Law Students Gather for Pro Bono Summit

Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit

Representatives from law schools and legal aid gather at the fourth Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit. Pictured (from left): Brad Morgan (UT College of Law), Andrew McRee (Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law), Dave Yoder (Legal Aid of East Tennessee), John Lewis and Dean William Koch (Nashville School of Law), Jeffrey Usman (Belmont University College of Law) and Spring Miller (Vanderbilt Law School). 

Representatives from all six Tennessee law schools gathered in Nashville over the weekend with leaders from the access to justice community for the fourth Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit, hosted by Nashville School of Law and sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. About 30 people took part in the program, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee and Nashville School of Law Dean (and former Supreme Court Justice) William Koch, as well as representatives from legal aid organizations. Dave Yoder, Executive Director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Samantha Sanchez from Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Liz Logsdon from Disability Rights Tennessee all presented about the work of their organizations and opportunities for involvement from law students and recent graduates.

The conference included remarks from Chief Justice Lee, Dean Koch and Nashville School of Law faculty and TBA ATJ Committee Member John Lewis. Participants engaged in conversations about the need, opportunity, challenges and possibilities surrounding pro bono and public interest work and related access to justice issues. The two day summit included active discussions led by ATJ Committee members Brad Morgan (UT College of Law), Jeffrey Usman (Belmont University College of Law), Andrew McRee (Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law), Spring Miller (Vanderbilt Law School) and law student representatives from each of the schools.

For more information on this or other related TBA Access to Justice programs, please contact Liz Todaro, TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Liz Todaro.  

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Law Schools Criticized for Living Off Student Loans

The New York Times writes on what it calls the law school “death spiral” – a consequence of increased free federal loans and lowered admission standards to maintain enrollment in a stalled legal job market. “The government must require accountability from law schools that live off student loans,” the editorial board writes. “Even as law schools are churning out unqualified graduates stuck under hopeless mountains of debt, millions of poor and lower-income Americans remain desperate for quality legal representation."

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Legal Clinic Planned for Tomorrow in Memphis

Memphis Area Legal Services will continue its ongoing Thursday Afternoon Clinic tomorrow in Memphis during Celebrate Pro Bono Month. The legal clinic is held in room 140 of the D’Army Bailey Civil Courthouse from 1:30 – 4 p.m. For more information, contact Cindy Ettingoff.

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State Officials Support 'Celebrate Pro Bono Month'

State officials are encouraging Tennesseans to learn more about their legal options this month, NewsChannel 9 reports. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance's Division of Consumer Affairs reminds everyone that National Celebrate Pro Bono Week is being observed Oct. 25-31 across the nation. The department says that the week is a good time for people to "educate themselves when it comes to their legal options, which could be a title search, estate planning or a legal defense." In Tennessee more than 50 events are happening across the state during October. Now in its seventh year, the Tennessee initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. Learn more about the 2015 Celebrate Pro Bono Initiative.

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Bradley Arant is a Top Charitable Giver

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was recently recognized by Law360 as one of the nation’s 10 most charitable law firms, making donations of more than $1.15 million in 2014. According to a Law360 survey, these firms gave back to their communities "by funneling millions of dollars into worthy organizations and programs to fund legal aid efforts, education programs and services for the disadvantaged." See the list and learn more.

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Stevenson to Speak at Knox County PD Event

The Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office, in celebration of its 25th Anniversary and in partnership with East Tennessee Foundation, is hosting an evening with New York Times best-selling author Bryan Stevenson. The Nov. 9 event will be at the Crowne Plaza Knoxville. Stevenson wrote the book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, about his work with the Equal Justice Initiative.

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TJC to Celebrate 20 Years at Event Honoring Founders

The Tennessee Justice Center is hosting a hosting a celebration to mark its 20 years of service. The event will be Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville. Founders of the organization being honored include: Margaret Behm, Mike Cody, Harlan Dodson, Harris Gilbert, Riney Green, David Herbert, Lowry Kline, Howard Vogel and Ashley Wiltshire.

