News

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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New Guide Clarifies Legal Info v. Legal Advice

Need help determining when you are giving legal advice and when it's just legal information? The Tennessee Access to Justice Commission has developed guidelines to help. Originally intended to provide assistance to court staff and attorneys assisting in self-help centers, the guidelines grew to become something that anyone assisting self represented litigants could use. The Tennessee Supreme Court has now endorsed this policy, which the commission's Self-Represented Litigants Advisory Committee developed. Learn more at the court's access to justice website, www. justiceforalltn.com.

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2013 Equal Justice University Set for October

Registration for the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ 2013 Equal Justice University is now open. The conference, scheduled for Oct. 8-11, is the annual gathering of lawyers, advocates, social workers and pro bono attorneys involved in providing civil legal assistance in Tennessee. EJU, which is cosponsored by the TBA, offers a unique opportunity to earn up to 15 hours of CLE credit and network with colleagues from across the state. See a tentative schedule and learn more about the event or register now. The first 30 registrants will receive a free 30-minute massage during the conference!

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Volunteers Needed for Memphis Homeless Clinic

Volunteer lawyers are needed to help with two initiatives at the next Project Homeless Connect in Memphis. 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. The event takes place Aug. 22 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. For more information or to volunteer contact the Memphis Bar Association at (901) 527-3575 or afritz@memphisbar.org.

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Washington County Pro Bono Praised by National Group

Pro bono and access to justice initiatives sponsored by lawyers in Washington County recently were featured in an article by the national group Trial Lawyers Care. The county’s Saturday Clinic, General Sessions Court project and Pro Se Domestic Project were praised for their unique approach to meeting real needs and for their ongoing impact. The group called the projects a “model” for other communities and highlighted the work of three area lawyers – Tony Seaton, Matt Bolton and McKenna Cox – who were instrumental in launching the programs. Read more on the group’s website.

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New Veterans Legal Corps Sends Lawyers, Students to Legal Aid

Low-income and homeless veterans will be getting legal help from a new program that deploys lawyers and law students to legal aid groups and courts across the country. Equal Justice Works recently announced the new Veterans Legal Corps, which is funded with money from AmeriCorps. The three-year program will dispatch 36 lawyers and 200 law students to groups across the country. The lawyers and law students will help veterans with disability benefits, barriers to housing and employment, debt and family law problems. The first class of Veterans Legal Corps members will begin work in September and will serve for two years. The ABA Journal has the story.

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5th Annual Seniors Clinic on Tap Tomorrow in Memphis

Memphis Area Legal Services, AutoZone and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC will hold the fifth annual pro bono legal clinic for Memphis-area seniors tomorrow from 10 a.m. to noon at Orange Mound Senior Center, 2590 Park Ave. The free clinic offers seniors legal advice and helps in the preparation of wills, advanced care plans and more. Contact Linda Warren Seely at (901) 523-8822 for more information.

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LAET Honors Pro Bono Stars at Event

Legal Aid of East Tennessee tonight is honoring attorneys and firms who donated their time serving pro bono clients over the past year. U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann will be receiving the Chief Justice William M. Barker Equal Access to Justice Award for his lifelong commitment to access to justice. Also being honored is Chattanooga attorney Max Bahner of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel P.C., who is receiving the Bruce C. Bailey Volunteer Lawyer of the Year Award for his work on two challenging, litigation-heavy and compelling cases. A third award will be presented to Miller & Martin PLLC, which is being named the Pro Bono Firm of the Year for its strong support for Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

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TJC Celebrates Supporting Law Firms, Mother of the Year

The Tennessee Justice Center honored clients and recognized the support of the private bar during a recent reception in Nashville. More than 150 lawyers, judges, clients and others heard the moving story of Jessica Hacker, a TJC client and Mother of the Year who grew up in foster care and has chosen to adopt children out of foster care in hopes that they might have a better childhood than her own. TJC also recognized the 15 firms who have participated in the organization’s Raising the Bar Campaign: Bass Berry & Sims; Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; Waller; Bone McAllester Norton; Burr & Forman; Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella; Frost Brown Todd; H3GM; Law Offices of John Day; Lewis King Krieg & Waldrop; Norris & Norris; Ogle Gass & Richardson; Sherrard & Roe; Stites & Harbison; and Wyatt Tarrant & Combs.

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LAET Races for a Cause

Sports car enthusiasts from across the region gathered Sunday for “SOLO TIME AT BRISTOL,” an event put on by East Tennessee Region Sports Car Club of America to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities and Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET). “We are extremely grateful to Bristol Motor Speedway for hosting this event each year,” said David R. Yoder, LAET executive director. “Not only do they allow the Club to race at this unique venue, but all proceeds of the day benefit two great charities. And we couldn’t hold this event without the support of our sponsors: Pilot Flying J, WBIR-TV, and WIVK-FM.”

