Legislative Wrap-up

Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Grants Available

Applications are now being accepted for the 2008 Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Grants. Sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association, the grants will be funded by money raised from the First Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Reception and Dinner. The money will go to local access to justice organizations and partnerships with corporate legal departments and law firms to defer the costs of developing pro bono opportunities/projects specifically designed for corporate counsel. The projects funded will be those that appear best able to:

  • Successfully recruit and serve both volunteers and clients
  • Successfully employ the specific skills of corporate counsel in meaningful pro bono work
  • Meet an apparent need in the community for legal services
  • Provide measurable outcomes efficiently and effectively

The amount awarded will not exceed $10,000 unless extraordinary justification can be offered as to how the additional funds are necessary to the success of the proposed project.

More information about the application process is available at www.tba2.org/journal_links or contact Tennessee Bar Association Access to Justice Coordinator Becky Rhodes at brhodes@tnbar.org

 

The Second Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala will be May 22, at the Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville.

The Gala will celebrate the pro bono partnership among Tennessee's corporate legal departments, law firms, and access to justice organizations.

The first Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Awards will be presented during the dinner to the corporate legal department and law firm "best exemplifying extraordinary commitment to access to justice ideals, pro bono service and the Corporate Counsel Covenant of Service."

Nominations for these Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Awards are now being accepted, but nominations must be received by April 4. Nomination forms for the awards, and the covenant, are available at www.tba2.org/journal_links.

524 new lawyers: That's how many students passed the July 2007 bar exam.

Ceremonies were held in November in Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga and Knoxville. The Tennessee Bar Association hosted about 150 new attorneys and their families at an Open House luncheon after the Nashville ceremony. See pictures at www.tba2.org/journal_links

Nashville jurors now can ride bus for free: A new partnership between the court system and Nashville's Metro Transit Authority will allow jurors to ride the bus to the Chancery, Circuit and Criminal courts for free. Officials hope it will end up saving money for the government.

New survey shows top female lawyers earn less than men: A new survey by the National Association of Women Lawyers shows "slow progress" for women in the upper echelons of big law firms. The National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms found that only 16 percent of equity partners at large law firms are women, and that they earn almost $90,000 less than their male counterparts " a disparity that has increased from last year. Download the study at www.tba2.org/journal_links

Top 100 legal blogs named: The December issue of the ABA Journal lists its top 100 blawgs (legal blogs) and gives readers a chance to vote for their favorites. Check them out at www.tba2.org/journal_links

New workers' comp rules now in effect: New Utilization Review (UR) rules that became effective on Dec. 26 are now available from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Workers' Compensation. The new rules require specific uniform standards " either from the Official Disability Guidelines or the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine " be used in making all utilization review determinations. The new rules also provide for civil penalties in some cases for failure to comply. Contact Suzy Douglas at Suzy.Douglas@state.tn.us or   615-532-1326 with questions. To see the complete rules and guidelines, go to www.tba2.org/journal_links.

2008 mock trial case posted: The TBA Young Lawyers Division has released the 2008 state mock trial problem and competition rules. This year, teams will debate a civil case stemming from a car accident involving a teenager allegedly text messaging and speeding while driving. The state competition will be held March 14-15 in Nashville following district competitions throughout the state.

For more details visit the mock trial Web page at http://www.tba.org/mocktrial/

Save the date! The TBA Young Lawyers Division will hold a networking and social event in Nashville on Jan. 17. Join other Nashville young lawyers for a reception and watch the Predators take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Anaheim Ducks. For more information contact Mary Beth Haltom at (615) 259-1366 or
mhaltom@lewisking.com.

"Lend-an-associate" is growing trend: An innovative perk being offered to favored clients by a small but growing number of law firms can also provide big benefits to associates and the firm. These so-called "secondments" are essentially a loan of an associate to work onsite for a client for a set period of time. According to an article in New York Lawyer, the practice allows clients to get the benefit of the associate's work at significantly less than it would pay the firm at ordinary billable-hour rates; allows the associate to gain valuable expertise in the client's business; and helps the firm solidify client loyalty.
Read more about this trend at www.tba2.org/journal_links

Save money with a health savings account: The TBA has partnered with First Horizon Msaver Inc. to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and HSA-qualified health plans for individuals and groups to members. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts that let you set aside money to pay for current and future medical expenses. For more information, or to obtain an instant quote for an HSA-qualified health plan, call the TBA's dedicated toll-free customer care line at (866) 257-2659 or visit the TBA member Web site at http://www.tba.org/benefits/hsa.html

New book tracks Vandy law history: Associate Dean Don Welch and Vanderbilt University Press have just released the first book-length history of the school. Find out more at www.tba2.org/journal_links

eBay fined for patent infringement: A federal judge declined in December to overturn a jury's verdict that eBay deliberately infringed the patent for "Buy It Now" technology. That mechanism allows shoppers to purchase an item at a preset price rather than bid for it. The case represents a legal landmark, according to Bloomberg.com, since the judge did not require eBay to stop using the technology, though he imposed the $30 million fine.