News

Solo in a Box Spotlight: Finance and Budgeting

With more Tennessee attorneys – especially new lawyers – deciding to “hang out” their own shingle and begin a solo or small firm practice, the TBA has developed the Solo in a Box Toolkit. Each issue of E-DICT this year will spotlight one of the toolkit’s 12 sections. This month we look at finance and budgeting issues.

In the Law Office Finance and Budgeting section, the Solo in a Box Toolkit addresses four major issues: establishing a monthly cash flow plan, billing for services, accepting credit cards, and navigating the ethical issues associated with trust accounts.

Establishing a Monthly Cash Flow Plan – A solo practice can be “feast or famine” so lawyers working this setting must be diligent to prepare for slow months. A monthly cash flow plan can be helpful in showing projected revenues and expected expenses for each month of the year. The plan should be reviewed and updated at least once a month so steps can be taken to ensure there is enough revenue to cover expenses. Solo practioners also are encouraged to create a “rainy day” fund sufficient to cover one month’s expenses; put aside funds monthly for large expenses, such as malpractice insurance, that need to be paid in a lump sum; and put aside funds monthly to cover quarterly tax payments.

Billing for Services – There are various methods that can be used to determine fees, with hourly billing, flat fees and contingency fees being the most common. While certain fee arrangements lend themselves to certain areas of the law, and some cannot be used with regard to certain matters, there is one overriding concept set forth in the Rules of Professional Conduct: a lawyer may not make an agreement for, charge or collect an unreasonable fee. The rule outlines 10 factors that should be consider in determining the reasonableness of a fee. The toolkit summarizes these factors and provides guidance on three fee-related issues that should always be addressed in a retainer agreement: scope of representation, whether the fee is refundable and how expenses will be handled. The toolkit provides an example of how to structure a fee agreement for each of the most commonly used methods identified above and includes tips for keeping track of time spent on a case.

Accepting Credit Cards – There are numerous products on the market that allow small businesses to accept credit card payments. Lawyers should be sure to consider equipment costs, fees and long-term contracts, but more importantly, should assess whether the service has a mechanism for dealing with earned and unearned payments to ensure client funds held in reserve are treated properly. TBA members get special discounts with LAWPAY, which offers a processing program specifically for lawyers that does not require equipment, does not charge an annual fee and protects client funds.

Ethical Issues – One of the quickest ways to commit an ethical violation is to improperly maintain a trust account. Client funds held in an IOLTA account are subject to additional rules and limitations. Under no circumstances should lawyers deposit money that belongs to a client into a personal or operating account. The Board of Professional Responsibility has issued a step-by-step guide to proper trust accounting. The toolkit links to the document and provides its own recommendations for handling receipts, making disbursements and reconciling accounts. With regard to other financial and accounting matters, lawyers should be vigilant to keep receipts for any expenses claimed on tax returns as attorneys are audited at a higher than average rate. The toolkit also provides guidance on dealing with clients that do not pay their bills.

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Up Next: Human Resources Help

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YLD Releases 2015 Mock Trial Case

The TBA YLD Mock Trial Committee released the problem and rules for the 2015 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition last night. The list of district coordinators also was released. This year’s problem involves charges of vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment against the driver of a car, who may have been texting when a motorcycle rider is hit and killed. The case comes down to discrepancies in eyewitness reports, physical evidence at the scene and the vehicle’s event data recorder. Also, this year for the first time, TBA is using Twitter to communicate case and competition news to students, teachers, team coaches and others interested in staying informed. Feel free to follow the mock trial Twitter account @tnmocktrial or sign up to receive updates by email.

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Affiliate News for November 2014

American Bar Association YLD – The group’s next meeting is the 2015 Midyear Meeting Feb. 5-8 in Houston. Those interested in running for an elected position have until Feb. 7 to provide written notice to the current secretary, assembly speaker and staff director. There is no special form. The candidate’s statement should identify name, address and telephone number and state, “Please accept this letter as my written notice of candidacy for [position sought].” Visit the group online or contact Nashville lawyer Matt Potempa, (615) 810-8438 for more information.

