News

Law Firms Nominated as Healthiest Employers

Three law firms have been selected as finalists for the Nashville Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers Award. Baker Donelson, Burr & Forman and Butler Snow are among 19 companies chosen by Indianapolis-based Healthiest Employers LLC. Winners will be announced during a health fair and luncheon on Aug. 18. See the full list of finalists.

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Lowest Paid Lawyers Report Greatest Happiness

A new study by Florida State University law professor Lawrence S. Krieger found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as a high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost no correlation with happiness and well being. However, the study found that lawyers in public-service jobs, who typically make less money, were most likely to report being happy. The survey of 6,200 lawyers also found that lawyers in public-service jobs drank less alcohol than their higher-income peers, and despite the large gap in affluence, the two groups were equally satisfied with their lives. The New York Times’ wellness blog reports on the study.

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Hooker Weighs in as Committee Considers 'Death with Dignity'

This summer, state lawmakers will gather to discuss the controversial issue of death with dignity and whether or not those with a terminal illness have the right to decide when to die. Now John Jay Hooker, who has been diagnosed with terminal melanoma, is championing this cause and fighting for the right to die with dignity. “I think if a person is suffering wants to leave this earth that the government’s got no business to tell them that they got to suffer and stay,” he told WKRN.

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New Members Named to TLAP Board

New appointments to the board of the Tennessee Lawyer Assistance Program (TLAP) have been made and will take office June 1. New members are Michael G. Derrick, Dr. Roland Gray, Mark Westlake and Cynthia Wyrick. Those being reappointed for the 2015-2016 bar year are Nancy Corley, Drew McElroy and Bruce Seidner. In addition, Circuit Court Judge Rhynette Hurd is being appointed to fill a vacancy. Four members are ineligible for reappointment and are stepping down. They are Andrew Branham, Cynthia Cheatham, James Cornelius and Peter Harris. The group must still appoint a vice-chair and secretary/treasurer for the upcoming year. Access the current roster.

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Profile: A Law Firm that Lets Partners be Parents

The Washington, D.C., area law firm, the Geller Law Group, is making news. The six-woman firm has a credo based on family-friendliness and flexibility. It does not even have a permanent office. A profile in the New York Times finds that the partners have a “near-evangelical determination" to prove that professionals can advance their careers while they remain fully present in their children’s lives.”

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Apply for 30th Judicial District Chancellor Opening by May 26

The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for the Chancery Court judge vacancy in the 30th Judicial District, Shelby County, which was created by the death of the Hon. Oscar Carr III. Applications are due by noon CDT May 26. All qualified applicants will be interviewed in Memphis June 17.

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Applications Due Friday for 3rd Mentoring Class

Applications for the TBA’s third mentoring class are being accepted through this Friday. The program will begin in February and run through December. Those interested in participating can learn more on the TBA’s mentoring website or by contacting Christy Gibson at (615) 383-7421. In related news, the first TBA Mentoring class wraps up its year this week while the second class will continue through early summer.

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When Your Holiday Is a Nightmare

Although the holidays are a season of joy and celebration, they are also packed with stress and can bring on lots of anxiety. Family and financial difficulties can lead to increased alcohol consumption and/or depression that affects so many people — and in particular, lawyers — during the holidays. In his December column, TBA President Jonathan Steen gives hope and suggestions for help to anyone whose holidays are not picture-perfect, reminding readers about the life-saving services the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) offers -- free, confidential consultation, referral, intervention and crisis counseling for lawyers, judges, bar applicants and law students who are struggling with substance abuse, stress or depression.

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Study: Overweight Women Lose in Labor Market

Overweight women are more likely to work in lower-paying and more physically demanding jobs; less likely to get higher-wage positions that include interaction with the public; and make less money in either case compared to average-size women and all men, according to a new Vanderbilt study. From a legal perspective, there has been a lot of discussion on whether an obese individual is considered disabled in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jennifer Shinall, assistant professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School and author of “Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty,” suggests that when it comes to discrimination lawsuits, the ADA may not be the correct avenue since obese women are actually filling strenuous physical labor jobs. “What seems to be going on in the labor market may be more of a sex discrimination issue that could be tied to Title VII,” she told Newswise.

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Lawyers to Run Overnight Relay for Charity

Lawyers from Lewis Thomason’s Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis offices are participating in the Ragnar Tennessee, a 12-person overnight relay spanning roughly 200 miles that benefits Soles 4 Souls. The race begins in downtown Chattanooga on Oct. 24 at 7:30 a.m. and will require the team to run day and night, roughly 31 hours, according to the press release. The relay wraps up Oct. 25 in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame. For more information, contact Bob Chapski at (615) 259-1366.

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ABA to Partner with Treatment Center in Study of Attorney Depression, Substance Abuse and Anxiety

Martha Nell discusses the American Bar Association's collaboration with Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to research depression among lawyers.  To learn more about this joint effort, please click here for more information. 

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'Justice in Motion' Proceeds Presented to Domestic Violence Shelters

First Judicial District Attorney General Tony Clark and Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal presented checks to two local domestic violence shelters yesterday, WJHL reports. Clark and Graybeal presented the proceeds from the April 26 Justice in Motion 5K run/walk to Safe Passage of Johnson City and CHIPS of Erwin. The checks totaled more than $5,000.

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Legal Sector Jobs Fall in April

The legal services sector lost 1,200 jobs in April, the steepest one-month dip in employment numbers in five months, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s latest monthly report. There were still 700 more jobs in April compared to the same time last year, but the total number of legal jobs – 1,136,400 – is well below the 10-year high of 1,180,000 set in May 2007, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

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Britton Named to NALP Planning Council

Karen Britton, director of admissions, financial aid and the Career Center at the University of Tennessee College of Law, is a new member of the Past Presidents Council of The National Association for Law Placement (NALP). As such, she will have a formal role in the organization’s long-range strategic planning process. The law school also reports that Britton will continue as a member of NALP’s Lawyer Career Pathways & Satisfaction Work Group, which is designing a research tool to measure law school graduate employment status and career satisfaction. A pilot program with 20 law schools, including UT, is currently underway. Results will be used to refine the tool for a national launch this summer.

