News

Apply by July 1 for TBA Mentoring Program

The TBA will launch its fourth mentoring class in August and is accepting applications through July 1. TBA members in their first three years of law practice may apply to be matched with a mentor. Those participating in the program will commit to a formal mentoring relationship for one year, with a requirement to meet face-to-face at least once a month. Participants will choose from a variety of curriculum topics. For more information, visit the TBA Mentoring Program webpage or contact TBA staff member Christy Gibson, (615) 383-7421.

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TBJ Explores Mentoring, More

Mentoring programs have benefits not only for those being mentored, but also for those doing the mentoring. In the February Journal, learn about the lessons these unique relationships can teach us. TBA President Jonathan Steen stresses the importance of having a good working relationship with your legislator. And, as the magazine continues celebrating its 50th birthday, look at some of the legal stories that made news in the late '60s. 

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Mentors Needed in Columbia for TBA Program

The TBA Mentoring Program is looking for mentors in rural areas of Tennessee including the Columbia area. Mentors should be attorneys with at least eight years of legal practice experience. For more information contact TBA Mentoring Program Coordinator Christy Gibson, (615) 383-7421.

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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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Apply Now to Be a Mentor

The TBA Mentoring Program is looking for attorneys with at least eight years of legal practice experience to join the program as mentors for upcoming classes. The program specifically needs attorneys in Jackson who practice disability, estate or elder law and those in the Nashville area who practice juvenile law, general solo, real estate, construction law or criminal defense. Visit the TBA website for more information or contact Christy Gibson.

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Deadline for TBA Mentoring Program July 1

 

Applications are due tomorrow (July 1) for the next class of the TBA Mentoring Program. TBA members in their first three years of law practice may apply to be matched with a mentor. Those participating in the program will commit to a formal mentoring relationship for one year, beginning in August, with a requirement that mentors and mentees meet face-to-face at least once a month. Participants will choose from a variety of curriculum topics, materials for which will be available on the TBA website.

In addition to seeking mentees, the TBA is recruiting attorneys with at least eight years of legal practice experience to serve as mentors. Contact Christy Gibson at the TBA for more information.

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Toolkit Offered for Lawyers Ready to Go Solo

With each passing year, more and more Tennessee attorneys decide to "hang their own shingle" and begin a solo or small firm practice. To help these lawyers get a solid start, the TBA has launched the Solo in a Box Toolkit, a new resource offering advice on everything from how to choose an office space to managing client files.

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President Steen Lays Out Plans for Coming Year

Newly sworn in TBA President Jonathan Steen outlined initiatives for the upcoming TBA membership year during his Lawyers Luncheon speech at the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg (June 13). The Jackson attorney plans to carry on the association's work in responding to unjust criticism of our judges and provide educational materials on how to be informed voters. In addition, he wants the association to build on the mentoring and Solo-in-a-Box programs to help lawyers to succeed in the practice of law and deliver first-rate services to their clients. Steen also outlined plans for expanding civics education in schools and developing medical/legal partnerships across the state. Watch his presentation to learn more.

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How to Bill for Your Services

Although you are a professional utilizing your training and special skills to help your clients in ways that they cannot help themselves, at the end of the day, you run a business.  Your business cannot survive without collecting legal fees.

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Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program

A Way Out: Lawyers’ Assistance Program is Free, Confidential and Waiting for Your Call


Note: Tennessee Bar Journal Editor Suzanne Robertson provided this look at resources offered through the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. Names have been changed of people in recovery who were interviewed for this story to protect their identities.



Lawyers argue, bargain and negotiate for a living, so it’s not a surprise that what makes lawyers good at their jobs makes them poor patients.

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What To Do If You Have an Ethics Complaint

I just received a notice of complaint from the Board of Professional Responsibility. What do I do?

When you sort through your mail each day, you are hoping to find envelopes containing checks from happy clients who wish to pay you well for your excellent services. But what happens when you see the envelope with the return address from the Board of Professional Responsibility? Your hands begin to shake and you become instantly terrified. You open the envelope and find a notice that a complaint has been lodged against you with Board. What do you do?

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TBA CLE Resources

The Tennessee Bar Association is committed to providing the Tennessee legal community with exceptional continuing legal education programs. In addition to fulfilling the mandatory fifteen (15) hours of CLE required to maintain your law license, the live and online video courses presented by TBA are an exceptional opportunity for you to hone your craft and become a better lawyer. 

As an added benefit, your TBA membership includes access to three (3) hours of quality CLE at no additional cost!