Blount County Bar Association YLD – For more information about the group contact President Nick Black, (865) 238-0665.

Chattanooga Bar Association YLD – The CBA YLD held a fundraiser for its local CASA agency on Oct. 23 at Clyde’s On Main. Funds raised will be used to purchase track phones for CASA volunteers to use while working. “Volunteers sometimes have trouble getting in touch with parents and children because they’ll call from an unknown number,” YLD President Ellie Hill said. “If we give them a track phone to use, they’ll be able to provide the parents or children with a phone number they’ll recognize.” Also during the event – which was covered by the Hamilton County Herald – YLD volunteers brought dozens of books to restock the children’s library and play area at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. For more information about the CBA YLD contact Ellie Hill, (423) 266-7327 or follow the group on Facebook.

Jackson Madison County Bar Association YLD – For more information about the group contact President Kortney Simmons at (731) 660-8810 or follow news on the group's Facebook page.

Knoxville Bar Association Barristers – The Barristers will hold its Annual Meeting & Elections Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Bistro by the Bijou. During the event, which also will serve as the group’s holiday party, Taylor A. Williams with Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers will take over as president and members will vote on a new vice president, secretary/treasurer and two at-large members of the board. Those running are:

Vice President:          Rachel P. Hurt, Arnett, Draper & Hagood


Secretary/Treasurer: Samantha Parris, Burroughs, Collins & Newcomb


Members at Large:    William Bennett, Sheppeard & Mynatt
                                  Ben Cunningham, Kennerly Montgomery & Finley
                                  Kati Goodner, Paine, Tarwater & Bickers

The group also reports that its canned food drive was a huge success with more than $25,000 worth of food donated – a record amount that exceeded this year’s goal. Baker Donelson won the most pounds donated; Wagner, Myers & Sanger won most pounds per attorney donated; and Kramer Rayson took the prize in the bonus pounds competition.

Check out the Barristers online or on Facebook, or contact President Jay Moneyhun, (865) 546-0500 for more information.

Maury County Bar Association YLD – The group is holding monthly social gatherings to share libations and good conversation, according to President Travis Jones. For more information contact Jones, (931) 797-2344.

Memphis Bar Association YLD – The group held its Annual Meeting Nov. 13 at Central BBQ’s downtown location. During the event, Nicole Grida took office as president and other officers were elected. For more information about the MBA YLD contact Grida or visit the group's Facebook page.

Montgomery County Bar Association YLD – For information about the Montgomery County YLD contact President Justin Sensing, (931) 552-5670.

Nashville Bar Association YLD – The NBA YLD held its Annual Meeting on Oct. 30 at Buffalo Billiards. During the event, Ryan Levy with Waddey & Patterson took office as president and the following officers were elected:

President Elect Justin McNaughton, Stites & Harbison
Secretary Lauren Roberts, Stites & Harbison
Treasurer Jeff Gibson, Neal & Harwell
Events Director Will Hicky, Attorney at Law
Membership Director Matt Kroplin, Stites & Harbison
Professional Development Director Rachel Rosenblatt, Littler Mendelson
Public Service Director Tera Rica Murdock, Waller

The group will hold the final Casa Azafran Legal Clinic of the year on Dec. 19. Contact Peter Malanchuk, (615) 340-3819 for details. For more information about the group contact Levy, (615) 242-2400 or follow the group on Facebook.

Northeast Tennessee Young Lawyers Association – Want to get more involved? NETYLA in the process of revamping and revitalizing and currently has openings on its board for representatives from Washington, Johnson, Carter, Unicoi, Hamblen, Hawkins and Hancock counties. Those interested in filling one of the open seats should contact President Holly Mancl, (423) 793-4800. Follow news from the group on Facebook.

Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association – The swearing-in ceremony for those passing the July bar exam was held Nov. 13 at the Putnam County Justice Center. This coming month, the group will hold a Christmas party directly following the larger Putnam County Bar party, which is set for Dec. 5. The YLD party will take place at the home of Vice President Kelsy Miller. The group’s next legal clinic will be held Jan. 15, 2015, at the Cookeville Legal Aid Society. The general civil clinic will begin at 4:30 p.m. For more information about the group contact President Tessa Lawson, (931) 372-1972. Follow news from the group on Facebook.

Williamson County Bar Association YLD –  For information about the group contact President Katie Zipper, (615) 320-0600. Follow news from the group on Facebook.

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Professional Development Series Coming in February

You know the law but don’t let the business of law slow you down as you build your reputation and client base. The Business of Lawyering: Professional Development for Today’s Attorney is a three-hour ethics seminar that focuses on the practical aspects of lawyering. Topics include managing yourself and support staff, using case managements systems, engaging clients, ending the client relationship ethically and using social media to advertise.

All times are local:
Registration: 8:30 – 9 a.m.
Program: 9 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Nashville: Feb. 6
Tennessee Bar Center

Knoxville: Feb. 13 REVISED DATE
University of Tennessee Conference Center

Memphis: Feb. 20 REVISED DATE
Location TBD

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Sneak in Some Last Minute CLE in December

Need a few CLE hours fast? The TBA is offering a range of programs during the month of December.

A one-day CLE Blast in Johnson City kicks off the month on Dec. 1.

Then the annual Ethics Roadshow launches its 2014 tour with stops in Memphis and Jackson on Dec. 3, Nashville on Dec. 4, Cookeville on Dec. 10, Knoxville and Johnson City on Dec. 11 and Chattanooga on Dec. 12. This year’s program focuses on 50 ways lawyers lose their practice due to ethical violations. Find links to each program here

Finally, at the end of the month, TBA will offer its annual CLE Blast at the Bar Center in Nashville. Programs will begin at 7 a.m. each day on Dec. 22, Dec. 29, Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. Attendees may take as many or as few hours as needed. Register online at the links above.

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TBA Considering 5 New Sections

If you practice or are interested in International Law, Communications Law, Local Government Law, Animal Law or LGBT issues, the Tennessee Bar Association would like to hear from you. The TBA’s Membership Committee is considering the creation of new sections for each of these five areas, but first needs to gauge member interest in these practice areas. Learn more about the potential sections on the TBA.org website and contact Membership Director Kelly Stosik if you are interested in joining or helping to form one or more of these sections.

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CASA Volunteer Award Nominations Due Dec. 8

The YLD Children’s Issues Committee is accepting nominations from Tennessee CASA agencies for the 2015 CASA Volunteer of the Year Award. The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 8. Please encourage your local CASA directors to nominate a hard-working volunteer for this statewide recognition! The winner, as well as the executive director of the agency where the volunteer works, will be recognized at the YLD Winter Board Meeting in Nashville in January. Contact chair Katrina Atchley Arbogast for more information. Get application materials and see past winners on the award website.

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Deadline Approaching for Law Student Leadership Program

Tennessee law students interested in applying for the 2015 Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) have until Dec. 1 to get their applications in. Now in its fifth year, the program offers a six-month leadership experience for second, third and fourth-year students. The goal of the program is to have a diverse class, so selection is based in part on race, ethnicity, gender, age, background, geographical factors and law schools attended. Student participants must be TBA members and commit to attend three in-person meetings. For more information contact YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist, (901) 537-1123.

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Deadline Extended for 2014 Diversity Survey

The deadline for the YLD’s 2014 Diversity Survey has been extended! Please take a minute to respond so division leadership can better understand the composition of the group and ways to strengthen diversity among the membership. Participation is voluntary and responses are anonymous. The survey will be available throughout the month of December. If you have technical questions about the survey contact TBA staff member Stacey Shrader Joslin, (615) 383-7421. If you have questions about the purpose or use of the survey, contact Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist, (901) 537-1123.

