News

Law Prof: Affirmative Action Needs to Stay in Place

Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy tackles the complex issue of affirmative action in his book “For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law.” According to Kennedy, affirmative action needs to stay in place in order to rectify, at least partially, the continued injuries that put certain racial minorities at a competitive disadvantage with their white peers. “Despite wide-ranging attacks against affirmative action,” Kennedy writes, “it has, remarkably, continued to survive.” That may be, arguably, because it’s sometimes “justified as a means” of reparation, diversity and integration, and “countering ongoing racial prejudice.” The Nashville Ledger has more.

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LMU Black Law Student Association Hosts Academic Retreat

The Black Law Student Association at Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law will host “Pushing Progress through the Pipeline” an academic retreat Oct. 18-19 at the DSOL Campus in Knoxville. Pre-law students, current and graduating students, as well as recent graduates are encouraged to attend. For more information, download the retreat schedule or contact Aisha DeBerry.

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Group Charges Bank of America With Discrimination in Memphis

A complaint from the National Fair Housing Alliance  alleges Bank of America discriminated against minority neighborhoods and property owners in Memphis in the way it handled bank-owned properties. The complaint, filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, charges that Bank of America failed to maintain and market properties in minority neighborhoods, while giving special treatment to its homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. Bank of America has denied the allegations, the Memphis Daily News reports.

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Law Students Meet With Firms at TBA Diversity Job Fair

Lawyers from across the state met with prospective employees during the 3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair in Nashville this past weekend. During the two-day event at the Tennessee Bar Center, more than 60 students from the state's six law schools and schools in surrounding states learned from and interviewed with Tennessee law firms and government agencies. See photos from the event.

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3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair Held in Nashville

More than 60 students from law schools across the region interviewed with Tennessee law firms and government agencies during the third annual TBA Diversity Job Fair, Aug. 23-24, at the Tennessee Bar Center. The event began with a panel discussion on how to find a job in the current market and was followed by a networking reception and a full day of interviews.

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Job Fair: Matching Firms With Diverse Law Students

More than 60 law students from across the country are interviewing with Tennessee firms this weekend as part of the 3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair at the Tennessee Bar Center. The two-day event, sponsored by the TBA's Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, kicks off today with an educational session on "Finding a Job in the Current Market" and a networking reception. On Saturday, 17 Tennessee law firms and agencies will conduct interviews throughout the day for both summer associate and full-time positions. Of the 22 law schools sending students to the job fair, most are in Tennessee and surrounding states, although students are coming from as far away as Louisana and Texas.

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Judge Ponders Remaining Issues in Schools Suit

With voters in the six suburbs of Memphis all approving the formation of municipal schools districts, Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays wants to hear from all sides in a pending lawsuit challenging the suburbs’ authority to create those districts, the Memphis Daily News reports. Mays asked the parties to present any remaining issues and argue their positions on two points: whether a 2013 law that lifted the ban on municipal districts statewide effectively ends the need for a ruling in the case, and whether the creation of suburban districts violates the Equal Protection Clause. Attorneys for Shelby County have argued that new suburban schools would racially resegregate public education in the area. Suburban leaders have denied that will happen.

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Minority Law Student Reception to Offer New Buddy Program

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA), the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law invite area lawyers and law students to their annual Minority Law Student Reception. The event will take place Sept. 24 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at The Southern Depot, 318 W. Depot Ave. Curtis L. Collier, U.S. District Judge Eastern District of Tennessee, will be the guest speaker. The KBA also announced a “Buddy Match Program” to pair practicing lawyers with minority law students who plan to attend. To participate in the Buddy Program RSVP to (865) 522-6522 by Sept. 15. Others should respond by Sept. 19.

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Judge McMullen Makes Historic First

Judge Camille R. McMullen became the first African American woman to preside over a panel of an appellate court proceeding in the state of Tennessee this week. McMullen, of Shelby County, presided over the August term of the Court of Appeals, Western Section in Jackson on Tuesday. “Judge McMullen has proven herself to be a respected colleague and it was time that this barrier was broken,” Judge Thomas Woodall of Dixon said in a press release. “Today is a good day for the state of Tennessee and the judicial system.” Judge McMullen first made history in 2008 becoming the first African American woman to serve on a state appellate court. The AOC announced the news today.