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TnBar Management Services Practice Tips

These general Practice tips are provided to assist solo and small firm practitioners in the management of their law practices. They are not meant as legal advice, nor binding on the Tennessee Bar Association. Please check the Tennessee Code of Professional Responsibility before implementing any of these tips in your practice.

How’s the financial side of your practice? Are you working harder than ever but not seeing your net income increase? Here are some tips to help you get a handle on the financial side of practicing law.

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Video Programming

There are a number of resources available in video format. Below is a listing of several provided by the Tennessee Bar Association and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

TBA All Access Network

The TBA All Access Network provides members of the Tennessee Bar Association  with a rich source of video programming on topics as diverse as tips for starting your own practice, to an overview of practice areas, to suggestions for advancing your legal career. The service is provided free of charge!

• Going Solo

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Additional Resources

Resource Materials/Books available at the TBA Lending Library

While this toolkit contains a plethora of information, it is only the beginning. As a benefit of your Tennessee Bar Association membership, you can take advantage of the TBA Lending Library, located in the Tennessee Bar Center at 221 Fourth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37129. (For thoses practicing outside the Nashville area, these materials and books can be mailed to you.) Through the lending library, you have free access to several extraordinarily helpful resources, including:

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Mentoring

The TBA Mentoring Program is designed to foster mutually beneficial relationships between the participating attorneys, reduce the isolation experienced by some beginning attorneys, improve the quality of legal services received by clients, place renewed emphasis on the importance of professionalism, and generally benefit the legal profession as a whole.  

When asked about the importance of mentoring, the responses from member attorneys included:

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Pro Bono Opportunities

If the motto ‘and justice for all’ becomes ‘and justice for those who can afford it,’ we threaten the very underpinnings of our social contract.
-
Chief Justice Ronald George, California Supreme Court

Equal justice under law is not just a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building. It is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society . . . It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr.

In Tennessee, there are approximately 79 legal aid attorneys available to assist citizens who are in need of legal assistance but cannot afford to hire counsel.  Unfortunately, there are more than one million citizens living at or below the income threshold. Nearly 1 on 5 Tennesseans cannot afford legal help. Clearly, it is absolutely incumbent on every licensed attorney to donate time to ensure that all citizens of this great state have access to justice, regardless of their economic status.

Luckily, the Tennessee Bar Association is committed to helping our members find opportunities to serve our communities. In fact, from 2009 through 2011 (the last years for which data is available), the percentage of Tennessee attorneys who reported pro bono activity increased 173 percent!

Attorneys provide pro bono service in a variety of ways, including volunteering at organized legal clinics, providing legal services at a free or reduced rate, offering legal advice online at OnlineTNJustice.org, or assisting those in their local or worship community with legal questions.

Below you will find a listing of agencies and organizations across Tennessee that actively use pro bono attorneys to help provide legal services for those in need.

ONLINE TENNESSEE JUSTICE

OnlineTNJustice is based on the walk-in clinic model where clients request brief advice and counsel about a specific civil legal issue from a volunteer lawyer. Lawyers provide information and basic legal advice without any expectation of long-term representation. The purpose of the website is to increase access to advice and information about non-criminal legal matters to those who cannot afford it. There is no fee for the use of the system or for the advice and information provided by the lawyer. OnlineTNJustice is operated by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), which provides liability coverage, files for CLE credit earned by volunteers and offers other technical and volunteer support.

Volunteer Attorney Sign-Up: http://www.onlinetnjustice.org/Account/UseAgreement

Volunteer FAQ: http://www.onlinetnjustice.org/Account/AttorneyFAQ

LEGAL AID ORGANIZATIONS

West Tennessee

Community Legal Center
Meg Jones, Executive Director
910 Vance Avenue
Memphis, TN 38126
(901) 543-3395

Memphis Area Legal Services
Linda Warren Seely, Director of Private Attorney Involvement
109 North Main Street, Suite 200
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-8822
lseely@malsi.org

West Tennessee Legal Services
Kathryn Tucker
Pro Bono Project Director
210 W. Main Street
Jackson, TN 38301
(731) 426-1308
(800) 372-8346
kathrynt@wtls.org

Dyersburg Office
208 East Church Street
Dyersburg, TN 38024
(800) 372-8346

Huntingdon Office
113 West Paris Street
Huntingdon, TN 38344
(800) 372-8346

Selmer Office
141 West Third Street
Selmer, TN 38375
(800) 372-8346

Middle Tennessee

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands
Lucinda Smith, Nashville Pro Bono Program Director
300 Deadrick Street
Nashville, TN 37201
(615) 780-7127
lsmith@las.org

