News

Alternative Spring Break Volunteers Needed

This year’s Alternative Spring Break for law school students in Tennessee is shaping up to be the biggest yet with more than 75 students participating. In Memphis, lawyers are needed to supervise students March 11-13 as they prepare basic wills and advanced directives. Notaries also are needed. Morning and afternoon shifts are available. Contact Linda Warren Seely at Memphis Area Legal Services to volunteer.

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Legal Aid Society Adds Victims’ Advocate

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) has hired Barbara Gunn Lartey as its new victims’ advocate. Prior to joining LAS, Gunn Lartey worked as a bilingual legal advocate at the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. She also has been a women’s education coordinator and bilingual medical case manager at Nashville Cares, a disability claims examiner at Social Security Disability Services, and an international development volunteer with the Peace Corps in Equatorial Guinea. She earned her law degree from Temple University School of Law.

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Chattanooga Firm Becomes Pillar Law Firm

Clark & Washington in Chattanooga has become one of only two Pillar Law Firm partners with Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Following a model developed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission, Pillar Law Firms select a particular area of law on which to focus their pro bono efforts and then receive steady referrals from Legal Aid in that area. Clark & Washington is accepting bankruptcy cases in which the client has significant debt and is in danger of losing his or her home, driver’s license, or having his or her wages garnished. The Hamilton County Herald has the story.

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Domestic Violence Program Extended

The Legal Challenge, a program that encourages Nashville-area attorneys to become more involved in domestic violence prevention, has been extended through February by the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Supported by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, District Attorney Torry Johnson and YWCA leaders, the program aims to get attorneys who are not typically involved in domestic violence cases to learn more about the issue and volunteer to perform pro bono work for victims. The YWCA created a brief online course in domestic violence that attorneys can take prior to volunteering. Law firms with the most participation will be recognized by the YWCA in April. The Tennessean has the story.

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MALS Hires New Donor Relations Officer

Memphis Area Legal Services has hired Memphis native Elizabeth Roane as chief donor relations officer to oversee marketing and community development. Roane has broad experience in marketing, development and account management, having served with national and international companies in Memphis and in the northeast. She previously was national marketing manager for a ServiceMaster company and director of marketing and program development for the City of Memphis’s Second Chance program. Roane graduated from Sweet Briar College. She also has studied marketing management at New York University and French at the Institute de Français in VilleFranch. She can be reached at eroane@malsi.org or (901) 523-8822.

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LSC Gets Funding Increase, New Pro Bono Program

The $1.1 trillion dollar federal spending bill recently signed into law increases funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) by $25 million in fiscal year 2014 -- a seven percent increase from last year and the first increase in four years. The final bill also includes $2.5 million for a new Pro Bono Innovation Fund, which will support new and innovative pro bono projects across the country. The final spending bill provides $365 million for the agency. Of that, $335 million is for basic field grants, a six percent increase from last year. Learn more on the LSC website.

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Law Schools Team up for 3 Immigration Clinics

The Immigration Clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law will host three immigration clinics in the eastern part of the state beginning tomorrow. The events will be held in conjunction with Centro Hispano. Dates are Jan. 25 at Centro Hispano in Knoxville from 9 a.m. to noon; Feb. 22 in Lonsdale; and March 15 in Morristown. For more information or to to get involved, contact Tennessee professor Karla McKanders, (865) 974-5710.

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Legal Aid Names 2014 Community Fundraising Chairs

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) has announced that Linda and Art Rebrovick will serve as the 2014 community co-chairs of its annual Campaign for Equal Justice fundraising initiative. The community chairs focus on non-legal donors in Davidson and Williamson counties. Linda is CEO of Consensus Point and co-founder of Evolve Women. She serves on a variety of corporate and nonprofit boards. Art is president and CEO of Compass Executives and lead director of the Bank of Nashville. He is a board member and past president of the Turnaround Management Association and a member of Legal Aid’s Community Advisory Council. Read more in a release from LAS.

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Access to Justice Project Wins Frist Grant

Legal Needs Study to Help Identify Gaps in Service

The Frist Foundation has approved a grant requested by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission to support a comprehensive, statewide study of the legal needs of low-income and homeless Tennesseans.

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Leadership Conference Features Education, Honors

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session. The group then headed to the War Memorial Auditorium for the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon,  where Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan spoke to the nearly 200 people gathered (see video of the luncheon here). "I believed I could made a difference," she said about why she has run for public office seven times. "The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask 'If I don't do it, who will?' That's why I do what I do." Also at the lunch, the TBA Public Service Awards were presented. Those honored were Chattanooga lawyer Charles "Buz" Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies.

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Lawyers' Good Works Recognized at Public Service Luncheon

Tennessee lawyers from across the state were honored for their good works Saturday (Jan. 18) at the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon in Nashville (see video here). Close to 200 filled the War Memorial Auditorium to hear from the honorees and Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan.

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Legal Aid Receives Grant for Medical Legal Partnership

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has received a $55,000 grant from Baptist Healing Trust to support its Middle Tennessee Medical Legal Partnership. The partnership -- a joint effort between Legal Aid and Vanderbilt University -- integrates legal advocacy into the health care system at two Nashville clinics. The funds, according to Gary Housepian, executive director of the Legal Aid Society, will allow the agency to continue providing free, direct legal services to low-income patients and their families receiving treatment at the United Neighborhood Health Services clinic and the Shade Tree Clinic. Funds also will be used to train health care professionals on how to recognize a patient’s need for legal assistance as it relates to their illness.