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2015 Mock Trial Case Released

The TBA YLD Mock Trial Committee released the problem and rules for the 2015 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition this week. The list of district coordinators also was released.

This year’s problem involves charges of vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment against the driver of a car, who may have been texting when a motorcycle rider is hit and killed. The case comes down to discrepancies in eyewitness reports, physical evidence at the scene and the vehicle’s event data recorder. Throw in a few teenagers, a disgruntled former Air Force pilot and a quirky town drunk and you have all the components to make this year’s competition a fun and educational experience.

Also, this year for the first time, TBA is using Twitter to communicate case and competition news to students, teachers, team coaches and others interested in staying informed. Feel free to follow the mock trial Twitter account @tnmocktrial. If you want to post about this year’s case or competition feel free to use #tnmock15. Those interested in receiving updates by email may sign up here.

Special thanks to Mock Trial Committee Chair Josh Dougan and Vice Chair Kristen Corn, Mock Trial Long Range Committee Chair Candi Henry, and committee members Christian Barker, Colby Block, Robert Bratcher, Nicole Grida, Holland Matthews, Rob Sands and Troy Weston for another great case!

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Survey: Discontent Among Court-Appointed Attorneys

A recent TBA survey of private attorneys who handle court appointed work shows they feel undervalued, overworked and unfairly compensated. More than half of those who took the survey reported that they frequently hit the fee cap on appointed cases, while 77 percent reported that they do not bother submiting a fee claim given the issues associated with getting paid. Survey responses also indicated an overwhelming number of cases are not adult criminal cases, but dependency, neglect and abuse work, generally as a guardian ad litem or a parent's attorney. More than half of respondents left lengthy comments on their experience with court appointed work, with many reporting that they love doing the work but cannot continue doing so at the current compensation rates, likening the work to doing pro bono. Respondents also reported that the filing requirements frequently add stress to an already difficult-to-handle clientele. With a compensation rate that has not changed since 1994, Tennessee court-appointed attorneys are among the lowest paid in the nation. Read more from the survey results.

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TBA CLE Leads Bar World in Gamification

The Tennessee Bar Association is "the most vivid example in the bar world" of effective use of the game format for online CLE programs, Dan Kittay writes in the latest issue of the ABA’s Bar Leader magazine. The TBA has spent five years researching different approaches to gamification, and also which software is best for creating interactive games, TBA CLE director Mindy Thomas Fulks told the magazine. Advocates of gamification say that it offers an alternate approach that is proving successful. Fulks credits TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur with striving to keep the bar “trendsetting.”

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Photos Available from TBA Open House

The Tennessee Supreme Court welcomed several hundred new attorneys to the practice of law during ceremonies across the state this week. On Tuesday, the Tennessee Bar Association hosted an open house for new attorneys and their families. Photos from the event are now available.

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Ceremonies in Nashville Welcome New Attorneys

The Tennessee Supreme Court welcomed several hundred new attorneys to the practice of law during two ceremonies today at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. Similar ceremonies have been or will be held in Knoxville, Memphis and Jackson. During the break between the two Nashville ceremonies, many new attorneys and their families attended an open house at the Tennessee Bar Center. Watch TBA.org for photos from that event.

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Affiliate News for October 2014

American Bar Association YLD – This year’s ABA YLD Chair Andrew Schpak unveiled the group’s service project for the year at the fall meeting this month in Portland. “Project Street Youth: Young Lawyers Advocating for Homeless Youth” will focus on educating the public about the issue of homeless youth, promoting model state laws that address the needs of homeless youth, and holding legal clinics to help homeless youth with credit and consumer issues, public benefits and minor criminal matters.

