News

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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Opinion: Gender Gap Continues to be Problem

Despite a substantial growth in the number of female attorneys, a gender gap continues to exist in the legal profession, Nashville attorney Ann Peldo Cargile of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings writes in today’s Tennessean. Not only are fewer female attorneys reaching partner status, many are leaving the profession entirely, she writes. These trends and ways that firms can develop better practices for hiring, developing and retaining diverse legal talent will be the topic of a program at this year’s Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention in Nashville. Presented jointly by the TBA and Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women, the session will be part of the CLE lineup during the June 12-15 event.

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Vandy Law Professor Teaches Judges to Channel Emotions on the Bench

In the wake of the viral video of a Florida judge’s harsh reaction to a disrespectful teenage defendant, Vanderbilt law professor Terry Maroney held a session for roughly 40 judges in Washington about how to channel a range of feelings on the bench in an appropriate manner. “We tell judges, 'If you ever detect an emotion, squelch it.' That's an extremely bad idea," she told the Newstimes. "You're going to have emotions as a judge, no matter how many people tell you you won't or aren't supposed to."

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Magazine Names Tenn. Firms Among Top for Working Mothers

Working Mother magazine recently named three law firms with Tennessee offices among the best in the country for working mothers. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings in Nashville, Husch Blackwell in Chattanooga and Memphis, and Littler Mendelson in Memphis and Nashville all were noted for leading the way in attracting, retaining, and promoting women lawyers.

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Former Lawyer Opens Gluten-Free Restaurant

Former Chattanooga lawyer Karen Wilson is bringing her vision for a gluten-free restaurant in Chattanooga to life. Crave Café & Bakery will open in Warehouse Row's food court in January. While putting herself through college and law school, Wilson worked in the restaurant industry. After discovering her intolerance to gluten, she started baking, cooking and experimenting more. Nooga.com has the story

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Judge Childers Honored with Leadership Award

The Hazelden Legal Professionals Program awarded its first "Excellence in Legal Community Leadership Award" to Memphis Judge Robert L. Childers, immediate past chair of the American Bar Association's Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, at a retreat last week. Hazelden employee Link Christin presented the award to Childers saying, "I am honored to present this first annual leadership award to a true giant in the field, a person who has literally dedicated his professional life to helping others triumph over addiction in our legal profession.” Read more and see a photo on the AOC website.

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Childers' Daughter Dies, Court Closed This Week

Division IX of Shelby County Circuit Court will be closed this week, after the sudden death of Judge Robert L. Childers' daughter, Lisa Kay Childers Dickerson. She died Friday from complications of leukemia. Arrangements are incomplete at this time. For more information, contact court clerk Carlyse Nevels.

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Memphis Lawyer Changes to Healthy Lifestyle

Memphis lawyer Larry Rice talks about his decision to lose weight and lead a healthier life in a the Commercial Appeal article. "When they tell you you shouldn't eat sweets and you should exercise or your toes are going to rot off and you'll go blind, diet and exercise suddenly goes from being a good idea to a well-motivated part of your life," Rice says.

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Americans Are Living Longer Than Ever Before; Here's Help Planning for It

A new, discounted, long-term care plan is now available to Tennessee Bar Association members and their families. Long-term care services help you maximize your independence and protect your nest egg. Call Graham Swafford at the Tennessee Bar Center for details at 615-383-7421.

Veterans Court Opens in Clarksville

A court aimed at helping veterans who come to the criminal justice system as a result of drug addictions, homelessness and other situations brought on by the ravages of untreated wartime stress held its first session this week in Clarksville. General Sessions Judge Ken Goble brought the court to order on Tuesday, telling one early participant, “This is for those who have sacrificed and are now in a bad place. This is a chance to get you off the road you’re on.” Learn more about the court from the AOC.

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Memphis Attorney Brings Faith, Fight to Battle With Cancer

Memphis attorney Elizabeth Collins has taken the drive and competitive nature from the courtroom to her battle with cancer. That, plus a strong faith and treatment from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, have kept her in practice now eight years following an initial diagnosis that said she only had three to six months to live. The Commercial Appeal tells us more of her inspiring story.

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Lawyers, Judges Among Most Likely to Gain Weight

A recent survey of more than 5,700 workers found that lawyers and judges are among those most likely to report a weight gain at their current job. Among all workers who added pounds, 54 percent said it was because of sitting at their desk most of the day; 56 percent said they also ate their lunch at their desk. Other reasons included eating because of stress (reported by 37 percent) and eating out regularly (reported by 23 percent). ABAJournal.com connects you to the survey

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Memphis Judge Receives Judicial Service Award

News from the TBA Board of Governors
Memphis Circuit Court Judge Robert L. Childers was honored with the Tennessee Bar Association's Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award today at the group’s annual meeting in Memphis. The Drowota Award is given to a judge or judicial branch official of a federal, state or local court in Tennessee who has demonstrated extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice as exemplified by the career of former Supreme Court Justice Frank F. Drowota III – the award’s first recipient.

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Editorial: Positive Steps for Integrity of Judicial System

In an editorial, the News Sentinel says that recent events regarding former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner are "positive steps for the integrity of the Knox County judicial system." The first step was when the state Supreme Court on May 15 released an order signaling its possible willingness to review three overturned murder convictions from Baumgartner's court stemming from a brutal double murder. The second step was when, on the same day, Baumgarter was arrested and arraigned in federal court on seven counts of failing to report felonious acts. "We are confident that justice, in the end, will be served," the paper says.

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Bar Exam Results Now Available

Results from the February 2012 Tennessee bar examination are now available. View the list of successful candidates