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Volunteers Needed for Juvenile Court Clinic

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) is organizing and staffing a pro bono legal advice clinic at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court on the second Thursday of each month. The next event will be Feb. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. The clinic focuses on helping families with child support issues and other matters that come before the Juvenile Court. The agency is seeking three to five lawyers to volunteer at the clinic. For those who do not have a background in juvenile law, the court has offered to hold training sessions. Email LAET to learn more or to help out.

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Registration Opens Jan. 7 for People’s Law School

Offered January through April in partnership with the Nashville Community Education Commission, the People’s Law School is a free program taught by Legal Aid Society attorneys and volunteer attorneys. It provides an overview of common civil legal issues at weekly, one-hour classes. The sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursdays at Wright Middle School, 180 McCall St. and at Cohn Learning Center, 4805 Park Ave. beginning Jan. 23. To register, call the Nashville Community Education Commission at (615) 298-8085 or visit the commission's website.

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LAET Seeks CFO Applicants

Legal Aid of East Tennessee is hiring an experienced Chief Financial Officer to be based in its Knoxville office. Interested candidates may submit a letter of interest and resume to Executive Director David R. Yoder or call (865) 637-0484 for more information. Download a job description.

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Probation Fees Used to Help Local Community

It is the season for giving, and on Friday, three Washington County judges were handing out money. WCYB News reports that Sessions Court Judges James Nidiffer, Robert Lincoln and Robert Arnold gave out more than $11,000 in grants to four area non-profits. The money comes from the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, which handles probation cases in Washington County. Director of Corrections Kristina Peters says the program gives back to other non-profits through the probation fees that are collected. This year’s recipients of the funding were CASA of Northeast Tennessee, Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee, the Alzheimer's Association and the Dawn of Hope Foundation.

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MALS Elects Board Officers

The board of directors of Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) elected new officers last week. Each will serve a one-year term. They are: President Jonathan Hancock with Baker Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz; Vice President Mary Wolff with Wolff Ardis; Treasurer Clayton Purdom with Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston; and Secretary Rose Benson with Porter-Leath.

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Foundation Awards $548K Through IOLTA Grants

The Tennessee Bar Foundation has awarded $548,030 to 25 organizations across the state as part of its 2014 Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) grants. Gifts range in size from $3,000 for Catholic Charities’ Immigrant Services to $122,153 for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. Legal aid agencies in Jackson, Knoxville and Memphis also received funding. Download the full list at the link above.

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Ashworth to Join Access to Justice Commission

Former TBA President Gail Ashworth has been appointed by the Supreme Court to serve the remainder of Bill Young’s term on the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission. Ashworth will be eligible for reappointment in April 2014.

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Chattanooga Grand Jury Recommends Mental Health Court

The Hamilton County Grand Jury wrapped up two months of work with a recommendation that the government set up a mental health court to reduce recidivism, reduce the length of incarceration for participants and improve mental health outcomes. "It is difficult to provide humane and just treatment to persons with mental health issues in our jails and prisons," the jurors reported. “We believe that combining judicial supervision with community mental health treatment would in turn curtail criminal activity while improving the participants' quality of life." Chattanoogan.com has the full report.

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Legal Aid Clinic Helps Parents at Juvenile Court

Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Hamilton County Juvenile Court and the Court Clerk’s Office held the first free legal advice clinic aimed at child support problems in Hamilton County Juvenile Court. Five lawyers, some volunteers and others with Legal Aid, sat with non-custodial parents and reviewed forms and fielded questions. LAET attorney Charlie McDaniel, who led the event, said if there’s demand the group will hold the clinic monthly. For information on the next Legal Aid clinic at Hamilton County Juvenile Court, contact Legal Aid of East Tennessee at (423) 756-4013. The Chattanooga Times Free has more. 

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Nashville PD: One More Capital Case is Too Much

As Tennessee pushes to carry out more executions, Nashville’s public defenders say they can’t take on any more capital punishment cases, and that includes the case of Lorenzo Jenkins who is accused of murdering three people in October, The Tennessean reports. Assistant Public Defender Mike Engle told Criminal Court Judge Randall Wyatt Jr. on Monday that the state should hire Jenkins a private attorney. Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman, who is prosecuting the case, disagreed. He said the public defender’s office should reassign cases to free up one of five attorneys qualified to handle death penalty cases. Besides, he said, he’s handling three cases. But Nashville’s elected public defender Dawn Deaner said it is unfair to compare the workload of her office with that of local prosecutors who have police officers, detectives, forensic experts and witnesses at their disposal.

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Free Legal Aid Clinic Set for Franklin

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands is hosting a free legal clinic tomorrow at the Williamson County Public Library from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with no appointment necessary. Visit HobNob Franklin for more information.

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LAET Holiday Open House Nov. 29

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a holiday Open House Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at 502 South Gay St., Suite 404 in downtown Knoxville. Local lawyers are invited to enjoy the Krutch Park tree lighting at 6 p.m. and then stop by Legal Aid’s office to warm up and enjoy holiday goodies. Admission is free with a business card. Families are welcome! Visit www.laet.org for more information.

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LAET, TBA Conclude Civil Right to Counsel Series

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Tennessee Bar Association have concluded a multi-city panel discussion series on the issue of Civil Right to Counsel. This year is  the 50th anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright, which established the right to counsel in criminal cases. A great deal of discussion has been going on nationally about the lack of a right to counsel in critical civil cases where the risk of harm is greater than that in many criminal cases, including domestic violence, custody and foreclosure. Each of the sessions began with videos featuring Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick. The Knoxville event on Nov. 15 was held at Lincoln Memorial University's Duncan School of Law. The second was Nov. 18 at Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City and the third presentation was today on the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus. Read more from LAET or see photos from the events.

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