Comments Sought in Bar Exam Proposal

The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (TBLE) is seeking to amend Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 by adopting the Uniform Bar Examination as the standard for applicants for licensing and admission in the state.

“Lawyers are more mobile than they once were,” TBLE President Jeffrey Ward said in a news release in October. “No longer do lawyers settle in one state and practice in that state until retirement. Multi-jurisdictional, or cross-border, practice is more common, particularly in Tennessee, where we border more states than any other state in the union.”

The court is soliciting written comments from judges, lawyers and others on the proposed changes. The deadline for submitting comments is Jan. 5, 2018. Comments should be submitted via email to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or mailed to James M. Hivner, Clerk, Re: Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219-1407.

To that end, the Tennessee Bar Association has launched an ad hoc committee to study the proposal. Comments or concerns may be sent to TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson at jstevenson@tnbar.org.

ETHICS

Joint Petition Filed by TBA, Board of Professional Responsibility 
The Tennessee Bar Association and the Board of Professional Responsibility filed an unusual joint petition Nov. 15, asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to adopt a new ethics rule prohibiting discrimination and harassment by lawyers in conduct related to the practice of law.

The petition seeks an amendment to Supreme Court Rule 8 to add a new subsection (g) to RPC 8.4 and explanatory comment paragraphs. The proposed amendment is patterned after a recently adopted ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), but the proposal adds language more clearly protecting the First Amendment rights of lawyers, among other things.

PRO BONO

Annual Report Shows Volume of Attorneys Doing Pro Bono 
Tennessee lawyers donated more than $118 million worth of free pro bono legal services to Tennesseans in 2015, according to an annual report issued by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. In total, 591,064 hours of service were performed by 8,122 attorneys through free legal clinics, phone help lines, direct representation or other activities.

That is nearly half of attorneys across the state who reported doing some pro bono work in 2015,  an average of 72.7 hours for each attorney. The report shows that the number of attorneys who reported pro bono and the number of hours of pro bono work performed both increased from the prior year. The report also describes the significant work being done by bar associations, law schools, legal aid organizations and faith-based communities across Tennessee to increase opportunities for pro bono service.

YLD Work in Expungement Clinic Recognized by House Speaker
The TBA Young Lawyers Division work in hosting expungement clinics across Tennessee has been recognized by an official proclamation from Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell. In particular, the proclamation praises the efforts of the YLD in sponsoring the Non-Conviction Expungement Clinic at Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church in Memphis.

“The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division exemplifies the spirit of community and leadership that is characteristic of true Tennesseans, and it should be specially recognized,” the proclamation reads in part.

RESEARCH

Fastcase 7 Brings Enhanced Research for TBA Members 
Tennessee Bar Association members can now (as of Dec. 1) access Fastcase 7, the all-new version of the online legal research tool.

TBA members now have unlimited usage, unlimited customer service and unlimited printing — all at no cost as part of the TBA Complete Membership package.

Fastcase 7 provides an even more fluid and easy-to-navigate online legal research library. It has all of the familiar features and tools, plus an enhanced Forecite, Tag Cloud, Authority Check and Bad Law Bot, more advanced search options, new results screen options, larger fonts and selections to make documents easier to read on computer screens, and new dual-column printing options.

Learn more at www.tba.org/fastcase.

COURTS

Spring Start Likely for Federal Courthouse in Nashville 
Groundbreaking on a new U.S. courthouse in Nashville is now set for next spring, the Nashville Post reports. The courthouse, to be named for the late U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, is expected to cost $194.5 million to build and will sit on a plot of land downtown on Church Street.

YOUR TBA

TBA to Launch New Adoption Law Section in 2018 
The Tennessee Bar Association will launch a new section next year devoted to the practice of Adoption Law. The move was requested by the Adoption Policy Working Group and was approved unanimously by the TBA Board of Governors during its fall meeting in Memphis.

In a letter requesting the creation, TBA Immediate Past President Jason Long and Chattanooga attorney Michael S. Jennings wrote that adoption law is a discrete area of practice and “there is a need for a dedicated section to assist with ongoing legislative efforts in this area and to educate members on a complex and highly structured area of the law.”

Pera Featured in Informative Videos
TBA President Lucian T. Pera offers his thoughts on the legal profession, the evolving legal market, the importance of bar work and more in a four-part series of web video interviews, available on YouTube.

Pera also discusses his goals for the TBA, as well as challenges and trends he sees emerging in the profession and the “once in a lifetime opportunity” the legal community has this year to ways to improve indigent representation.

In other segments he considers the role of the TBA, as well as his hopes that Tennessee lawyers will take up more local leadership positions in roles such as public office.

Southern Bar Leaders Gather in Memphis  
More than 200 bar leaders from across the South went to Memphis in October for the annual Southern Conference of Bar Presidents (SCBP), which was hosted this year by the Tennessee Bar Association.

Programming for the executive directors and volunteer bar leaders in 17 Southern states ranged from “Civil Rights in the 21st Century” to “Elvis and His Impact on the Law.”

YOUR HEALTH

Study: Lawyers Get No Mental Health Boost from Big Bucks  
The mental health boost that usually comes with higher incomes is not making its way to lawyers in the U.S. and Canada, a new study finds. The ABA Journal reports that the study shows higher-status lawyers in both countries have more symptoms of depression than peers in the public sector and are no better off in terms of health. The study found that the larger the firm and the more high-paying the job, the more likely a lawyer was to have depressive symptoms. Overwork and work-life conflict were cited as reasons.

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