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LAET to Host Clinic in Maryville

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will hold a clinic on Oct. 31 in Maryville from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. at the Blount County Library, 508 North Cusick St. The clinic is open to the public and no appointments are necessary. For more information or to volunteer, contact Terry Woods. See the full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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Ohio, Arkansas Halt Executions; Scalia Predicts Death of Death Penalty

Ohio and Arkansas have become the latest in a string of states putting the death penalty on hold because of issues with the drugs needed to carry out the lethal injections. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has delayed executions until at least 2017, while prison officials try to secure supplies of lethal injection drugs, The Johnson City Press reports. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a lower-court judge overstepped his jurisdiction by halting the executions of eight death row inmates, but the high court immediately granted its own stay to give the inmates time to challenge a new state law that bars Arkansas from disclosing its execution-drug supplier, according to an Associated Press report. Meanwhile, in an address at the University of Minnesota Law School, Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday it "wouldn't surprise" him to see the U.S. Supreme Court invalidate the death penalty after moving in recent years to restrict its application.

read more » Hits 10,000 Questions, a website that allows low-income Tennesseans to seek free help with their civil legal problems, is celebrating 10,000 questions posted to the website and the more than 475 Tennessee volunteer lawyers registered to answer those questions. The innovative service, a joint project of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association, is designed to make it easier for people in need to access legal help. It also provides lawyers a flexible option for doing pro bono work anywhere there is internet service. Based on the success of, the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono and Public Service Committee recently voted to establish a national online legal advice platform using the Tennessee model.

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Pro Bono Work to be Honored at Memphis Reception

Celebrate the pro bono accomplishments of Memphis attorneys and law firms at a Pro Bono Reception Oct. 29 at Martin Tate Morrow & Marston. Special honorees are the law firms, governmental agencies and corporate legal departments who have sponsored the Saturday Legal Clinics. The event is sponsored by BankTennessee and The Marston Group. The law firm is located on the 10th floor of International Place, Tower II.  For more information, contact Cindy Ettingoff at Memphis Area Legal Services.

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Attorney of the Day Clinic Set for Memphis

Celebrate Pro Bono Month events continue with Memphis Area Legal Services’ (MALS) Attorney of the Day advice and counsel clinic set for Thursday afternoon. Co-sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee, the weekly clinic runs from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the D’Army Bailey Civil Courthouse, 140 Adams Ave. For more information or to volunteer, contact Cindy Ettingoff or visit the MALS website.

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Law Schools Host 4 Upcoming Pro Bono Events

Tennessee law schools are showing their support for Celebrate Pro Bono Month with a number of events planned over the next week. Three schools are holding virtual clinics using OnlineTNJustice (OTJ), a web-based resource for individuals seeking legal help. The Nashville School of Law goes first with a clinic this Wednesday. The University of Memphis School of Law follows with an event next Monday. Vanderbilt Law School will host the clinic next Tuesday. To volunteer, attorneys must register with OTJ and be licensed in Tennessee. At the end of the month, a two-day law student pro bono summit will take place at the Nashville School of Law. Sponsored by the TBA Access to Justice Committee, the Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission and law schools across the state, the Pro Bono & Public Interest Law School Summit will give law students an opportunity to gather with pro bono leaders to hear about recent developments in access to justice efforts. Get details on these and other events.

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2 Legal Aid Clinics Set for Oct. 27

Legal aid groups will hold two clinics on Oct. 27. The first, sponsored by Legal Aid of East Tennessee, will take place in Jonesborough from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Jonesborough Senior Center. The focus will be on estate planning. Contact Christy Harris for more information. The second is a general legal advice clinic in Jackson. That event will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Regional Inter-Faith Association. Contact Kathryn Tucker for details. See the full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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Save the Date for 2016 EJU Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) announced today that it will hold its 2016 Equal Justice University (EJU) Conference at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro on Aug. 31 – Sept. 2. Learn more about the annual conference.

