Video Contest Deadline Approaches

The deadline for the TBA's Fourth Annual YouTube Video Contest for middle and high school students is just around the corner! This year's theme -- "There Ought to be a Law" -- challenges students to create a three-minute video that discusses an issue they would like to see addressed through the legislative process. The contest is open to individuals or groups from any Tennessee high school, middle school, home school or non-school based organization. Middle school entries are due by March 17. High school entries are due by March 24. The contest is a program of the Public Education Committee. This year, the YLD is assisting with marketing. Get details or download a flyer and share it with a teacher or a teenager! Cash prizes are available.

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YLD Promotes Civics at Teachers' Conference

The TBA YLD will host a table at the Tennessee Conference for Social Studies being held March 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg. YLD District 2 Representative Bryce McKenzie will be on hand to encourage elementary, high school and college instructors to include civics education in their lesson plans. The annual conference is sponsored by the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies. To join the effort, email McKenzie or call (865) 428-8780.

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Teams Getting Ready for State Mock Trial Competition

With district mock trial competitions wrapping up this coming weekend, the stage is close to being set for the Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition. The 2014 contest will take place March 14-15 at the Historic Davidson County Courthouse in downtown Nashville. Volunteers are still needed to assist with the event. Sitting judges in Tennessee may volunteer to serve as presiding judges of trial rounds, lawyers may serve as scorers and law students or legal staff may serve as bailiffs. Judges and bailiffs are especially needed! Those who want to volunteer should download the appropriate form and submit it to Mock Trial Chair Josh Dougan. To date, the following schools have advanced to the state competition:

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If You Did It, Flaunt It With a TBJ Announcement

The Tennessee Bar Journal has a new opportunity for lawyers and firms to promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards and any changes within the firm. Now, Professional Announcements are available at special, lower-rate pricing. You can tell more than 12,000 of your peers about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information or to place an announcement, contact Debbie Taylor at 503-445-2231 or To have an announcement placed in the April issue, please contact her before Feb. 18.

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Mock Trial Coach, Volunteers Needed for District Competitions

A high school in Coffee County is fielding its first mock trial team and is looking for an attorney to help them prepare for the district competition, which is set for Feb. 22 in Columbia. Please contact District 3 Mock Trial Coordinator Cara Lynn at (931) 388-8868 for more information or to volunteer. Attorneys also are needed to serve as scorers and presiding judges in the District 4 competition, which covers Cannon, Hickman, Lewis, Marshall, Perry, Rutherford and Williamson counties. That competition will take place on Feb. 22 in Franklin. Contact Shauna Billingsley at (615) 550-6603 to help get involved.

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TBA’s First Mentoring Class Kicks Off Today

The first class of the TBA Mentoring Program kicked off today. Those participating in the program will engage in a formal mentoring relationship for one year. Mentors and mentees will meet face-to-face at least once a month during the year and will cover a variety of curriculum topics. The program, which was launched in January, is open to TBA members in their first three years of practice. Mentors must have at least eight years of legal practice experience. TBA members interested in participating in the next class should visit the TBA’s mentoring website for more information and application materials. The site also includes links to other mentoring programs across the state for lawyers. Questions about the program should be directed to Mentoring Coordinator Christy Gibson, (615) 383-7421.

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YLD Affiliate News for January 2014

American Bar Association YLD -- The ABA YLD invites Tennessee young lawyers to apply for leadership appointments for the 2014-2015 bar year. According to the group, the skills, passion and perspective of young lawyers from across the country are essential to building a vibrant, inclusive and multicultural corps of volunteer leaders. Positions are available on committees, boards and teams. The application deadline is Feb. 15. Contact Andrew Schpak with any questions. Affiliate young lawyer groups in the state also are encouraged to apply for a grant to assist with member and public service projects. The deadline for that program is March 1. Finally, the ABA YLD has announced its Law Day Art Contest for students in grades 9-12. The 2014 contest theme is "American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters." The entry deadline is March 7. For general information about the ABA YLD visit the group online or contact Nashville lawyer Matt Potempa at (615) 810-8438.