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Law Prof: LSAT Not to Blame for Lack of Minority Lawyers

University of Virginia School of Law professor Alex Johnson Jr. argues that blame for the underrepresentation of minorities in the legal profession is misplaced, the National Law Journal reports. Instead of identifying the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as a major barrier to black and Hispanic law school applicants, Johnson writes in the latest edition of the Stanford Law & Policy Review that the real reason is because these students tend to “misapply” to law schools that are unlikely to admit them because of their grades and LSAT scores. He also says a disproportionate percentage of minority law grads take the bar exam in states with the toughest pass cutoffs. Other legal educators took Johnson’s conclusions with a grain of salt. “I don’t think that this ‘misapplication’ alone can explain the large number of shutouts that occur,” said John Nussbaumer, an associate dean at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School who has researched the correlation between LSAT scores and the admission of minority applicants.

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KBA Plans Annual Supreme Court Dinner

Each year, the Knoxville Bar Association hosts a dinner to pay tribute to the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court as well as the local judiciary. This year’s event will be Sept. 4 at the newly renovated Holiday Inn World's Fair Park. Free parking is available in the hotel garage. The event begins with a reception in the Sundries Courtyard at 6 p.m., followed by dinner in the Grand Pavilion at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 each and tables of 10 may be reserved in advance. This year’s dinner will feature Birmingham attorney Freddy Rubio and his wife Isabel, who have been at the forefront of advocacy for the Hispanic community. Read more about the Rubios in the KBA’s monthly magazine DICTA.

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Ginsburg Says Push for Voter ID Laws is Predictable

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she is not surprised that Southern states have pushed ahead with tough voter identification laws and other measures since the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections. In an interview with The Associated Press, Ginsburg said that Texas' decision to implement its voter ID law hours after the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month was powerful evidence of an ongoing need to keep states with a history of voting discrimination from making changes in the way they hold elections without getting advance approval from Washington. “The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn't make any sense to me," Ginsburg said in a wide-ranging interview late Wednesday in her office at the court. "And one really could have predicted what was going to happen."

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DOJ to Challenge Voting Rights Act Ruling

In response to last month’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain advance approval before putting in place future political redistricting or other voting changes. Holder called the Voting Rights Act "the cornerstone of modern civil rights law" and said that "we cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve." WRCB has the story.

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TBA Wins Top Awards for Programming

The Tennessee Bar Association today was recognized with two of the top awards from the Tennessee Society of Association Executives. The TBA’s Diversity Job Fair was named an Award of Excellence recipient and the association’s statewide series on Balancing Civility & Free Expression was named winner of the Associations Advance Tennessee Award. The TBA’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity worked with TBA Programs Director Lynn Pointer to produce the job fair, while TBA Public Education Coordinator Liz Todaro worked with the Public Education Committee to produce the civility series. “These programs have both well supported and well received by the Tennessee legal community,” TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur said, “but it is also gratifying to receive this recognition from our peers in the association world.”

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ABA Honoring Judge It Once Opposed

Alabama's first black federal judge, U.W. Clemon of Birmingham, will be honored next month by the ABA despite the fact that the group opposed his appointment 33 years ago, WKRN reports. The ABA is scheduled to give its 2013 John H. Pickering Award to Clemon, who is now retired, at its annual meeting in San Francisco. Clemon said he was gratified to be selected for the award and that it showed how far the association had come. President Jimmy Carter nominated Clemon in 1980, and he was approved by the U.S. Senate though the ABA found at the time that he was unqualified.

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State NAACP Speaks Against Supreme Court Decision

The Tennessee Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) spoke out yesterday at City Hall in Jackson against the U.S. Supreme Court decision to do away with Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. That section required states and localities with a history of discrimination to submit their election laws to the Justice Department for approval. Although Tennessee election laws were not subject to  Justice Department reviews, Tennessee Conference of NAACP President Gloria Sweet-Love said it is important to guard the rights of a few to protect the rights of all. Read more from the Jackson Sun.

