News

October Issue Features Justice Wade's New Role

Learn about Justice Gary Wade as he leaves the Tennessee Supreme Court to take the helm as dean of the Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University in the October issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal. It is CELEBRATE PRO BONO MONTH and for that author Russell Fowler looks at one former U.S. president who came back as a senior lawyer in a heroic way, representing the Africans aboard the Amistad in 1839.

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2015 Celebrate Pro Bono Month Resources

The 2015 Celebrate Pro Bono Initiative is in full swing with more than 50 events planned across the state during the month of October. Tennessee lawyers help thousands of clients throughout the year by providing free legal advice, but this assistance is especially celebrated and emphasized during the month of October as part of a nationwide celebration. 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. This year's celebration is expected to involve more than 300 volunteers -- including lawyers, law students, paralegals and language interpreters. A summary of events is posted online and will be updated throughout the month.

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Free Clinics, Fundraiser Among Events This Week

Tennessee’s 2015 Celebrate Pro Bono Month kicks off tomorrow with five events, including three legal advice clinics and a fundraiser for the Community Legal Center in Memphis. Events continue on Friday with a legal clinic in Knoxville and a Wills for Heroes clinic sponsored by the TBA Young Lawyers Division in Nashville. See the full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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Apply Now for Supreme Court’s Pro Bono Recognition Program

The Tennessee Supreme Court has extended the deadline for its annual Pro Bono Recognition Program through Nov. 30. Lawyers and law students who completed at least 50 hours of pro bono in calendar year 2014 may apply to be recognized for their service. Those who meet the goal will be named “Attorney for Justice” and “Law Student for Justice” by the court and will be honored at regional events across the state. Law offices are also eligible to be recognized for pro bono work done by their attorneys. Learn more about the process for firm recognition.

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New White House Panel Could Increase Legal Aid in Tennessee

A new White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable, established last week by President Barack Obama, will bring together 20 federal agencies that will work to increase access to civil legal services for low income individuals. "Gaps in the availability of legal aid...for America's poor and middle class threaten to undermine the promise of justice for all and constitute a crisis worthy of action by the federal government," Obama said in creating the roundtable. According to a press release from Legal Aid of East Tennessee, just 10 percent of those who qualify for services are helped in that region due to limited funding. The agency expressed optimism that the presidential action could mean more resources for the state.

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Volunteers Needed For Civil Law Legal Clinic in Memphis

Lawyer volunteers are needed for the free Incarcerated Civil Law Legal Clinic, Sept. 26, 8 a.m - noon at the Shelby County Jail, 201 Poplar Ave. in Memphis. The clinic will offer free legal advice on veteran issues, divorce, bankruptcy and more for the incarcerated and those who cannot afford legal fees.

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LAET to Host Tenants' Rights Workshop in Spanish

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host a free “Tenants’ Rights and Obligations Workshop” for Spanish-speaking residents Oct. 5, 7 p.m. at the Blount County Public Library. Legal topics to be addressed include the eviction process, repairs to property and detainer court. For more information, contact LAET’s Maryville office at 865-981-1818, ext. 1600.

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Tennessee Attorneys' Pro Bono Efforts on the Rise

The number of pro bono hours volunteered by Tennessee attorneys went up by nearly 3,000 in the last reporting year, according to the annual report by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission featured in The Chattanoogan. "Tennessee attorneys continue to respond to the need for free legal assistance,” said Doug Blaze, chairman of the Commission. About 40 percent of all lawyers completed the voluntary filing -- fewer than the year before -- but those who did report gave an average of more than 78 hours in one year, an increase of nearly 6 percent. Read the full report.

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Memphis Child to Host Ribbon Cutting for Medical Legal Partnership

An open house and ribbon cutting for the Children’s Health Law Directive with Memphis Child is planned for Sept. 22, 10:30 a.m. at the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Research Center Lobby, 50 N. Dunlap St. Memphis Child focuses on identifying legal and social issues that impact patient health through a medical legal partnership among the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Memphis Area Legal Services and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

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LAET Seeks Executive Director

Legal Aid of East Tennessee is accepting applications for the position of executive director to lead the nonprofit law firm, following the announcement longtime executive director David R. Yoder will retire Dec. 31. Deadline to apply is Sept. 21.

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Legal Aid Society Appoints Board Members

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands added to its board of directors Katie Bell Klinghard, Nikylan Knapper, Sal Varsalona and Cynthia Jordan, the Nashville Post reports. Klinghard is a fifth-year associate at The Kennedy Law Firm in Clarksville, where she practices various areas of family law, litigation and criminal defense. U.S. Department of Labor attorney Knapper joins the board as a representative of the Napier-Looby Bar Association. Varsalona is an attorney with the law firm of Forrester and Varsalona in Clinton and also serves as the city judge in Rocky Top. Jordan, who currently works for the Oak Ridge Pre-school, was appointed by Anderson County Community Action to represent the Oak Ridge Area.

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Free Legal Clinic Saturday in Nashville

Attorneys will host a free legal clinic in Nashville this Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Hadley Park Community Center, 1039 28th Ave. North. Attorneys who specialize in criminal law, child support, personal injury and more will be available to offer advice, but will not be able to represent clients at future court dates. For more information, contact Rachel Thomas at 615-645-9596.