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Solo in a Box Spotlight: Understanding Insurance Needs

With more Tennessee attorneys – especially new lawyers – deciding to “hang out” their own shingle and begin a solo or small firm practice, the TBA has developed the Solo in a Box Toolkit. Each issue of E-DICT this year will spotlight one of the toolkit’s 12 sections. This month we look at the kinds of insurance lawyers should consider.

In the “Understanding Insurance Needs” section, the Solo in a Box Toolkit looks at the kinds of insurance products lawyers should consider. First, it addresses the importance of malpractice insurance. When starting a solo practice, lawyers want to minimize overhead expenses, but professional liability insurance should be considered a necessary expense. Lawyers should consider two types of malpractice coverage: “claims-made and reported” and extended reporting (“tail”).

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Express Yourself: Take 5 Minutes to Complete Diversity Survey

The YLD is conducting its bi-annual diversity survey this November to better understand the composition of the division membership and provide guidance on how to strengthen diversity in the group. We value your time and promise that the survey will take less than five minutes to complete. Participation is voluntary and responses are anonymous. The 2014 survey will be available until Nov. 21 at midnight. If you have technical questions about the survey please contact TBA staff member Stacey Shrader Joslin, (615) 383-7421. If you have questions about the purpose or use of the survey, please contact Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist, (901) 537-1123.

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Upcoming Wills for Heroes Clinics (as of 10/29/14)

The YLD will again this year provide free wills and other end of life documents for first responders in Tennessee. The following clinics have been scheduled for the fall. Please contact the event organizer for more details or to volunteer. To get involved in the Wills for Heroes Committee or to request a clinic in your area, contact committee chair Joann Coston-Holloway. Learn more about the Wills for Heroes program.

Cookeville, Nov. 1
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Jason Hicks, jasonfhicks@gmail.com, (931) 526-3311
Location: First United Methodist Church Christian Life Center, 165 East Broad St., Cookeville, TN 38501

Gallatin, Nov. 8
Contact: Cherrelle Hooper, chooper@las.org, (615) 451-1880 ext. 4
Location: Gallatin Civic Center, 210 Albert Gallatin Ave., Gallatin, TN 37066

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Young Lawyers Honored for Work This Fall

The YLD Board met for its Fall Meeting in September and recognized the efforts of two volunteers. YLD President-Elect Rachel Ralston Mancl was honored for her willingness to go the extra mile this year by serving as vice president and president-elect, chairing the Long Range Planning Committee and spearheading an effort to update the division’s bylaws with regard to succession planning. Mancl is an attorney with Hunter Smith & Davis in Kingsport.

Memphis lawyer Nicole M. Grida also was honored for providing exceptional leadership as chair of the CLE Committee.

She is an attorney for Zurich North America working at the Law Offices of Lauren Holloway.

Grida is pictured here (left) with YLD President Rachel Moses.

Mancl was not in attendance due to the birth of her first child.

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Updated Disaster Manual Now Available

The YLD Disaster Relief Committee recently updated the group’s award-winning Disaster Assistance Manual, which provides information for lawyers who volunteer to help disaster victims.

The manual guides attorneys through common issues that arise following a disaster, including replacing lost documents, dealing with landlord tenant issues, working with insurance companies and regaining access to federal and state benefits after being displaced.

The manual also includes a directory of all court clerk, county clerk, register of deed, health department, human service, Social Security, immigration and legal aid offices in the state. Learn more here.

Special thanks goes to this year's Disaster Committee Chair Caitlyn Elam with Lewis Thomason in Knoxville and committee members Matt Potempa with Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard and Mary Beth Haltom with Lewis Thomason, both in Nashville.

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Library Education Project Takes 2nd Award

The 2013-2014 YLD public service initiative, undertaken last year under the leadership of then president David McDowell, has won another award. The Library Education Project, which was designed to train librarians across the state about the free legal resources available to the public, was named the top public relations effort by a bar association by the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE). The organization’s Communications Section presented the award to TBA staff at its annual conference in Indianapolis this month.