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Bar Passage Proposal Alarms Diversity Advocates

The National Bar Association, the largest association of black lawyers and judges, is opposing a proposal to increase the ABA’s minimum bar-passage rate for law schools from 75 to 85 percent, the National Law Journal reports. “Any undertaking of a change to law school accreditation standards must include a thorough consideration of any potential impact the change may have on students of color," U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., wrote in a letter to the ABA last week. "Otherwise, such a change may only exacerbate the lack of diversity within the legal profession."


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Court Strikes Down Key Part of Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court today struck down a key provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that establishes a formula to identify states that may require extra scrutiny by the Justice Department regarding voting procedures, NPR reports. Read additional commentary on the case leading up to the decision from Scotusblog.

Study Details Obstacles Confronting Minority Law Students

Diversity may be a priority for some law schools, but minority law students still face a harder road to a juris doctor than their white counterparts, according to an article in the latest edition of the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy. 
"Measuring Racial Uneveness of Law School" concludes that minority law students face additional hurdles as a result of the structure of law school, the relatively small number of minority students and faculty on law campuses, and racial bias. 
The National Law Journal has the story.

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Top Law Firms Ranked According to Diversity

The American Lawyer surveyed the country’s largest and highest-grossing law firms and ranked them according to their percentage of minority attorneys and partners. Of the 228 firms ranked, Memphis-based Baker Donelson and Nashville’s Bass Berry and Sims came in at numbers 167 and 190, respectively.

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Friday is Deadline for Employers to Join Diversity Job Fair

Tennessee legal employers planning to participate in the 3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair have until Friday to register to participate. There are also sponsorship opportunities available for firms that wish to participate in that way. More than 30 law schools in Tennessee and surrounding states have signed up to participate in the job fair set for Aug. 23-24 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. The event provides legal employers in Tennessee the opportunity to interview diverse 2L and 3L law students for summer associate positions, clerkships and associate attorney positions. To learn more, sign up online or email TBA Programs Director Lynn Pointer or call her at (615) 383-7421. The TBA Diversity Job Fair is an initiative of the TBA Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

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Memphis Law Honors BLSA Students

The University of Memphis School of Law recently honored eight African American students who graduated this month. The special ceremony, known as The Kenneth Cox Ceremony, recognizes each graduating Black Law Student Association (BLSA) member for his or her contribution to the law school’s academic, cultural and professional environments. The ceremony is named in honor of one of the law school’s first African-American graduates, Kenneth Maurice Cox. This year’s honorees are Angela Harris, Shalondra Pickford, Courtney Smith, Laura Smittick-James, William Terrell II, Kenneth Walker II, Natasha Wells and Thomas Williams.

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Memphis Law Professor, Program Honored

University of Memphis School of Law professor Lee Harris has been named among the most influential minority law professors in the nation by the magazine Lawyers of Color. Harris has taught at the school since 2005 in the areas of contracts, corporations and mergers and acquisitions. Before joining the Memphis faculty, he worked at Baker Donelson in Memphis. Harris earned his law degree from Yale and was a visiting student at the London School of Economics. The publication also recently recognized the school's Tennessee Institute for PreLaw as a successful program giving diverse high school students the opportunity to be eligible for law school admission.

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This Day in History: 1954 Ruling Ended 'Separate but Equal'

On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that state laws establishing separate but equal educational institutions for blacks and whites violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The primary question Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the court’s opinion is “the constitutionality of segregation in public education. We have now announced that such segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws.” In an opinion piece for the Tennessean, Frank Daniels III examines the societal and legal impact this groundbreaking ruling had on the American educational system.

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30+ Law Schools to Take Part in TBA Diversity Job Fair

More than 30 law schools in Tennessee and surrounding states have signed up to participate in the 3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair set for Aug. 23-24 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. This event provides legal employers in Tennessee the opportunity to interview diverse 2L and 3L law students for summer associate positions, clerkships and associate attorney positions. The employer registration deadline is June 7. To learn more, sign up online or contact TBA Programs Director Lynn Pointer. The TBA Diversity Job Fair is an initiative of the TBA Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

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