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Lipscomb to Host Justice Film Festival

Lipscomb University will host the Justice Film Festival, Sept. 11-12, in the school’s Shamblin Theatre.

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TBA President Speaks at EJU Leadership Luncheon

Tennessee lawyers have a unique connection with legal aid organizations, TBA President Bill Harbison told legal services professionals gathered this week at the Equal Justice University, and the Tennessee Bar Association needs to continue its strong and ongoing support for the access to justice community. Other speakers at the Leadership Luncheon included Herman Hicks with First Tennessee, a sponsor of the luncheon, and Memphis Area Legal Services' Cedric Harris.

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Knoxville, Nashville Lawyers Honored at EJU Event

Two Tennessee lawyers were recognized for their commitment to access to justice on Wednesday during the Equal Justice University Awards Dinner. Lenny Croce with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands received the B. Riney Green Award for his collaborative efforts to promote law reform for the protection of low income Tennesseans. And Robert Downs with Legal Aid of East Tennessee received the New Advocate of the Year Award for his creative and effective advocacy efforts on behalf of domestic violence victims in the Knoxville area. See photos from the event.

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2 Honored at EJU Awards Dinner

MURFREESBORO, Sept. 3, 2015 — Two Tennessee lawyers were recognized for their commitment to access to justice on Wednesday during the Equal Justice University Awards Dinner.

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Yoder Honored with Holder Award

Legal Aid of East Tennessee Executive Director Dave Yoder was honored with the 2nd Annual Janice M. Holder Award today during the opening luncheon of Equal Justice University 2015.  The award recognizes an individual who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. Held in Murfreesboro, the event also featured an address from Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby and a presentation from Department of Human Services Commissioner Dr. Raquel Hatter during its first day. EJU continues through Friday morning.

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Yoder Honored at EJU Luncheon

MURFREESBORO, Sept. 2, 2015 — Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby was featured speaker at the opening luncheon of the Equal Justice University today in Murfreesboro. The luncheon also included the presentation of the 2nd Annual Janice M. Holder Award to Dave Yoder, executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

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TJC Launches Charlie Warfield Fellowship

Friends and supporters gathered at the Tennessee Justice Center Wednesday to celebrate the establishment of the Charlie Warfield Fellowship. The fund, established with a generous challenge grant from Frank and Amy Garrison, will support a new lawyer to serve low-income adults with disabilities at the TJC. Additional contributions are being sought to ensure its future of the program. 

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Vanderbilt Honors Civil Rights Attorney George Barrett

Vanderbilt Law School’s Social Justice program was named in honor of Nashville civil rights attorney George E. Barrett, a 1957 graduate of the law school who passed away in 2014. The George Barrett Social Justice Program, established by a gift from Vanderbilt law graduate Darren Robbins, will support students pursuing social justice careers. “I am so grateful to Darren and so honored to be able to recognize George’s tremendous legacy. This is a fitting recognition of George’s lifelong dedication to the public interest," Chris Guthrie, Vanderbilt Law School dean, said. Barrett filed one of his most significant cases in 1968, Geier v. Tennessee, which resulted in the desegregation of Tennessee’s state universities.

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Church Will Become Courtroom, Offer Fugitives Second Chance

Non-violent fugitives who accept responsibility for their actions could appear before a judge and be sent home the same day at the upcoming Fugitive Safe Surrender event Sept. 18-19 in Nashville, Memphis Daily News reports. Galilee Missionary Baptist Church will be turned into a courtroom thanks to volunteers, but police say there are no religious requirements. "It is very important that Nashville's citizens understand that this is a genuine special one-time opportunity for wanted persons to stop looking over their shoulders and clear up outstanding arrest warrants," Chief Steve Anderson said in a statement.

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Legal Aid Society Receives 2 Major Grants

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will receive more than $723,000 over the next three years thanks to two Tennsessee Office of Criminal Justice program grants. Money from a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant and a Service Training Officers Prosecution (STOP) grant will support victims advocacy and counsel at the Legal Aid Society. “The VOCA and STOP grants will help us address the breadth of a victim’s needs and provide legal assistance for matters pertaining to housing, education, immigration, access to benefits and more,” Gary Housepian, executive director of Legal Aid Society, said.

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Comments Sought on 'Plain Language' Forms

The Tennessee Supreme Court is soliciting comments on a number of proposed "plain language" forms and instructions for self-represented litigants to use in uncontested divorces with minor children. The forms were developed by the court's Access to Justice Commission, with input from judges, court clerks, legal aid organizations and others. Comments are due by Oct. 19. Read the order and forms here.

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Save the Date for Upcoming CASA Annual Meeting

The Tennessee CASA 2015 Annual Meeting is planned for Sept. 22, 10 – 11:30 a.m. at the Nashville Public Library located downtown. Watch for more information.

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Golf Tournament to Benefit Legal Aid

Daily and weekly passes can be purchased for the 2015 Knoxville Sentinel Open, planned for Aug. 17-23 at the Fox Den Country Club, to benefit Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Daily passes are $10; weekly passes are $25. Designate Legal Aid of East Tennessee at the bottom of your order form. Use this link for your purchase

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