Links for March 2011

The Tennessee Justice Center, a nonprofit public interest and advocacy law firm, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. “Through its advocacy work for Tennessee’s families and low-income citizens on issues including TennCare, foster care services, food aid, and disability services, more than 1.2 million Tennesseans have benefited,” said Reverend Henry Blaze, pastor of Nashville’s Progress Baptist Church and a member of  the TJC Board of Directors. “In addition, TJC has also assisted approximately 5,000 individual clients, helping them receive basic services such as hearing aids and immunizations and life-saving services such as cancer treatments and liver transplants.”

In 1996, TJC was founded by attorneys Michele Johnson and Gordon Bonnyman. Today, Johnson is managing attorney and Bonnyman is its executive director, and TJC has a staff of 13.

Learn more at the new web site, www.tnjustice.org/ and watch a videos about its founding and anniversary celebration at

Fortune cites pro bono as plus for Baker, Donelson

For the second year in a row Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC was named by Fortune magazine to its "100 Best Companies to Work For" list, moving from 77th to 50th. The magazine cites the firm's strong commitment to public service, pointing out that it "dedicates one attorney as its pro bono shareholder to oversee charitable legal service and has doubled its yearly number of pro bono hours since 2008." See the full list and related stories

Should aging, tenured judges be tested for mental ability? Life tenure, intended to foster judicial independence, has been a unique feature of the federal bench since the Constitution was ratified in 1789. Back then, the average American lived to be about 40 and the framers didn't express much worry about senile judges. But today, aging and dementia are the flip side of life tenure, with more and more judges staying on the bench into extreme old age. ProPublica looks into the situation
http://www.propublica.org/article/life-tenure-for-federal-judges-raises-issues-of-senility-dementia

More than 100 attorneys from across the state gathered in Nashville Jan. 21 to take part in the 2011 Pro Bono Summit produced by the Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission. Brought together to take part in what Chief Justice Cornelia Clark called "the perpetual, punishing but pivotal fight for access to justice," the group — among other topics — looked at how to get greater pro bono participation and how to use technology to help meet the access to justice need. To find out more about the summit, you can watch video from the opening plenary session and the afternoon technology session.

http://tals.tnmedia.org/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=5adc9178fdf7480bb68285429263f5d7

Watch video from the opening plenary session and the afternoon technology session.
http://tals.tnmedia.org/mediasite/Viewer/?peid=c1e1b7a9bcaf4e37912f1bfce0804255

In January

Nashville School of Law celebrates 100 years

In 1911, a group of earnest young law school graduates started teaching free law classes at night in the basement of the Nashville YMCA. The idea was to make a legal education accessible to all "for the good of the town." Now 100 years later, the Nashville School of Law is going strong and seen as an excellent value. The Tennessean has the story.

Law student leadership class opens

The TBA YLD's newest program for law students — the Diversity Leadership Institute — got underway this past weekend with a focus on issues of leadership and diversity in the legal profession. The class of 15 joined bar leaders from across the state for programs on Saturday and then heard from Nashville lawyer John Tarpley and a panel of lawyers including James Crumlin, Kaz Kikkawa, Wendy Warren and Jude White. Former TBA president Gail Vaughn Ashworth led the group in a debriefing caucus at the end of the program. Over the next several months, the students will work with an assigned mentor and complete CLE and public service requirements. The program, an initiative of YLD President Tasha Blakney of Knoxville, is co-chaired by Memphis attorney Ahsaki Baptist and Chattanooga lawyer Blair Bennington Cannon. See a photo of the class on TBAConnect.

Firm gives billable credit for pro bono

 

Bass, Berry & Sims recently revised its pro bono policy to give attorneys billable hour credit for up to 50 hours of pro bono work per year. The firm announced it was making the change based on priorities established by the Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission. The firm reports that billable hour credit is a significant component of its bonus compensation policy for associates, so it hopes the change will encourage more lawyers to take on cases. Read more from the firm.

In February

M. Lee Smith merges with Connecticut company

Brentwood-based legal materials publisher M. Lee Smith Publishers has completed a merger with Connecticut-based BLR, which produces business and legal materials on employment, safety and environmental compliance issues. The merged companies will retain their existing products and continue to operate as subsidiaries of parent company Fortis Business Media LLC, with headquarters in Brentwood. The Tennessean. has the story

UT law team runner up to title

The University of Tennessee College of Law team of Amy Rao Mohan, G. William Perry and J. David Watkins finished second to Texas Tech in the 61st Annual National Moot Court Competition Feb. 3 at the New York City Bar Association. Mohan was also runner-up as Best Oralist in the four-day competition that included 28 teams from 14 regions across the country. The team is coached by professors Joseph Cook and John Sobieski.

Read more from the UT College of Law
http://law.utk.edu/news/11NatMtCt2nd.shtml

John Adams' legacy is focus of Law Day contests

The 2011 Law Day Art and Essay Contest is now underway in Tennessee. Elementary and middle school students are invited to participate in the art contest, while high school students are encouraged to participate in the essay contest. This year's theme is "The Legacy of John Adams From Boston to Guantanamo," which focuses on the rule of law and the rights of the accused in the American judicial system. The contests are sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division. Submissions are due on April 22. Cash prizes are available.

http://www.tba.org/YLD/index.html

Court pledges protection for sex assault victims

For years, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has published its opinions online, sometimes going into graphic detail about the sexual abuse of women and children. The court says its policy is to use initials in the place of victims' names, and while it has consistently done so in the case of children, its record of protecting the identities of adult victims has been spotty. Under the direction of Presiding Judge Joseph Tipton, the court has pledged to do a better job in the future but said it cannot go back and change old cases. The Tennessean. reports

Corporate Counsel event recognizes pro bono efforts

The 5th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala will be held in Nashville on March 26 at The Hermitage Hotel. The Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative was launched as a joint effort by the TBA Access to Justice Committee, the TBA Corporate Counsel Section and the Association of Corporate Counsel, to help foster a coordinated approach to pro bono work and support for the access to justice community by corporate counsel in Tennessee. The event recognizes outstanding pro bono contributions by law firms and corporate legal departments, and raises money that is given back to the community via a grant process designed to engage corporate counsel in pro bono service. Nominations for Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative

Awards are being accepted through Feb. 25.

Learn more about, or make a nomination for a Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
http://www.tba.org/TLCF/probono_initiative/2011_pbi.html

Pro Bono Summit

More than 100 attorneys from across the state gathered in Nashvilleon Jan. 21 to take part in the 2011 Pro Bono Summit produced by the Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission. Brought together to take part in what Chief Justice Cornelia Clark called “the perpetual, punishing but pivotal fight for access to justice,” the group — among other topics — looked at how to get greater pro bono participation and how to use technology to help meet the access to justice need.

Watch video from the opening plenary session and the afternoon technology session:

Public Service superstars honored at luncheon

Lawyers honored at the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Service Luncheon on Jan. 22 at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. American Bar Association President-elect William T. Robinson III, a Kentucky lawyer and TBA member was keynote speaker for the annual event, which featured presentation of the Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award, the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award and the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award.

Learn more about the TBA Public Service Luncheon and watch the event.