News

Free Mental Health Screening for Law Students

It’s #MentalHealthDay, and Screening for Mental Health has partnered with the Dave Nee Foundation to provide free mental health screenings for law students. Last year, 72 percent of law students who took the screening scored positive for symptoms consistent with depression. The 3-5 min survey, shared by the ABA For Law Students, is available for a few weeks. 

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Law School Debt, Anxiety Rising

Almost 70 percent of law students borrowing a hefty amount expect to graduate owing more than $120,000 in student loans, an amount that is up from 2011. A survey of 80 campuses in the annual Law School Survey of Student Engagement found that the increasing debt levels are contributing to increased stress and anxiety for law students. The survey also suggests, according to The National Law Journal (sub. req.), that minority students and those with lower LSAT scores are paying more than their white and Asian classmates and those with higher LSAT scores.

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Study: Substance Abuse, Mental Health Issues Plague Attorneys

A new study sheds light on the substantial levels of problem drinking and mental health issues plaguing attorneys, according to the American Bar Association. The national study, conducted by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and reported this week in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found that rates of problem drinking increased as individuals spent more time in the legal profession. The study reports that 21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers and that 28 percent of attorneys struggle with some level of depression.

“Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming, and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that’s harming too many people,” said Patrick R. Krill, lead author of the study. In Tennessee, help is available through the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). Learn more about how TLAP can help.

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Advice for Attorneys on Making and Keeping Resolutions

How can attorneys make and keep reasonable resolutions for their careers? The ABA Journal features a podcast (with transcript) with tips for making and keeping achievable goals. “The starting point often is: Where does my success come from and how can I do more of the same? You know, where did my best clients come from? Where are my best relationships?” Karen Kaplowitz, president of a business-development consulting firm, said.

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Most Lawyers are Introverts, Study Finds

The majority of lawyers are introverts, according to a study, and the ABA Journal says that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Many lawyers spend a lot of time by themselves — reading, writing, thinking — compared to other jobs where the majority of the work is interacting. Introverts make good lawyers, especially for clients who want a thoughtful answer,” said Eva Wisnik, president of the firm that conducted the study.

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Book Signings, Readings Set for Phillips's New Book

Chattanooga lawyer John B. Phillips  will read from his first non-legal book, A Time To Be Born: Meditations on the Birth of a Child, on Nov. 6, at the Chattanooga WorkSpace, 302 E. 6th St., beginning at 5:30 p.m. A Nov. 12 event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gallery 1401, 1478 Market St. Each meditation in the book, inspired by the births of his first two grandchildren, is based on a passage of scripture about pregnancy and childbirth and is accompanied by a piece of original art that complements and expands each meditation.

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TLAP, Rules Commission Issue Updated Rosters

The Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure have released updated rosters of their governing membership. See the current lists at the links above.

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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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