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May TBJ Looks Into Alternative Careers for Lawyers

A recent study indicates that fewer lawyers are practicing traditional law than ever before. In the May issue, the Tennessee Bar Journal takes a look at some Tennessee lawyers who have chosen career paths that use their law degrees in alternative ways. Also headlining this issue, George Orwell's classic essay on writing and how it can help lawyers and judges communicate more effectively. Read these and more in the May TBJ.

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Bike Ride to Honor Lebanon Attorney, Raise Funds

A bicycle ride to honor Lebanon attorney Jere McCulloch's life and to raise funds for a special needs organization will be April 26 at the Wilson County Fairgrounds. McCulloch died of a heart attack last August while competing in the Heart of Tennessee 100, a bicycle race sponsored by the Murfreesboro Bicycle Club. He was a founding partner of Rochelle, McCulloch and Aulds. The first "Jere’s Ride," sponsored by Leadership Wilson, will feature three course options, a three-mile family ride, a 15-mile novice course and a 31-mile expert race. Jere’s Ride will benefit the Empower Me Day Camp, a nonprofit corporation established to provide more opportunities for children with disabilities in the greater Nashville area. The Lebanon Democrat has more.

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Lawyer Suicide Addressed, 'Paine on Procedure' Continues

In her latest Journal column, Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick addresses the subject of lawyer suicide and offers tips about what to say to a colleague who you suspect is suicidal, and what you can do if you find yourself feeling that way. And "Paine on Procedure" continues with another column Don Paine wrote before his death, this one about aggravated rape of a dead victim.

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Drug Testing of Judges Proposed in New Bill

A bill filed for introduction by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, would allow for drug testing of judges in criminal trials on the motion and demand of either party. If the judge refuses, the judge would be deemed disabled for that trial and a new judge appointed. If neither party brings the motion for drug testing, the issue may not be asserted on appeal. Check out TBAImpact for the TBA take on this new legislation

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Suicide and the Legal Profession

Recent data from the Center for Disease Control suggests that lawyers rank fourth in proportion of suicides by profession. Due in part to professional stress, lawyers are 3.6 times more prone to suffer from depression than non-lawyers, a condition identified by the American Psychological Association as the most likely trigger for suicide. Many state bar associations are working to curb this disturbing trend, CNN reports. Eight out of the 50 bar associations they reviewed are so concerned about suicide, they took measures such as adding a “mental health” component to mandatory CLE. In Tennessee, the Supreme Court created the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) to help attorneys with alcohol and drug abuse, depression and suicide. Since its inception in 1999, TLAP has helped more than 300 attroneys. Read more about TLAP and other impaired lawyer resources in a 2011 issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal

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Do You Find Curling up with a Good Book to be Therapeutic?

Check out David Mikics article from The New York Times titled In Praise of (Offline) Slow Reading and let us know your thoughts.

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Court Upholds Sentencing Review Standards for Capital Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, has upheld a death sentence for a Memphis-area man who was convicted of first-degree felony murder. While the entire court agreed that Corinio Pruitt was guilty, the dissenting justices would have modified the sentence to life without parole. The majority concluded that the sentence of death was not imposed arbitrarily, that the evidence supported the jury’s finding of guilt, and that the sentence was not excessive or disproportionate. In their separate opinion, Justice William C. Koch Jr. and Justice Sharon G. Lee wrote that comparing all first-degree murder cases would be more consistent with the Tennessee law that requires proportionality review and with the rule that capital punishment is not appropriate for all murders but is reserved for only the most heinous murders and the most dangerous murderers. The two dissenting justices also pointed to a 2007 American Bar Association study of Tennessee’s death penalty, which said that the limited pool of cases the court adopted in 1997 undercut the purpose of proportionality review.

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Report: Lawyer Assistance Programs Expand Scope

Despite budget reductions in some jurisdictions, lawyer assistance programs in 48 states have reported a continued commitment to maintaining the number of clients served and offering a diversity of services, the ABA reports. According to a 2012 report from the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, while all programs continued to offer services related to alcoholism and drug addiction, more programs in 2012 than in 2010 provided services for other problems, such as cognitive impairment and mental health issues.

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Memphis Judge, Nashville Lawyer Receive TLAP Awards

Memphis Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft has been given the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program’s (TLAP) first Judicial Volunteer of the Year Award. He was recognized for his participation in the Judicial Assistance Group (JAG) – a network of Tennessee judges who volunteer their time to make sure TLAP’s consultation, intervention, expertise and assistance is available to other judges and lawyers. The group also named Nashville lawyer Becky Freeman its attorney volunteer of the year and presented her with the Stephenson Todd Award. Freeman is an attorney with Metro Nashville’s General Sessions Court Probation Department. Read more about the winners in this press release from the program.

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Better Next Year: Program Helps Lawyers Thrive

The Better Next Year program offered a range of opportunities to explore a healthier life, build better relationships, manage stress, and use relaxation techniques to find the balance we need at home and at the office.

This program included short rotating presentations, exhibits, and demonstrations, all designed to help lawyers increase their energy and engagement.

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Survey Finds Weight Gain a Job Hazard for Lawyers

Lawyers, judges and other legal professionals work in one of the top professions for weight gain, the ABA Journal reports. According to a Career Builder survey of nearly 3700 full time workers, 48 percent of legal professionals reported weight gain in their current jobs.

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