By the end of the program, at least one librarian had been trained in each of Tennessee's 95 counties!

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TBA Looking for a Few Good Mentors

The TBA Mentoring Program is still accepting applications for mentors to join the program for upcoming classes. Volunteers are particularly needed in the Gatlinburg and Sevierville areas.

Mentors must be TBA members, should have at least eight years of legal practice experience, must carry professional liability insurance, may not have had a formal BPR investigation pending or disciplinary action imposed in the last 10 years, and may not have ever been disbarred. In addition, mentors and their mentees may not work for the same employer.

Contact TBA staff member Christy Gibson, (615) 383-7421 at the TBA for more information.

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Mock Trial Committee Gets Ready to Release 2015 Case

The YLD Mock Trial Committee is working hard to get this year’s case ready for release in mid November. The 2015 mock trial problem will be criminal in nature and feature all of the twists and turns expected from the mock trial experience. District coordinators also will be announced when the case is released. Teams seeking to get a head start on preparing should consider watching footage of past championship rounds. The TBA has DVDs of previous championship rounds for sale. Order from our online store or download an order form here. Check the YLD's mock trial webpage for updated information next month.

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Law School Programs, Liaisons Announced

The TBA YLD this week announced the application process and deadlines for two programs offered to Tennessee law students. Watch for information about both programs to be distributed on law school campuses next week.

Diversity Leadership Institute – The 2015 Diversity Leadership Institute is a six-month leadership program for Tennessee law students in their second, third or fourth years of study. The goal of the program is to have a diverse class, so selection is based in part on race, ethnicity, gender, age, background, geographical factors and law schools attended. Student participants must be TBA members and commit to attend three in-person meetings. Applications are due by Dec. 1. For more information contact YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist, (901) 537-1123.

Judicial Internship Program – The YLD also this week rolled out application materials for the 2015 Summer Judicial Internship Program, which matches first and second year law students with Tennessee appellate and trial judges for six or 12-week internships. Applications must be received by Feb. 2, 2015. The program is administered by the Membership & Law School Outreach Committee. For more information contact committee chair Nathan Shelby, (731) 425-7949.

Law Student LiaisonsLaw student liaisons have now been named for the 2014-2015 academic year at each of the state’s six law schools:

  • Belmont University College of Law – Andrew Wood
  • Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law – Sarah Booher & Molly Hardin
  • Nashville School of Law Cooper Term – Carlos Lara & Bridgit Barnes
  • Nashville School of Law Henry Term – J.T. “Trey” Hannah & Daniel Newbern
  • University of Memphis School of Law – Jentri Nelson
  • University of Tennessee College of Law – Brady Cody
  • Vanderbilt University Law School – Laura Feezor

Thanks to these students for volunteering to serve!

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537 New Lawyers to Join the Profession

Results from the July Tennessee bar exam were released earlier this month with 537 applicants successfully passing the exam. Congratulations to all! The legal profession will welcome these colleagues to the practice of law next week at admission ceremonies across the state.

On Monday, new lawyers in Knoxville will appear before the state Supreme Court during a ceremony at the City County Building at 10 a.m. The court will then travel to Nashville for two sessions – one at 10 a.m. and one at 1:30 p.m. – Tuesday at the War Memorial Auditorium. Between the sessions, new lawyers and their families are invited to attend an open house and luncheon at the Tennessee Bar Association from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. On Wednesday, the court will be in Jackson to swear in new lawyers at the Supreme Court Building beginning at 9:30 a.m. Finally, on Thursday, the court will travel to Memphis to swear in new lawyers at a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Memphis City Council Chambers. TBA YLD representatives will be at each ceremony to welcome these new lawyers to the profession and offer information about association membership.

For details about the open house in Nashville contact TBA Membership Director Kelly Stosik. Watch the video TBA created to announce the bar passage list.

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