the wildfires in East Tennessee – another example of attorneys giving their time to help others.

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Veterans Legal Clinic Set for Jan. 11

Volunteers are needed for a Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic scheduled for Jan. 11 from noon to 2 p.m. in Knoxville. The clinic is one of several planned by a group of legal organizations in the city, including the Knoxville Bar Association, the Knoxville Barristers, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Knox County Public Defender’s Office, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the local Veterans’ Affairs office. It will take place at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, 1101 Liberty St.

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Memphis Expungement Clinic Serves 300+

The Memphis Bar Association (MBA), in partnership with the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission’s Faith & Justice Alliance, served more than 300 individuals at its inaugural expungement clinic and resource fair Dec. 10. The legal community also responded in force with nearly 50 attorneys, paralegals and law students donating their time. More than 900 people had registered for the event, so the MBA is working to follow up with those who were not served on-site. See photos from the day from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

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3rd Legal Clinic Planned for Wildfire Survivors

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will hold a third free legal advice clinic for wildfire survivors on Jan. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Courtyard Gatlinburg, 315 Historic Nature Trail. Those impacted by area fires are eligible to receive legal advice on issues such as housing, employment, debt and insurance. No appointment is necessary and walk-ins are welcome. Attorney volunteers are needed. For more information, contact LAET’s Knoxville Pro Bono Director Kathryn Ellis, 865-637-0484. Learn more about all efforts to serve wildfire survivors. LAET also reports there is a critical need to provide meals for community volunteers. Visit mealtrain.com to sign up to deliver meals or visit www.volunteeretn.org to donate financially.

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Lawyers Listed Among 'Women of Influence'

The Nashville Business Journal announced its 2017 Women of Influence honorees today. Among the 32 women are four attorneys: Julie Boswell, Baker Donelson; Angela Humphreys, Bass, Berry & Sims; Ann Jarvis Pruitt, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services; and Jen Robinson, Littler Mendelson. All honorees will be recognized at an awards lunch on Feb. 8.

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‘TBA Mashup’ Coming in 2017

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program. During the day, you'll be able to learn about the current state of health insurance for small firms, how to get involved in pro bono activities, how to use the Fastcase TopForm bankruptcy filing software and more. At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need.

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Court Amends Pro Se Divorce Forms

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order revising pro se forms to be used in uncontested divorce cases with minor children. The court reports that its Access to Justice Commission requested the change to make it clear that spouses with orders of protection may use the forms. The documents released today replace the forms published by the court in October. The forms can be used beginning Jan. 1.

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Attorneys to be Honored with Girls Inc. Awards

A pair of Chattanooga attorneys are among nine women to be honored at the Girls Inc. 13th annual awards luncheon set for April 19, the Hamilton County Herald reports. Paige Evatt, pro bono director and staff attorney at Legal Aid of East Tennessee, and Nicole Osborne, government affairs counsel at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, will receive the group’s UnBought & UnBossed Award, which honors women who make an impact on the lives of girls and other women.

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Shelby County Launches New Prosecution Program

The Shelby County District Attorney announced a new community protection plan yesterday, News 5 reports. Under the plan, all cases from a designated area will be handled by the same prosecutor and judge in an attempt to build relationships between the courts and the community and expedite the consideration of cases. A pilot of the Community Prosecution Program will begin Jan. 3 at the Old Allen precinct in Frayser.

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ABA Files Suit Over Loan Forgiveness Program

The American Bar Association (ABA) filed a lawsuit Tuesday to force the U.S. Department of Education to honor loan forgiveness commitments it made under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The suit was brought on behalf of four plaintiffs who were retroactively denied eligibility for the benefit after being told their jobs qualified or taking positions "pre-approved" by the department. The program, which began in 2007, provides incentives for choosing a public service career by forgiving student loan debt for those who make payments for 10 years while working in public service jobs. The ABA reports that it filed the suit after several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the situation.

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Apply for Nashville Bar Foundation Grant by Jan. 15

The Nashville Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Nashville Bar Association, is accepting grant applications through Jan. 15 from non-profit organizations that support law-related educational or charitable programs. Access application guidelines and the request form.

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Court Honors Memphis Attorneys for Pro Bono Service

The Tennessee Supreme Court honored more than 100 Memphis attorneys last week during the Memphis Bar Association’s annual meeting. Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins was at the meeting to deliver remarks and thank attendees for their pro bono legal service. Justice Holly Kirby also was on hand to announce the names of those being honored. The event was part of the court’s extensive pro bono recognition program, which honors lawyers who provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service during the year.

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Art Exhibit to Benefit Immigrant Legal Services

The #HereToStay: Art of Resilience art show and fundraiser will take place Jan. 13-27 at L. Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin Ave., Suite 104 in Memphis. The show kicks off with a reception on Jan. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are available online or at the door the night of the event. According to organizers, the event will feature works by local artists that express their support for the immigrant community. A percentage of all proceeds from artwork sold will be used to support a pro bono coordinator who will recruit and manage volunteer lawyers working for the Community Legal Center’s Immigrant Justice Program, Mid-South Immigration Advocates and the Derechos Immigration Program sponsored by Latino Memphis. For more information contact Jerri Green with the Community Legal Center at 901-543-3395.

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