Corporate Counsel Event Recognizes Pro Bono Efforts

Access to Justice

The Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala returns for its fourth year on Saturday, March 27, at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. Sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee, in conjunction with the TBA Corporate Counsel Section and the Association of Corporate Counsel, the event recognizes outstanding pro bono contributions by law firms and corporate legal departments, and raises money to support access to justice across Tennessee.

Two Free Hours of CLE Programming on March 27

In addition to the Gala on Saturday evening, guests are also invited to attend a free CLE program on Saturday afternoon from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The program's two sessions will focus on:

  1. The Medicare Secondary Payment Act. It is essential that all parties to personal injury insurance settlements ensure that Medicare's interests are protected. As such, attorneys need to understand   fully   how and when the act applies in any given personal injury situation. This panel discussion session will include Heidi R. Hoffecker and Sherie L. Edwards.
  2. Updates on the amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, Evidence and Appellate Procedure that will go into effect on July 1. The session will be led by James M. Doran Jr.

Sponsors

Early sponsors of the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala, as of press time, are:
Executive Committee Sponsors $10,000: International Paper Company
Board of Directors Sponsors $5,000: BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust
Shareholder Sponsors $3,000: Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Eastman Chemical Company, State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company, Counsel on Call, FedEx Corporation, Miller & Martin PLLC

Learn more at www.tba.org/TLCF/probono_initiative/

Briefs

ABA launches Haiti resource
The ABA has assembled a collection of legal resources relevant to the Haiti earthquake for use by lawyers, bar associations and organizations helping those in need. The site provides information on the immigration status of Haitian nationals now in the U.S., the status of children identified as orphans, and new tax provisions affecting charitable donations. Links also are provided for lawyers, judges and court administrators who are interested in joining an anticipated legal reform project in the country. Visit the site at www.abanet.org/disaster/haiti.html

Video highlights Memphis law school gala
If you missed the gala grand opening of the new University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in January, you can hear interviews with some of the participants and see scenes from the event in a report from University of Memphis student Sarah Bleau on YouTube. Find the link at www.tba.org/journal_links

ABA diversity report says a new direction is needed
Approaches to diversity in the legal profession must take an inclusive approach rather than address individual affinity groups by race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability, according to an American Bar Association report issued last month. Based on testimony gathered in regional hearings, surveys, round-table discussions and a national summit convened by Immediate Past President H. Thomas Wells Jr. of Birmingham, Ala., the report identifies trends and emerging issues, cites disappointments and points to new directions. The report's recommendations are directed at law schools and academia, law firms and corporate law departments, government and the judiciary and bar associations.

Read the report at http://new.abanet.org/centers/diversity/Pages

'Consensus' on religious expression and U.S. law published
A consenus statement aimed at advancing public understanding of legal issues in religious expression was released last month by a group of people who don't usually agree. Led by Wake Forest University Divinity School's Center for Religion and Public Affairs, the document does not advocate a particular direction for future legislation and case law in regard to religious expression. Instead, it outlines what experts in church-state relations agree that the law currently says in an effort to stave off needlessly divisive debates and lawsuits. "While this diverse group often disagrees about how the law should address legal issues, the drafters agree in many cases on what the law is today," said Melissa Rogers, director of the Wake Forest center. Find out more, and download a copy of the publication, through www.tba.org/journal_links

State issues guide for nonprofit leaders
The Tennessee Attorney General's Office, the Department of State and the Center for Nonprofit Management have issued a guidebook to help leaders of nonprofit organizations. The book, What Every Board Member and Officer Should Know, is designed to help volunteer leaders avoid conflicts of interest, protect assets, document financial transactions and avoid personal liability.

Download the guide at http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/nonprofit/nonprofitguidebook.pdf

Government site adds new info
In January, about a year after President Obama promised to have a more "transparent" government, large amounts of government data from all Cabinet-level departments was to be posted to the Internet at the government's Web site, www.data.gov. For example, the Transportation Department planned to post ratings for 2,400 lines of tires for consumer safety based on tire tread wear, traction performance and temperature resistance, and the Labor Department released the names of 80,000 workplaces where injuries and illness have occurred over the past 10 years.

Public opinion and the court: Former Vandy law professor explains
In his new book, legal scholar and former Vanderbilt law professor Barry Friedman sets out to show that the Supreme Court has never been insulated from popular sentiment. In fact, he argues that the long-term effect of the court's rulings is always determined by the public's reaction. "One of the most valuable things that occurs in response to a Supreme Court decision," he writes in The Will of the People: How Public Opinion has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution, "is backlash."

New site offers federal appeals court opinions
A new American Bar Association (ABA) Web site provides summaries of "newsworthy and legally significant" opinions from three of the nation's 12 circuit courts of appeal. The site, maintained by the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements, currently covers the Third, Fifth and Ninth circuits. If the effort is successful, it will be expanded to include the other circuits. The service is available to all interested individuals. ABA membership is not required. Sign up for free case alerts at http://new.abanet.org/SCFJI/Pages/MediaAlertsOnFederalCircuitCourts.aspx
      
Legal sector layoffs slow in January, partners more confident
The legal sector lost another 1,100 jobs in January " a noticeable drop-off from previous months " as the overall unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent. Although layoffs seem to have slowed down, one contributing factor could be that many deferred first-year associates reported to their firms for work in January, thereby offsetting layoffs elsewhere, reports American Lawyer.

Also, a "confidence index" developed by Citi Private Bank Law Watch shows that managing partners are becoming more confident about the economic outlook for their law firms " in fact they haven't been this confident since 2007. About 64 percent of the managers surveyed expected demand for legal services to grow in the next 12 months, ABAJournal.com reported.

Connect to both stories at www.tba.org/journal_links

Facebook is leader for providing online divorce evidence
In a new survey of divorce lawyers, 81 percent say they have seen an increase in the use of social networking evidence during the past five years. The survey, conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), pinpoints Facebook as the "unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence" with 66 percent citing it as a primary source. "If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises," Nashville lawyer and AAML President Marlene Eskind Moses said, "an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence." ABAJournal.com gives you the story at www.tba.org/journal_links