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Nashville Legal Clinic Set for Next Saturday

Celebrate Pro Bono Month events continue next week with a general legal advice clinic set for Saturday, Oct. 24, in Nashville. The clinic, sponsored by the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands, will begin at 9 a.m. at the group’s downtown Nashville office. No appointments are needed. To volunteer, contact Lucinda Smith. See the full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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Events Set for Next Week Include 2 Legal Clinics

Events planned across the state for next week include two legal clinics. In Nashville, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands partners with Nashville Bar Foundation Leadership Forum to hold a legal advice clinic at Casa Azafran on Thursday. Also that day, the Memphis Bar Association Young Lawyers Division partners with the Shelby County public defender to train lawyers on how to handle expungement and restoration of citizenship rights cases. Finally, on Friday, Legal Aid of East Tennessee will hold a pro se clinic in Kingsport. Get details on these and other Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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OnlineTNJustice Nearing 10K Questions Answered

The legal help website OnlineTNJustice is set to hit a major milestone this month with 10,000 questions answered by volunteer lawyers. A virtual celebration is planned to mark the moment. The more than 475 registered volunteers who answer legal questions on the site are being asked to share about their experiences and why they serve. Reflections can be sent to Comments will be shared on social media and lawyers are encouraged to share their own posts as well as those posted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) with the hashtag #OTJ10k. is a joint project of TALS and the TBA. 

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7th Annual ‘Celebrate Pro Bono Month’ Underway

Tennessee lawyers offering free legal services across the state during October

NASHVILLE, Oct. 13, 2015 — October is “Celebrate Pro Bono Month” in Tennessee and lawyers across the state are joining in a nationwide effort to provide free legal services to those in need. The celebratory month also honors the good work performed by lawyers every day.

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Volunteers Needed for Nashville Legal Clinic

Volunteers are needed for Lipscomb’s legal clinic in Nashville on Oct. 20, 5:30 – 8 p.m. at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. N. Attorneys will meet at 5:15 p.m. For more information, contact Randy Spivey at 615-966-2503.

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Predators Event and Pro Bono Awards Ceremony in Nashville

Two celebrations are planned for the coming weeks in Nashville during Celebrate Pro Bono Month. The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands invites all pro bono lawyers to enjoy a hockey game at the Nashville Predators Celebrate Pro Bono event on Oct. 20. A reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. before the game at 7 p.m. at the Bridgestone Arena on 501 Broadway. For more information, contact Lucinda Smith.

The Tennessee Supreme Court and Access to Justice Commission will hold its Pro Bono Awards Ceremony on Oct. 28, 5 p.m. at Belmont College of Law, 1900 Belmont Blvd. The commission will recognize attorneys and students who have completed at least 50 hours of pro bono service. Contact Christian Donaldson for more information. See a full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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LAET Attorney Stunned by Knoxville Family's Eviction

Attorney Terry Woods with Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) said she has never seen an eviction like the one that forced Lisa Love and her family out their Knoxville home, WATE reports. Love lost her home due to financial difficulties stemming from Love’s 2009 unemployment and disability application. LAET will host an Open Clinic and InterFaith Legal Advice Clinic in Knoxville during Celebrate Pro Bono Month on Oct. 24, 9:15 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the John Tarleton Gymnasium Helen Ross McNabb Center, 2455 Sutherland Ave. No appointments are necessary and Spanish-speaking interpreters will be available. Contact Woods for more information.

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Anderson County Juvenile Court Honored

Judge Brian J. Hunt and his staff of the Anderson County Juvenile Court were honored with the inaugural Community Award by the Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. “The Anderson County Juvenile Court pioneered the first ever Guardian ad litem project between a local juvenile court and Legal Aid Society,” said Janet Mynatt, managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. “With the court’s help, attorneys are able to identify and provide post-adjudication guardianship for children in the care of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services – some of our most vulnerable youth.”

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Share Your Celebrate Pro Bono Event Photos

Celebrate Pro Bono Month is underway with more than 50 events planned across the state of Tennessee. We have a complied an online list of events and volunteer opportunities. If you or your firm attend a Celebrate Pro Bono event, please share photos with us to help us promote the good work happening across the state during this initiative. Send photos to or tweet them to us by tagging @TennesseeBar.

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Drugs, Pro Bono and Other Legal Topics Covered in This Issue

Jason R. Smith writes in this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal about controlled drug purchases and the probable cause necessary to issue a search warrant. TBA President Bill Harbison tells about some of his pro bono heroes and -- thanks everyone who gives of their time to ensure access to justice for all. Columnist Monica Franklin covers changes in the CHOICES Group 3 Program, and Ward Phillips and Brandon Morrow write about a recent win for the Employment-at-Will doctrine. Humor columnist Bill Haltom warns about the “para-lawyers” who might be coming to a courtroom near you. Read the October issue.

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