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Save the Date for April Deposition CLE

Save the date for the YLD’s annual litigation CLE. This year’s program will focus on deposition techniques in general personal injury cases. Attendees will hear from experienced litigators -- both from the plaintiff and defense perspective -- who will discuss key components of the deposition process. Session topics include an Overview of State and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Preparing for a Deposition, Hypothetical Deposition Situations, and Using Exhibits, Dealing with Witnesses, Making Objections, Defending a Client and Dealing with Difficult Counsel during a deposition. Watch for more details coming soon.

April 10
Producer: Tommy Santel; Parkerson Santel; Murfreesboro

April 25
Producer: Brittany Thomas; Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison; Chattanooga

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State Mock Trial Volunteers Needed

The 2014 State High School Mock Trial Competition will take place March 14-15 at the Metro Courthouse in Nashville. This annual competition brings students together from across the state to test their advocacy skills. The competition requires a lot of volunteers to run smoothly! Sitting judges in Tennessee may volunteer to serve as presiding judges of trial rounds, lawyers may serve as scorers, and law students and legal staff may serve as bailiffs. Those who want to volunteer should download the appropriate form and submit it by email to Mock Trial Chair Josh Dougan or by fax to TBA staff member Stacey Shrader Joslin at (615) 297-8058. For more information about the competition contact Dougan at (731) 437-0469.

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Upcoming Wills for Heroes Clinics (as of 1/30/14)

Through the Wills for Heroes effort, attorneys and volunteers have served 404 first responders this bar year. With the YLD quickly closing in on its goal of serving 500 first responders this year -- which ends June 30 -- a new goal of reaching 600 first responders has been set. The greatest number of first responders ever reached was 455 during the 2009-2010 bar year. Everyone’s help is needed in reaching this new goal!

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Local Mock Trial Contests on Tap for February

Local mock trial competitions will take place throughout the month of February with the first one scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 1. To get involved in a local competition contact the appropriate coordinator listed below. Get additional contact information online.

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Summer 2014 Judicial Internship Deadline Extended

Applications for the 2014 Summer Judicial Internship Program -- which matches first- and second-year Tennessee law students with appellate and trial judges for six or 12-week internships -- are now due Monday, Feb. 10. The YLD Membership & Law School Outreach Committee decided to extend the deadline by one week to give interested students more time to apply. The extension will not affect other key deadlines of the program. Learn more and get application instructions online or contact TBA Young Lawyers Division Director Stacey Shrader Joslin at (615) 383-7421.

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DLI Class Holds First Session at Leadership Conference

The law student members of the 2014 Diversity Leadership Institute met for their first session this month as part of the TBA's Leadership Conference. The group joined legal leaders from across the state to learn about TBA President Cindy Wyrick’s key public service initiative for the year -- the Senior Law Handbook; youth courts in the state; legislation of interest to lawyers; and a new grassroots advocacy tool for communicating with lawmakers. Class members also held separate sessions that featured a keynote address by Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Richard Dinkins and remarks by Mattielyn Williams, co-chair of the TBA's Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

The group also learned about learning styles and engaged in a "speed networking" activity with lawyers representing a range of practice areas and settings. Participants included Terica Smith Anderson with the 26th Judicial District Attorney’s Office; Matt Cottingham with Petree Law; Ashonti Davis with Butler Snow; Brian Frye with Legal Aid of East Tennessee; Rachel Kingsbury Speller with Western Express; and Charles Traughber with Waller. The panel was moderated by Louise Biedenharn with the HF Law Group.

President Wyrick also spoke to the group while former TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth moderated the class caucus. The opening program was produced YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist and committee members Amber Floyd and Tiffany Johnson, all of Memphis.