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Faith-Based Initiative Offers Legal Aid Services

A Tennessee faith-based initiative is now providing attorneys at no cost to needy members of houses of worship, an unusual approach compared to most legal aid programs across the country. "People show up every day at churches and synagogues and mosques, and they may not ask for legal help," Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark said about the program. "They may need food assistance. But often there is an underlying legal problem." Clark, who helped the faith-based initiative get off the ground, told the Nashville City Paper that, "We realized we can help more people by going to where they are already going for help."

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Chattanooga Lawyer McDowell Takes Office as YLD President

Chattanooga lawyer David McDowell took office as president of the TBA’s Young Lawyers Division during last week's convention and announced a new pro bono public service project to educate librarians across the state about OnlineTNJustice and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Service’s new legal information website LIFT. The goal of the project is to empower librarians with the knowledge they need to help local residents seeking legal assistance. Also taking office at the division’s annual meeting were President-Elect Stacie Winkler of Memphis, Vice President Rachel Moses of Cookeville, Secretary Troy Weston of Knoxville and Treasurer Steven King of Memphis. McDowell succeeds David Veile of Franklin.

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TJC Welcomes New Executive Director

The Tennessee Justice Center has announced that managing attorney Michele Johnson will succeed Gordon Bonnyman as executive director at the end of 2013. Bonnyman and Johnson co-founded the organization 17 years ago to advocate for Tennessee’s vulnerable populations, particularly those struggling to find access to healthcare. “I am excited that Michele will assume full leadership of the organization that she has already helped make an effective voice for Tennesseans in need,” said Bonnyman, who will continue to serve clients as a TJC staff attorney. The TJC will host a reception Friday at Waller Law at 5 p.m. to welcome Johnson, and to celebrate the courage of TJC’s clients and generosity of law firms throughout Tennessee.

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AOC Seeks Proposals for Analyzing Indigent Claims Payment System

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking proposals from firms to analyze the indigent claims payment process and make recommendations that may lead to re-engineering the system. Proposals also should include the development and validation of requirements of any revised payment system.

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Free Legal Clinics Held in Murfreesboro

The Rutherford/Cannon County Bar Association hosts a free legal clinic at Greenhouse Ministries in Murfreesboro every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The clinic is open to the public. The Legal Aid Society, in partnership with Higher Ground Worship Center, also offers clinics on every third Saturday of the month (excluding July and December). For more information about these clinics, contact Andrae Crismon at (615) 890-0905 acrismon@las.org.

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Free Legal Clinic in Memphis June 8

A free legal clinic will be held June 8 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., in Memphis. This month’s clinic is sponsored by the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association and is open to all members of the public in need of legal advice. Initiated in October 2007, the Saturday Legal Clinic is sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Area Legal Services and is a project of the Access to Justice Committee, a collaborative effort of local bar associations and non-profit organizations to provide legal services to those in need. Volunteer attorneys provide free legal assistance to those in need on a first come, first served basis. For more information about the clinic or to volunteer, click here.

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Federal Public Defenders Facing More Furlough Days

The Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference announced in mid-April that federal defenders wouldn’t face more than 15 furlough days under mandatory budget cuts. Now, less than one month later, public defenders have been notified that the maximum furlough time has increased to 20 days. According to a May 10 memorandum sent by Chief Judge William Traxler Jr., chairman of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the committee reconsidered its April decision after getting new information on how defender offices were coping with the cuts, also known as sequestration. The Blog of the Legal Times has the story. 

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UT Law Students Spend Summer Helping Others

Five University of Tennessee College of Law students will spend their summer interning as law clerks at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. They will hone their legal skills while serving people who, without LAET, could not afford legal assistance. Student law clerks will work under the supervision of Legal Aid staff, and also provide support for volunteer attorneys participating in LAET’s Pro Bono Project. The internship is part of a long-running partnership between Legal Aid and the UT College of Law. Download the press release. 

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Justice Clark Praises Legal Aid

Justice Cornelia Clark addressed the Legal Aid Society staff at their bi-annual meeting last Thursday, calling the employees the “unsung and ‘unplayed’ heroes of the ongoing efforts to improve access to justice in Tennessee.” She compared the employees to members of a marching band, the real virtuosos, saying "whatever part in the band you play - answering phones, filing papers, preparing legal documents, etc. - your work keeps the music playing: your work matters." The Administrative Office of the Courts has the story.

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LSC Seeks Comments on Private Attorney Regulations

The Legal Services Corporation is seeking comments on whether it should revise its regulations covering private attorney involvement in legal services. Current rules require LSC grantees to expend an amount equivalent to 12.5 percent of their grant to encourage the involvement of private attorneys in the delivery of legal assistance. Some have suggested that this requirement poses a number of challenges to grantees as they seek to expand pro bono resources and assistance. The agency is accepting written comments from those interested in contributing to the discussion. Comments should be submitted by Oct. 17.

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