Links for May 2016

OTJ Celebrates 5 Years of Free Legal Advice

April 14, 2016
Online TN Justice celebrates five years of service today. The first question was posted to the site April 14, 2011. Since then, OTJ has answered over 11,000 questions received, and more than 500 Tennessee attorneys have registered to volunteer. The site has become the model for the national site, ABA Free Legal Answers. In March 2015, OTJ reached its highest monthly total of questions posted at 250. More information, as well registration to volunteer with OTJ, is available online. 

AG: Fantasy Sports Are 'Illegal Gambling' in Tennessee

April 6, 2016
An opinion released today from Attorney General Hebert Slatery said all fantasy sports contests amount to “illegal gambling” in Tennessee. “The participants do not control how selected athletes perform in actuality on a given day …Thus, absent legislation specifically exempting fantasy sports contests from the definition of 'gambling,' these contests constitute illegal gambling under Tennessee law,” Slatery writes. The Tennessean reports the opinion was requested by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

TBA Earns Top Pro Bono Award for Medical-Leadership Partnership

April 7, 2016
The TBA today received a Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group. Past TBA President Jonathan Steen and MLP Working Group Chair Charlie McDaniel today accepted the award during the annual MLP Summit, this year held in Indianapolis.

YLD Elects Barker to Lead in 2018-19

April 4, 2016
The Young Lawyers Division has elected Christian Barker of Barker Nashville PLLC as vice president to serve for the 2016-2017 bar year. He will go on to serve as president-elect, then as president of the YLD during the 2018-2019 membership year. Barker has served as the division’s Public Service Committee Chair for the 2015-2016 bar year. The election was held via electronic ballot and was open to all young lawyers in the TBA. 

Multistate Bar Exam Scores Drop

April 1, 2016
The ABA Journal reports the mean scaled score on the February administration of the Multistate Bar Examination dropped to its lowest average score on a February administration since 1983. The average score was 135, down 1.2 points from the previous year. Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, said the drop was “not surprising,” and noted February scores are typically lower than July scores.

Belmont Law's High Bar Exam Pass Rate Highlighted

March 31, 2016
The ABA Journal highlights Belmont University College of Law’s high bar exam passage rate – a 94 percent rate by its first-time takers on the July 2015 exam – as bar exam rates nationwide have declined. Jeff Kinsler, Belmont law professor, attributes the success rate to the school’s bar review course, which includes lectures on the seven subjects tested and a comprehensive writing lab.

Updates Bring Changes to TBA Website Access

March 29, 2016
The TBA is making a number of updates to the website to improve the way you find and use legal news, opinions and other information. A change to make data on the site more secure now requires that you log into the website to access court opinions and certain other documents. If you have not previously logged in to the website, you can do so by going to the “Log In” or “My Account” links at the top right of and request a new password.

Trailblazing Tennessee Attorney Claude Galbreath Swafford Dies in Jasper

Female Lawyers Struggle to Join Corporate Boards

March 23, 2016
“If you are female and a lawyer, getting a seat on a corporate board is even more complicated.” Law Practice Today explains the “glacial pace” of transition to diverse boards, and offers advice for women fighting misconceptions about putting a lawyer on a board. “At the board level, the lawyer is not there to be a nay-sayer, but a creative problem solver,” said Bobbi Liebenberg, who chairs DirectWomen, an organization founded to advocate for women lawyers to serve on corporate boards.

MBA Takes State Mock Trial Title

March 21, 2016
Montgomery Bell wins Mock Trial 2016(NASHVILLE, March 19, 2016) — Montgomery Bell Academy emerged as the winner of the 2016 State High School Mock Trial Competition in Nashville this weekend. MBA defeated the Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association team in the championship round. MBA will go on to represent Tennessee at the National High School Mock Trial Competition May 12-14 in Boise, Idaho. The two-day state competition, sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, involved 16 teams and nearly 200 volunteers, including lawyers, law students and paralegals. In addition, sitting judges in the state presided over the trial rounds at the Metro Davidson County Courthouse, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee presiding over the championship match Saturday evening. Complete results and photos are available on Additional photos are available on the TBA Facebook page.

Photo credit: Liz Todaro

Female Lawyers, Judges Earn Less Than Males

March 18, 2016
In all law-related jobs, median pay for female workers in 2014 was 51.6 percent of the pay received by male workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The data also revealed median pay for full-time female lawyers was 77.4 percent of the pay earned by their male counterparts, and female judges, magistrates and other judicial workers earned 71.8 percent of men’s pay in those occupations. “…Women are often labeled as greedy and aggressive and not team driven when asking for a well-deserved raise and bonus,” said ABA President Laurel Bellows. Read more from the ABA Journal.

Indigent Representation Task Force Announces Statewide Hearings

April 15, 2016
NASHVILLE  — The Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force today announced a series of statewide public hearings and added three advisory counsel members by voice vote: Jason Girchner, Tory Johnson and Christina Zawisza. Candi Henry will also be supporting the task force.

The Task Force also heard from four groups interested in the issues: the Sixth Amendment Center, Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference, Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference.

Here are the dates and locations for the listening tour (all times are local):

  • April 28, 2016 –Memphis – Time: 3  - 6 p.m. — Location: Pending
  • April 29, 2016 –Trenton – Time:  3  - 6 p.m. — Location: Chancery Courtroom, Gibson County Judicial Bldg. 295 North College Street, Trenton, TN 38382
  • May 19, 2016 – Johnson City – Time:  3  - 8 p.m.— Location: ETSU/specific location pending
  • May 20, 2016 – Knoxville – Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Location: Tennessee College of Law, University of Tennessee/specific location pending
  • June 9, 2016 – Cleveland – Time: 3  - 6 p.m. – Location: Cleveland State Community College, Theater Room
  • June 10, 2016 – Cookeville – Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Location: Tennessee Tech University/specific location pending
  • July 29, 2016 – Nashville – Time: 8:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. – Location: Nashville School of Law

Upcoming task force meetings:

  • July 29, 2016 – Nashville – Time: 12:30 – 3 p.m. – Location: Nashville School of Law
  • September 30, 2016 – Nashville – Time: 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. – Location: Pending
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