Links for November 2013

Law Firm Mergers Up this Year

Law firm mergers are up 41 percent from the same period last year, according to legal consulting firm Altman Weil. Forty-eight law firm combinations were announced in the first three quarters of the year, with 19 mergers and acquisitions announced in just the third quarter. The ABA Journal has more.

Report: Lawyer Assistance Programs Expand Scope

Despite budget reductions in some jurisdictions, lawyer assistance programs in 48 states have reported a continued commitment to maintaining the number of clients served and offering a diversity of services, the ABA reports. According to a 2012 report from the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, while all programs continued to offer services related to alcoholism and drug addiction, more programs in 2012 than in 2010 provided services for other problems, such as cognitive impairment and mental health issues.

Leaving Big Law Doesn't Have to Mean Leaving Pro Bono

In a blog post for Public Counsel, Sarah Luppen reflects on her positive experiences working with pro bono cases while employed at a Vault Law 100 firm. Her subsequent move to a smaller firm led to a decrease in the number of pro bono cases she took on due to a lack of firm support. In honor of National Pro Bono week Oct. 21-26, Luppen will blog about getting back into pro bono work and non-traditional pro-bono opportunities that fit small-firm and in-house lawyers’ needs.

Tennessee Revises Execution Protocol

The Tennessee Department of Correction announced Friday that it is switching from a three-drug method to a single-drug method to execute death row inmates, the Associated Press reports. The new protocol now calls for using the sedative pentobarbital only to put an inmate to death. Tennessee's supply of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs previously used in lethal injections, was turned over to the federal government in 2011 over questions about how it was imported. The short supply of sodium thiopental in the United States has led many death penalty states to seek out other drugs. Read more in the Memphis Daily News.

Mentors Needed for Law Student Diversity Program

The YLD Diversity Committee is seeking attorneys across the state to volunteer as mentors for law student participants in the Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI). Each member of the 2014 DLI class will be assigned to an attorney mentor and will be required to interact with their member at least twice during the six-month program beginning January 2014 and running through June 2014. If you are willing to serve in this capacity, please contact Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist at (901) 537-1123 or abaptist@wyattfirm.com.

Deadline for Loan Repayment Program Extended

The John R. Justice Loan Repayment Program application deadline has been extended to 4:30 p.m. Central time on Dec. 20. Any qualifying District Attorney or state or federal public defender may apply for the award. Those who have previously received an award are given priority consideration, but they must submit a new application to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp. They are not guaranteed funding.

Tennessee CASA Names 2013 Award Winners

Tennessee CASA today presented 13th Judicial District Attorney General Randy York with its 2013 Champion for Children Award. York, who serves Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White counties, was recognized for his use of a state law allowing the seizure of assets following conviction for a sex crime against minors. Funding from the seizures goes to child abuse prevention organizations, including CASA. It also presented its CASA Advocate of the Year Award to the TBA’s  Stacey Shrader Joslin for her work as director of the Young Lawyers Division and a contributing writer to the association’s daily newsletter TBA Today. The TBA YLD has long supported the work of CASA through a variety of initiatives, and each year recognizes an outstanding volunteer in the state.

ABA Issues Draft Report on Law School Overhaul

The ABA Task Force on Legal Education has recommended sweeping changes to how law students prepare to become lawyers, MLive reports. In a draft report issued today, the task force calls for serious re-engineering of how law schools are priced and financed. The concept of decreasing law school from three years to two in order to reduce student loan debt is currently a hot-button topic of discussion among the legal education sector, but the report does not engage the idea or suggest specific changes to the law school funding model. A final report will be issued after additional discussion about the draft recommendations.

New App Puts Constitution at Your Fingertips

The 2,860 page annotated Constitution is now available for free in an app released Tuesday in honor of Constitution Day, the ABA Journal reports. The app was released by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Government Printing Office and is available from iTunes.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/09/17/happy-constitution-day-now-we-can-all-download-our-own-copy/
http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2013/13-164.html

Court Increases Attorney Compensation

The Tennessee Supreme Court today announced increases to the maximum attorney compensation for some non-capital felony cases. Where the defendant is charged with first degree murder or a Class A or B felony, the Court raised the maximum from $1,500 to $2,500. They also raised the maximum in complex or extended cases for the same offenses to $5,000. The increased limits apply to cases where counsel is appointed after Jan. 1, 2014. These changes were among those advocated by petitions filed two years ago by the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers with TBA support.

New Date Set for Judiciary Museum Unveiling

The Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society has rescheduled the unveiling of Phase II of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum. The event now will take place on the evening of Dec. 4. It will feature a short program honoring Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder for her service on the court, as well as cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. The event was moved back one day so as to not conflict with the Nashville Bar Association’s Annual Meeting set for the evening of Dec. 5. To purchase tickets for the museum event contact Linda Knight at lknight@gsrm.com or (615) 244-4994. Download a flyer with more details.

LinkedIn Endorsements Could be Trouble for Lawyers

Lawyers should be careful of the “like” or “endorsement” features on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Information Week cautions. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct has specific restrictions on lawyer advertising and solicitation of clients including Rule 7.1 that provides lawyers should not make any false or misleading communication about their services, and Rule 7.2 which prohibits reciprocal or quid pro quo endorsements. The article states perhaps the most appropriate thing for attorneys to do at this point is either to disable the endorsement feature (if that can be done) or disclaim any implication of special skills or abilities based on such endorsements.