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Links for April 2010
Court seeks comments on emeritus pro bono rule
The Tennessee Access to Justice Commission has proposed that the state Supreme Court adopt a new rule establishing an "Emeritus Attorneys Pro Bono Participation Program." In February, the court published the rule for comment. The proposal would create new rule 50A, allowing attorneys who no longer actively practice law to provide free legal services through approved legal assistance organizations. The proposed rule lays out qualifications for participation, a certification process for both lawyers and organizations seeking to participate, and responsibilities of attorneys who are certified. Comments, which are due by April 12, should be submitted to the Supreme Court clerk.
Download the proposed rule at http://www.tba2.org/emeritusrule_comments_021110.pdf
You might need a 'virtual escape'
The same technology that has freed attorneys from their physical office space has also tethered them to clients around the clock, perhaps thwarting work-life balance as much as it helps. In fact, more than four-fifths of lawyers use a BlackBerry or other smartphone while away from the office, according to the 2009 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, up from 67 percent in 2008 and 53 percent in 2007. Read about some lawyers who were able to disconnect, at least while on vacation, and find out if that might be for you. The ABAJournal has the story http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/virtual_escape/
With bleak job market, law schools continue to fill up
About 151,400 people sat for law school entrance exams last year, and more than 51,000 entered law school -- even with the economy sending negative signals to new lawyers. Belmont, which will start its first law class in 2011, has had more than 650 people sign up for information about admission. They're all banking on the job market to improve by the time they graduate. But currently, job placement for new lawyers is still bleak. "What we are seeing is the employers of lawyers are shying away from hiring entry-level attorneys," says Pam Koerner, whose firm recruits for top law firms in the South. "They are gravitating more toward lateral attorneys with two-plus years of legal experience." With this in mind, schools are coming up with innovative ways to place their graduates, including Vanderbilt's new Public Service Initiative, which offers unemployed graduates a six-month stipend and teams them up with nonprofits. The Tennessean has the story.
Lawyers see bankruptcy, litigation boom coming Nearly one in three lawyers see bankruptcy and foreclosure as the practice areas that will experience the most growth in the next three months, according to a poll released Wednesday by California-based Robert Half Legal. Other growth areas according to practioners include litigation, labor and employment, intellectual property, ethics, and corporate governance. The survey included responses from 300 attorneys in the largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada. Learn more in the Nashville Business Journal.
UT and Lipscomb team up for joint J.D./M.A.
The University of Tennessee College of Law and David Lipscomb University's Institute for Conflict Management are partnering together to offer UT law students the opportunity to earn a Masters degree in conflict management from Lipscomb while pursuing their law degree. Students who enroll in the program will receive a 50 percent discount on tuition rates at Lipscomb. UT reported the news in its weekly electronic newsletter.
Materials available for Law Day
The theme for the 2010 Law Day has been set and materials are available for any interested parties. The theme, "Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges," explores how society can balance long-held legal traditions with changing global realities. To help guide discussion on the topic, the ABA has released a resource guide that covers three topics: reforming American government in the 21st Century, music distribution and copyright, and pirates and the law. The discussion guide is available for download on the ABA site at http://www.abanet.org/publiced/features/dialogues.html.
Learn more about Law Day 2010 at http://www.abanet.org/publiced/lawday/home.shtml
TV program looks at campaign cash in judicial races
Bill Moyers Journal looks at how campaign cash in judicial races may sway America's courts. In tonight's episode, the show revisits the 1999 Frontline special "Justice for Sale" which looked at the growing concern that campaign contributions may be corrupting the judicial process. Learn more about the program
Track legislation of interest to Tennessee attorneys
The TBA Action List tracks bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in. This means it has either initiated the legislation, taken a postiion on the bill or has a policy on the issue. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community. TBA Bill Tracking Service http://www.tba.org/tba_legismain.html
Justice Department to begin indigent defense program
The Justice Department is on the verge of launching a new program to help low-income people receive legal help, to be called the Access to Justice Initiative. Professor Laurence Tribe, reportedly one of the top constitutional lawyers in the country, will take a leave of absence from Harvard to spearhead the project. Tribe will coordinate with judges and lawyers across the country with the goal of finding ways to help people who cannot afford a lawyer. The project will use a reallocation of money already in the Justice Department's budget, according to a Justice official.
Saying the system is in "crisis" recently at an indigent defense symposium in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Eric Holder added that, "Although they may stand on different sides of an argument, different sides of a courtroom, the prosecution and defense can and must share the same objective: Not victory, but justice."
NALP's summer associate changes not as drastic as predicted
The board of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) decided in February to back off a plan that would delay the summer associate offer process by as many as four months. Instead, it adopted two smaller changes to the recruiting guidelines: The deadline for students to accept offers will drop from 45 days to 28 days, and the deadline for students who have completed a summer program to accept job offers will move from Nov. 15 to Nov. 1. Get the details from the National Law Journal
Summer associate offers hit 17-year low
Law students concerned about entering the job market now have hard numbers to back up their suspicions. According to statistics released in March by the National Association for Law Placement, the median number of offers for summer 2010 associate positions hit a 17-year low. Not surprisingly, acceptance rates hit a historic high of 43 percent. A spokesperson for the association said the numbers represent "an enormous interruption" in "usual recruiting and employment patterns." Law.com has the story from The National Law Journal
Memphis legal groups to launch homeless clinic
The Memphis office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. and the Community Legal Center will launch the Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP) program in Memphis this month. The program, first organized by a New Orleans judge, gives legal providers and law firms a platform to offer pro bono clinics specifically for homeless people. It will differ from other pro bono efforts as it will offer assistance with minor criminal issues in additional to civil issues. The clinics will be held monthly at the homeless service center Hospitality Hub, located at 146 Jefferson Ave. The Memphis Daily News reports
National study links rising law tuition to increase in staff
The average law school increased its faculty size by 40 percent over the past 10 years, according to a study by The National Jurist. The study says the higher staffing levels at 195 ABA-accredited institutions account for 48 percent of tuition increases during the period studied, 1998 to 2008. Average tuition during that time is up 74 percent at private schools and 102 percent at public institutions. Law school observers attribute the faculty increases to two things " an increased need for specialization and the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools.
The National Jurist reports on its study
Annual report filing system upgraded
The Tennessee secretary of state's office has unveiled a new system that streamlines the online filing of annual reports (at http://tnbear.tn.gov/Ecommerce/AnnualReport.aspx). While businesses have been able to file online in the past, information still had to be keyed into a computer by state employees. The new system transfers the filing automatically to the office's database. The office predicts it will save staff time " perhaps as much as $25,000 in overtime costs " save $50,000 on printing and mailing, and reduce the volume of paper records. Learn more here http://tnsos.org/Press/story.php?item=130