Members of the 2014 Diversity Leadership Institute are (from left to right) Back Row: Brittany Williams, Ernie Gilkes, Elizabeth Goetz, Jessica Nwokocha, James Edwards and Jessie Oakes. Middle Row: Sara Garner, Alandis Brassel, Noah Mason, Rod Watson, Emily Harvey, Mary Gadd, Beverly Conner and Michael Kapellas. Front Row: Tamika Parker, I'Ashea Dihigo, LaTanyia Walker, Aurelia Patterson, Candace Carter and Katori Brown. Photo by Landry Butler

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YLD Recognizes CASA, Other Volunteers

YLD President David McDowell presented Star of the Quarter awards to five young lawyers during the TBA’s 2014 Leadership Conference this past weekend. Honored were Katrina Atchley Arbogast, Justin Faith, Steven King, Chaz Molder and Tommy Santel. Arbogast was recognized for her service as chair of the Children's Issues Committee and for overseeing the 10th Anniversary celebration of the YLD’s CASA Volunteer of the Year Award; Faith and Molder were recognized for their work on the YLD’s most recent issue of Tennessee Young Lawyer; and King and Santel were honored for planning the group’s Transactional CLE in Nashville and Memphis. See photos from the event.

In addition, Arbogast (below) presented the 2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year Award to Jack McNew of Harriman. McNew volunteers with CASA of the Ninth Judicial District, which serves children in Loudon, Morgan and Roane counties.

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YLD Honors Members at Leadership Event

During the TBA's 2014 Leadership Conference, the YLD Board met for its Winter Meeting.

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Legal Leaders Gather in Nashville for TBA Conference

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session.

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2014 Law Student Leadership Class Named

Law students selected for the TBA Diversity Leadership Institute's class of 2014 will begin programming Friday in Nashville in conjunction with the TBA Leadership Conference. The six-month leadership and mentoring program — chaired this year by Memphis attorney Ahsaki Baptist and Nashville lawyer Brian Winfrey — is sponsored by the TBA's Young Lawyers Division. This is the program's fourth year.

Class members are: Candace Carter and I'Ashea Dihigo from the Belmont College of Law; Beverly Conner, James Edwards, Brenda Gadd, Joy Ruth Gallagher, Ernie Gilkes, Elizabeth Goetz, Emily Harvey and Tamika Parker from the Nashville School of Law; Jesse Oakes from the Duncan School of Law; Sara Garner, Michael Kapellas, Aurelia Patterson, LaTanyia Walker, Rodrequez Watson and Brittany Williams from the University of Memphis School of Law; and Alandis Brassel, Katori Brown, Noah Mason and Jessica Nwokocha from Vanderbilt University Law School.

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Volunteers Needed for Juvenile Court Clinic

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) is organizing and staffing a pro bono legal advice clinic at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court on the second Thursday of each month. The next event will be Feb. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. The clinic focuses on helping families with child support issues and other matters that come before the Juvenile Court. The agency is seeking three to five lawyers to volunteer at the clinic. For those who do not have a background in juvenile law, the court has offered to hold training sessions. Email LAET to learn more or to help out.

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YLD Affiliate News for December 2013

American Bar Association YLD -- The ABA Midyear Meeting will be held at the Swissôtel in Chicago, Feb. 6-8, 2014. Registration is free. The group has announced the theme and deadlines for the 2014 Law Day Art Contest, which is open to students in grades 9-12. This year’s theme is “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.” The entry deadline is March 7, 2014. Finally, the ABA announced it is accepting applications and nominations for 2014-2015 presidential appointments to committees, commissions and other entities. The online application process will be available until Feb. 28. For general information about the ABA YLD visit the group online or contact Nashville lawyer Matt Potempa at or (615) 810-8438.

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Upcoming Wills for Heroes Clinics (as of 12/31/13)

The following Wills for Heroes events have been scheduled across the state in 2014. 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, please contact committee chair Bradley Carter at Learn more about the Wills for Heroes program.