General:
(615) 244-6610 or (800) 238-1443
www.las.org/about/get_involved/volunteer

Clarksville Office
120 Franklin Street
Clarksville, TN 37040
(931) 552-6656

Columbia Office
104 W. 7th Street
Columbia, TN 38402
(931) 381-5533

Cookeville Office
9 South Jefferson Avenue, Suite 102
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 528-7436

Gallatin Office
650 North Water Avenue
Gallatin, TN 37066
(615) 451-1880

Murfreesboro Office
526 North Walnut Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
(615) 890-0905

Oak Ridge Office
226B Broadway
Jackson Square
Oak Ridge, TN 37831
(865) 483-8454

Tullahoma Office
123 NW Atlantic Street
Tullahoma, TN 37388
(931) 455-7000

East Tennessee

Legal Aid of East Tennessee
Terry Woods, Pro Bono Director
502 South Gay Street, Suite 404
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 637-0484
twoods@laet.org

Chattanooga Office
Charlie McDaniel, Pro Bono Director
535 Chestnut Street, Suite 360
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 756-4013
cmcdaniel@laet.org

Johnson City Office
311 W. Walnut Street, Suite 100
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 928-8311

Morristown Office
1001 West 2nd North Street
Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-4850

Southeast Tennessee Legal Services
821 Houston Street, Suite 203
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 756-0128

STATEWIDE LEGAL ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS

ACLU of Tennessee
P.O. Box 120160
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 320-7142
www.aclu-tn.org/cooperatingattorney.htm

Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee
Martha M. Lafferty, Managing Attorney
2416 21st Avenue South, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 298-1080 ext. 128
marthaL@dlactn.org

Southern Migrant Legal Services
A Project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc.
311 Plus Park Blvd., Suite 135
Nashville, TN 37217
(615) 750-1200

Tennessee Justice Center
Chris Coleman, Staff Attorney
301 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37201
(615) 255-0331
ccoleman@tnjustice.org

Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors
Adrienne S. Kittos, Legal Director
Casa Azafran
2195 Nolensville Road
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 823-2512
adrienne.tnjfon@gmail.com

Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts
Casey Gill Summar, Executive Director
1900 Belmont Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 460-8274
VLPA@ABCnashville.org

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Succession Planning

Note: This section is under development. The Tennessee Bar Association is working with the Board of Professional Responsibility to develop substantive succession planning materials that will be available when completed.

Disaster Recovery: Steps to Take in Recovery Effort


Prepared by Suzanne Rose, Management Consultant


Damage Assessment

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Preparing for a Disaster

Safety

• Do you have a written disaster response plan?

• Do you have a written evacuation plan for your office personnel in the event of fire, tornado or flood?

• Has the evacuation plan been distributed to everyone in your office?

• Is a person or group of people in your firm assigned the responsibility for evacuating everyone from the office or building in the event of a disaster?

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Protecting your Practice in the Event of a Disaster

In recent years, Tennessee has been the unfortunate recipient of terrible floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters that have completely leveled law firms. Take this disaster plan self-audit to determine your state of readiness should disaster strike. In addition to the audit, this section contains information that is designed to assist you in the recovery process should a disaster strike.

Tickler and Calendar Systems

There are two systems that each lawyer and law firm should have in place to ensure that deadlines are not missed and files are not neglected - the Tickler System and the Calendar System.

Systems for reminding you to work on files are called Tickler or Diary Systems. The tickler system is one of the most important systems in the law office. It assists the lawyer in anticipating future deadlines, planning work and preventing files from being neglected.

Systems for reminding you of critical deadlines and appointments are called Calendar or Docket Systems.

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Conflict of Interest Systems

It is essential (and absolutely required by most malpractice insurance carriers) that you institute a conflict of interest system.  While you may initially remember the name of every client and opposing party in all of your cases, as your practice continues, your memory will fade.  You must have a designated system to check for conflicts when new potential clients walk through your door.

Common Areas Where Conflicts Arise:

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Client Relations and Communication

Client communication (or lack of adequate client communication) represents a significant percentage of the total number of malpractice claims and ethical complaints received by insurers and the Board of Professional Responsibility. The following general procedures should be implemented in a law practice to avoid client communication problems.

Correspondence & Communication
The attorney should communicate with the client and document all aspects of case acceptance, declination and status to the client as follows:

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