Court to Honor Pro Bono Hours, Encourages Faith-Based Work

‘Attorneys for Justice’ Designation

The Tennessee Supreme Court launched in February a volunteer recognition program to honor lawyers who provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service annually. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting. Attorneys are encouraged to begin tracking their work this year. Those who meet the goal will be named “Attorneys for Justice” by the court and will be honored at regional events across the state.

Those meeting the criteria also will receive a certificate signed by the justices, be listed in an honor roll published by the court, and be authorized to use a seal of their accomplishment on websites and marketing materials. The program was recommended by the court’s Access to Justice Commission.

Put Your Faith in Action
The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has formed a faith-based initiative to encourage lawyers to provide pro bono services within their places of worship, and to support faith-based groups that commit to provide legal resources to their congregations and communities. The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA) is designed to connect with people in need in a place they already go to seek help with a problem.

“Faith communities are a natural fit with our efforts to help those in need find access to legal advice,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark. “And with our goal of helping more lawyers find more occasions to provide pro bono services, this is the ideal opportunity for attorneys to put faith in action in their own worship communities.”

For more information contact Palmer Williams at (615) 741-2687 ext. 1414 or palmer.williams@ tncourts.gov.

Court to Require Electronic Filing of Indigent Compensation Claims
In other news, the state Supreme Court issued an order, effective July 1, that requires electronic submission of all compensation claims for counsel of indigent defendants. The order, Rule 13A, makes amendments to Supreme Court Rules 13, 15 and 42, concerning indigent counsel, mental health proceedings and standards for court interpreters.

Briefs

Memphis Law Names New Dean
Peter Letsou has been named dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis, and will begin work June 1. Letsou, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is currently dean of the Williamette University College of Law in Salem, Ore. He previously served as associate counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and Nicaraguan Opposition and as an associate with two private firms in New York.

DLI Class Holds First Session, Hears from Diverse Lawyers
The law student members of the 2013 Diversity Leadership Institute met for their first session in January as part of the TBA Leadership Conference. The group joined legal leaders from across the state to learn about legislative issues impacting lawyers, opportunities to get involved in programs educating the public about the legal system, and dealing with conflict. Class members also held separate sessions that featured a keynote address by Gregg Ramos with North, Pursell & Ramos in Nashville and a panel discussion with Laura Bishop Baker, Law Offices of John Day; Marshall County General Sessions Judge Lee Bussart Bowles; Ashonti Davis, Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada; Brian Frye, Legal Aid of East Tennessee; Matt Potempa, Law Office of Matt Potempa; and William Stover, Law Office of William Stover. TBA President-Elect Cindy Wyrick with the Sevierville law firm of Ogle, Gass & Richardson, and former YLD president Tasha Blakney with the Knoxville law firm of Eldridge, Blakney & Trant, also addressed the group. The weekend's program was produced by YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist, an attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Memphis

Books, Dogs, Teddy Bears to the Rescue
Several areas of the state have been made a little bit friendlier for children who are in stressful law-related situations. The Hamilton County Juvenile Court will launch a children’s library in the lobby of the courthouse for the dozens of young children who must spend time there. The creation of the library is a joint volunteer effort of Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey, the Chattanooga Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division, Green Form Construction, CASA and others.

And in Franklin, police have a new weapon at their service thanks to a donation from young lawyers in TBA YLD District 11. The group, led by Franklin attorney Shauna Billingsley, recently presented police a box of teddy bears that can be used to help comfort children when officers are called to car crashes or family fights that can be frightening to the children,. Also in Franklin, Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Guffee invites dogs from the county’s shelter to comfort children once a week at the courthouse while the adults deal with cases involving foster care, abuse and neglect.

Court Clarifies Pro Hac Vice Admission
The Tennessee Supreme Court revised last month the rule for out-of-state lawyers appearing before administrative law judges. The new rule — first proposed jointly by the Board of Professional Responsibility and the Judges of the Administrative Procedures Division in July — requires lawyers residing and licensed in states other than Tennessee, who appear as counsel of record before an administrative law judge, or state entity authorized to resolve controversy, to be admitted pro hac vice. Today’s court order replaces the current Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 19 in its entirety. The Tennessee Bar Association filed the sole comment, which stated it “strongly supports” the adoption of the modified revision.

Legislators, TBA Leaders Gather at Big Shrimp Event
More than100 Tennessee lawmakers and their staffers came together with members of the Tennessee Bar Association during the annual Big Shrimp legislative reception Feb. 12 at the Tennessee Bar Center. The TBA's Leadership Law class also attended the event, after spending a day learning about issues in policy and politics. The class heard from a panel of lawyer legislators, a group of lawyer lobbyists and an expert on judicial selection. In addition, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper addressed the group, and class members attended a session of the Senate's Judiciary Committee.

Civil Rights Leaders Meet in Nashville
Leaders of the renowned Nashville Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s recalled their work and the lessons learned during a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hosted on Jan. 17 in Nashville by the Waller law firm. Speaking before a packed house of several hundred in downtown Nashville, journalist and civil rights activist John Seigenthaler helped bring out the stories from Diane Nash, as well as Ernest Rip Patton Jr. and the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., who were all key figures in the non-violent movement that led to the opening of Nashville’s lunch counters to African Americans. The three were also later involved in the Freedom Rides throughout the South. Also at the event, Waller Chair John C. Tishler presented the 2012 Diversity Scholarship to University of Tennessee College of Law student Natalie Greene.