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National Mock Trial Competition Volunteers Needed

The National High School Mock Trial Competition is looking for judges and attorneys who are interested in volunteering for the 2014 national championship taking place in Madison, Wis., May 8-10, 2014. Four rounds will be held during the weekend: one in the morning and one in the afternoon on both Friday and Saturday. Volunteers may judge as many rounds as they wish, but they are required to have judged a minimum of two rounds at a state mock trial competition. Volunteers also are needed to monitor courtrooms, staff registration and information desks, assist with volunteers meals, collect score sheets, provide directions for teams, or monitor events such as the pin exchange, judges’ reception, awards gala and dance. Learn more or sign up to volunteer.

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Volunteers Named Stars of the Quarter

At the YLD Fall Board Meeting in November, President David McDowell named several young lawyers as “Stars of the Quarter.” Those honored included:

  • Chattanooga lawyer Ellie Hill and Cookeville lawyer Philip Hatch – chair and vice chair of the Public Service Committee – for their work overseeing this year’s service project, which is aimed at educating librarians across the state about the free legal resources available for patrons who visit libraries to find legal assistance;
  • Murfreesboro lawyer and District 7 Representative Aimee Luna for visiting multiple libraries in her district and briefing several groups of lawyers about the free legal resources available for the public;
  • Lebanon lawyer Mike Kurtz and Memphis lawyers Joann Coston-Holloway and Tiffany Johnson for spearheading record-breaking Wills for Heroes clinics in their respective cities, and to Wills for Heroes Committee Chair and Clarksville lawyer Brad Carter for his work organizing the statewide project; and
  • Marshall County General Sessions Judge Lee Bowles for her work representing the TBA YLD in the ABA and ABA YLD, including authoring the division’s 2013 awards submission and presenting a session on bullying at the fall ABA YLD meeting.
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Offers Made to 2014 DLI Class Members

The YLD Diversity Committee met this month to review applications for the 2014 Diversity Leadership Institute, a six-month leadership and mentoring program for Tennessee law students. Now in its fourth year, the program is designed to develop skills to succeed as a law student and attorney; empower students to contribute more to the legal community; match students to mentors in a diverse variety of practice areas; and build relationships among students of diverse backgrounds. The committee selected a class of 23, representing each of Tennessee’s six law schools and offering a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Offers to join the class are now pending with the students.

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2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year Selected

The YLD has selected the 2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year from among the largest number of nominations ever received for the program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. At its winter board dinner in January, the YLD will present the award to Jack McNew of Harriman, a volunteer with CASA of the Ninth Judicial District. McNew has volunteered with the agency for five years and according to Executive Director Sandra Weaver, he has “been a mainstay of CASA…from its founding.” In her application nominating McNew, Weaver recounts how he served as part of a small group that undertook a strategic planning process to determine whether to form the agency and then worked to bring management guidelines to the counties being served. He also was one of the first volunteer advocates and the first chair of the board of directors. According to Weaver, McNew always can be counted on to step in when necessary, having served as interim treasurer and liaison to the county commission when others had to step aside. Finally, Weaver writes that McNew is a dynamic and persuasive speaker about the work CASA does, and that he routinely speaks to community groups and potential funding sources about the program.

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2014 Mock Trial Case Released Today

The problem and rules for the 2014 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition are now available. This year’s problem involves allegations that a hit song climbing the country charts violates the copyright of a song penned by struggling singer-songwriter Jessie Jameson. The infringement suit claims that the hit song is substantially similar to Jameson’s and that the author had access to the work. The defense argues that similarities between the songs are merely scenes à faire – common themes, language and expressions that appear frequently in country songs – and that the defendant did not have access to the work. Witnesses such as Dr. Doe Raymie and Jordan “Catnip” Evergreen, and two songs written and recorded just for the competition, make this year’s case entertaining as well as educational.

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