Lawyers Reporting More Pro Bono Hours

Do Your Part

More than 46 percent of Tennessee attorneys reported performing pro bono legal work in Tennessee, an increase of 6 percent from last year, according to recent data from the Board of Professional Responsibility.

This is the highest percentage of pro bono reporting since attorneys began to report voluntarily in 2009 and more than twice the level of reporting during the initial year. So far, about 3,860 lawyers with Tennessee law licenses residing in Tennessee reported 329,285 hours of pro bono work.

The law license renewal form includes a section where lawyers can voluntarily report their pro bono work done in the previous calendar year.

Increasing pro bono participation is a priority of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission’s 2012 Strategic Plan. “The commission’s goal is to ensure all Tennesseans have access to justice by knowing their rights, having access to counsel and understanding the judicial system,” ATJ Chair George T. “Buck” Lewis said. “This is very encouraging news, and next year we hope to see that number over 50 percent.”

Board of Judicial Conduct Begins

The newly established Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct — which replaces the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary — began its work with an organizational meeting July 7.

Officers are Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, chair; Circuit Court Judge Timothy L. Easter, vice chair; Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins, General Assembly liason; and Thomas Lawless (attorney), secretary.

Other members of the board are: Miles Burdine, president & CEO, Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce (public member); General Sessions Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton; Circuit Court Judge Timothy L. Easter; Judge Joe F. Fowlkes; Robert T. (“Tas”) Gardner (attorney); J. Ronald Hickman (public member); Chris A. Hodges (public member); Court of Appeals Judge Holly M. Kirby; General Sessions Judge Christy R. Little; General Sessions/Juvenile Judge Larry J. Logan; Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Sharp; General Sessions Judge Dwight E. Stokes; and David Wedekind (attorney).

All terms run through June 30, 2015.

Briefs

Translators Provided for Crime Victims, Not Just Litigants
Since July 1 all non-English-speaking crime victims are being provided state-funded translation services in Tennessee court proceedings. A federal mandate had ordered states to extend free translation services to all litigants or risk losing billions in federal aid. But Tennessee went a step further and included victims in the coverage. “It is important that not only those charged with a crime, but also crime victims, divorcing parents and all those who find themselves before the courts are able to communicate effectively,” Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark said in a statement.

Annual Law Camp Teaches Students About Legal Profession
Nashville's Lipscomb University each summer hosts high school students from across the country to participate in a week-long camp that exposes them to various aspects of the legal profession. This year the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Education Committee partnered with Lipscomb to teach lessons from the American Bar Association’s Civics & Law Academy curriculum and included topics such as distributive justice, procedural justice and corrective justice. Presenters included TBA President Jackie Dixon, Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur, Tyler Yarbro, Rebecca Blair, Shauna Billingsley, Ron Small and Alex Little. The camp ended with a luncheon honoring the students and their parents, with remarks offered by Bob Wood, partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, and Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur, outgoing chair of the TBA’s Public Education Committee.

Chattanooga's Minor Offenders No Longer Subject to Search
The head of Chattanooga’s gang task force says he will remove a little-known provision on a Sessions Court form that allows police to search the homes of people assigned court-ordered community service. Boyd Patterson said the provision was never intended for minor offenses such as littering, simple drug possession or similar misdemeanors. Instead, the language is aimed at the “worst of the worst” gang members. But the provision, in effect since November, requires people who agree to perform public works days through the court to allow such searches regardless of their offense.

Chairs Appointed to Lead TBA Committees

The Tennessee Bar Association’s committee chairs for 2012-2013, appointed by President Jackie Dixon, are:
ABA Resource: Jonathan Cole, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Nashville.
Access to Justice: Alex MacKay, Stites & Harbison, Nashville.
Attorney Well Being: Kay Caudle, Smith Travel Research Inc., Hendersonville.
Continuing Legal Education: Angela Nystrom, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Ethics & Professional Responsibility: Brian Faughnan, Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson Mitchell PLLC, Memphis.
GAVELS: Kevin Balkwill, Board Professional Responsibility, Brentwood.
Governmental Affairs: Courtney Pearre, Amerigroup Tennessee,  Nashville.
Leadership Law: Mary Smith, Constangy Brooks & Smith, Nashville.
Legal-Medical Relations: Mary Parker, Parker & Crofford, Nashville.
Long-Range Planning: Jonathan Steen, Redding, Steen & Staton PC, Jackson.
Public Education: Tasha Blakney, Eldridge, Blakney & Trant, Knoxville.
Publications: Charles Grant, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Nashville.
Racial & Ethnic Diversity: Cristi Scott, Clerk & Master, Chancery Court, Nashville.
Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board: Andrée Sofia Blumstein, Sherrard & Roe, Nashville.

YLD Members, Fellows Honored

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (YLD) recognized several members at its annual meeting, held during the TBA Convention in June.

The President’s Award went to Cookeville lawyer Rachel Moses with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. She was recognized for dedication to the improvement of the legal profession and to the TBA YLD. She also received the Public Service Day Project of the Year Award for organizing the first annual “Jog & Jam for Justice” in Cookeville to benefit Legal Aid.

The President’s Special Recognition Award went to Tasha C. Blakney in honor of 10 years of exceptional service to the division, including service as president, East Tennessee governor, member of the Long-Range Planning Committee and chair of the inaugural Children’s Issues Committee. Blakney is a partner with Eldridge, Blakney & Trant PC in Knoxville.

Also during the TBA Convention, the YLD Fellows held its annual meeting and inducted new members. They are Tara M. Aaron with Aaron Sanders Law in Nashville; Tasha C. Blakney; Anna Banks Cash with the Office of the 26th District Attorney in Jackson; E. Evan Cope with Cope, Hudson, Reed & McCreary PLLC in Murfreesboro; L. Carter Massengill with Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin PC in Bristol; Alicia Brown Oliver with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC in Chattanooga; Candice Reed with Ceridian Corporation in Nashville; and Michael P. Sayne with Pilot Travel Centers in Knoxville. In addition, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC lawyer Harry P. Ogden of Knoxville was named an honorary Fellow for his support and mentoring of young lawyers.