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Links for August 2010
Court's access to justice plans include forms, summit
The Tennessee Supreme Court today unveiled plans to bring greater access to the state's justice system by removing barriers, making the system more user-friendly, providing education and involving more lawyers and law students in closing the state's growing civil legal needs gap. Central among projects announced today was a pro bono summit in January 2011 and development of "downloadable plain-language forms" that would be approved by the Supreme Court. After attending the announcement, TBA President Sam Elliott said he was "impressed by the court's commitment to access to justice" and that the TBA would be actively supporting January's Pro Bono Summit.
A number of resources are available to learn more about the court's plans. You can download the court's media release, remarks that Chief Justice Janice Holder made in announcing the plans, or comments from Access to Justice Commission Chair Margaret Behm. You can also view an interview with Justice Holder and Behm conducted by TBA Access to Justice Committee Chair David Esquivel or an access to justice promotional video produced by the court.
Informing voters is goal of video ad
The Tennessee Bar Association has released its first web ad, which highlights the importance of not leaving judicial elections to chance and shows ways to become an informed voter. The ad provides links to TBA's Judicial Election Center, which includes a copy of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission's evaluation for two candidates up for retention election -- Justice Sharon Lee and Judge John McClarty. Lee and McClarty are both recommended to "retain." (The new parlance on the judicial retention election ballot is "retain" or "replace," rather than the former "yes/no.") The website also gives voters information about judging judges and provides a link to a page showing those judges who have adopted the campaign code of conduct.
Early voting for the judicial races, which always take place at the August general election, begins July 16.
ABA releases diversity report and recommendations
A new report from the American Bar Association lays out proposals to advance diversity in the legal profession. The report, "Diversity in the Legal Profession: Next Steps," is the result of a two-year study by the Commission on Diversity. The report contains recommendations for law schools, firms, bar associations and government bodies interested in increasing diversity. The commission is asking organizations to submit information on how they plan to implement " or already are implementing " any of the proposals in the report. Responses will be posted on the association's Next Steps web page.
Download the report here
Facebook page tracks disaster legal services
Interested in keeping up with disaster legal services in Tennessee? The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services has set up a Facebook page that has regular posts and updates on developments. Check out the Facebook page now
New site pairs nonprofits with pro bono lawyers
The Thomson Reuters Foundation this week launched TrustLaw Connect, a global service that connects organizations in need of free legal assistance with those able to provide it. Through the site's online marketplace, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and government agencies will be able to access pro bono legal support from lawyers anywhere in the world. Over 190 organizations and 60 law firms have joined the effort so far. In addition, the service aims to become an international hub on anti-corruption and governance issues by offering a database of related legislation, law review articles, news, country profiles and international conventions. Learn more on FinChannel.com
Lawyers protected from new financial rules
In a victory for efforts of the organized bar including the ABA, TBA and more than 12 other state organizations, the final version of the financial regulatory reform bill agreed to in June by the House-Senate Conference Committee exempts most law practice from the reach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Some versions of the bill could have subjected every lawyer holding funds for a client to the regulatory provisions of the act. The bar argued forcefully that there was no evidence of a problem with trust accounting that state regulatory entities like our own BPR were not capable of addressing. The "Exclusion for Practice of Law" section specifically states that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have no enforcement or supervisory authority over lawyers engaged in the practice of law who are in an attorney-client relationship with consumer clients.
Missed the TBA's 2010 Convention?
Video footage of the Lawyers Luncheon and the Governor's Luncheon held during the recent Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention are available for viewing online. The Lawyers Luncheon video features award winners for the year, remarks by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and the swearing-in of new TBA President Sam Elliott. The Governor's Luncheon video features a keynote address by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who talked about the budget process, praised the state's judicial selection system and took questions from the audience.
Memphis schools adding Youth Court to deal with violence
Fighting last school year at some Memphis City Schools led officials to look for ways to combat the trend. Introducing Youth Court to the system is one of them. The new court will be housed at Juvenile Court, where trained students will decide punishment for their peers in minor cases. Watch the story on WREG