Links for March 2013

Court Launches Pro Bono Recognition Program

The Tennessee Supreme Court is launching a volunteer recognition program to honor lawyers who provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service annually. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting. Attorneys are encouraged to begin tracking their work this year. Those who meet the goal will be named “Attorneys for Justice” by the court and will be honored at regional events across the state. Those meeting the criteria also will receive a certificate signed by the justices, be listed in an Honor Roll published by the court, and be authorized to use a seal of their accomplishment on websites and marketing materials. The program was recommended by the court’s Access to Justice Commission.

Track Legislation of Interest to Tennessee Attorneys

The TBA has a number of tools to help you track action in the Tennessee General Assembly. Read TBA Today for regular news updates and follow the TBA Action List to track bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in — those it has initiated, taken a position on, or has a policy on. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.

Court to Require Electronic Filing of Indigent Compensation Claims

The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued an order, effective July 1, that requires electronic submission of all compensation claims for counsel of indigent defendants. The order, Rule 13A, makes amendments to Supreme Court Rules 13, 15 and 42, concerning indigent counsel, mental health proceedings and standards for court interpreters.

Court Initiative Connects Pro Bono Lawyers, Faith Communities

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has formed a faith-based initiative to encourage lawyers to provide pro bono services within their places of worship, and to support faith-based groups that commit to provide legal resources to their congregations and communities. The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA) is designed to connect with people in need in a place they already go to seek help with a problem. “Faith communities are a natural fit with our efforts to help those in need find access to legal advice,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark. “And with our goal of helping more lawyers find more occasions to provide pro bono services, this is the ideal opportunity for attorneys to put faith in action in their own worship communities." For more information contact Palmer Williams at (615) 741-2687 ext. 1414 or palmer.williams@tncourts.gov.

Memphis Law Names New Dean

Peter Letsou has been named dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis, and will begin work June 1. Letsou, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is currently dean of the Williamette University College of Law in Salem, Ore. He previously served as associate counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and Nicaraguan Opposition and as an associate with two private firms in New York. “A public law school with a distinguished history and an exceptional faculty, facility and location, the School of Law is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges now confronting legal education," Letsou said in a press release.

Court Clarifies Pro Hac Vice Admission for Admin. Proceedings

The Tennessee Supreme Court today revised the rule for out-of-state lawyers appearing before administrative law judges. The new rule — first proposed jointly by the Board of Professional Responsibility and the Judges of the Administrative Procedures Division in July — requires lawyers residing and licensed in states other than Tennessee, who appear as counsel of record before an administrative law judge, or state entity authorized to resolve controversy, to be admitted pro hac vice. Today’s court order replaces the current Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 19 in its entirety. The Tennessee Bar Association filed the sole comment, which stated it “strongly supports” the adoption of the modified revision.

SRBLSA Mock Trial at Tennessee Bar Center

Law students from across the South were at the Tennessee Bar Center Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 for the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial competition that was part of the 2013 Southern Regional Black Law Student Association Regional Convention in Nashville. A number of local attorneys and judges volunteered to serve as judges in the competition.

DLI Class Holds First Session, Hears from Diverse Lawyers

The law student members of the 2013 Diversity Leadership Institute met for their first session this month as part of the TBA Leadership Conference. The group joined legal leaders from across the state to learn about legislative issues impacting lawyers, opportunities to get involved in programs educating the public about the legal system, and dealing with conflict. Class members also held separate sessions that featured a keynote address by Gregg Ramos with North, Pursell & Ramos in Nashville and a panel discussion with Laura Bishop Baker, Law Offices of John Day; Marshall County General Sessions Judge Lee Bussart Bowles; Ashonti Davis, Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada; Brian Frye, Legal Aid of East Tennessee; Matt Potempa, Law Office of Matt Potempa; and William Stover, Law Office of William Stover. TBA President-Elect Cindy Wyrick with the Sevierville law firm of Ogle, Gass & Richardson, and former YLD president Tasha Blakney with the Knoxville law firm of Eldridge, Blakney & Trant, also addressed the group. The weekend's program was produced by YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist, an attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Memphis

Children’s Library Launched at Juvenile Court

The Hamilton County Juvenile Court will launch a children’s library in the lobby of the courthouse for the dozens of young children who must spend untold hours in the lobby daily. The creation of the library is a joint volunteer effort of Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey, the Chattanooga Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division, Green Form Construction, CASA and others. The idea, Judge Bailey told the Hamilton County Herald, was not to just relieve the lobby of congestion and noise but also to spark in children an interest in reading.

YLD Helps Arm Police With Teddy Bears

Franklin police have a new weapon at their service thanks to a donation from young lawyers in TBA YLD District 11. The group — led by Franklin attorney Shauna Billingsley — this week presented police a box of teddy bears that can be used to help comfort children when officers are called to car crashes or family fights that can be frightening to the children, the Tennessean reports.

Waller MLK Event Features Civil Rights Heroes

Leaders of the renowned Nashville Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s recalled their work and the lessons learned during a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hosted today in Nashville by the Waller law firm.

Speaking before a packed house  of several hundred in downtown Nashville, journalist and civil rights activist John Seigenthaler helped bring out the stories from Diane Nash, Ernest Rip Patton Jr. and the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., who were all key figures in the non-violent movement that led to the opening of Nashville's lunch counters to African Americans. The three were also later involved in the Freedom Rides throughout the South. Also at the event, Waller Chair John C. Tishler presented the 2012 Diversity Scholarship to University of Tennessee College of Law student Natalie Greene.