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Links from November 2008
Court seeks comments on proposed rules changes
The Tennessee Supreme Court has published for comment proposed 2009 amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Procedure and Evidence. These amendments include rules on voluntary mediation in appellate practice, changes to the rules of civil procedure including provisions advocated by the TBA for distribution of residual class action funds to programs or funds which serve pro bono legal needs, changes in the rules of criminal procedure dealing with preliminary hearings and indictments, changes in the rules of juvenile procedure addressing permanency planning, and changes in the rules of evidence dealing with expert witnesses and prior inconsistent statements. The court's deadline for submission of comments is Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving. That is also the deadline for comments on proposed amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure on electronically-stored information. That proposal was published for comment on June 20.
Open records office adopts revised fee schedule
The state Office of Open Records has heeded suggestions from local government officials and residents to revise its fee schedule for copying public records. After holding a public hearing in which many complained that the original schedule was too complicated, the office announced in September a new simplified schedule. The fee schedule is required by legislation passed last session that updates the state's open records law.
Federal courts directed to cut costs
In September the U.S. Judicial Conference " the policy-making body of the federal judiciary " issued new policies to reduce costs. Among its recommendations are guidelines encouraging courtroom sharing by federal judges, changes to payroll systems, elimination of rent for court buildings and reductions in the size of judicial chambers and other court facilities.
Read more on Law.com
Study shows growing salary gap
A new study by the National Association for Law Placement Inc. suggests that the difference between starting salaries at big law firms and those at government and public interest organizations is growing. While starting salaries at big city firms typically hit $160,000, median entry-level salaries for public interest and legal services lawyers, as well as state and local prosecutors, hover around $40,000.
Learn more about the study from the Association for Legal Career Professionals
Nashville lawyers volunteer in record numbers
Nashville lawyers have stepped forward to become the largest team of volunteers ever to take part in the Hands on Nashville community service day. Ana Escobar, a principal at Escobar & Parks and a board member for Hands On Nashville, challenged the Nashville Bar Association to create the biggest team in the event's 17-year history. About 125 lawyers from professional groups, government legal communities and 11 firms responded. They spent a Saturday landscaping, painting, repairing and cleaning at Metro Nashville public schools.
Learn more about Hands On Nashville
Protection strengthened for design patents
Patent lawyers say a rare en banc ruling this week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will strengthen protection of design patents. The decision holds that courts should use an "ordinary observer" test, which asks whether the designs are substantially the same in the eyes of an ordinary observer, rather than a "point of novelty" test, which asks whether the design incorporates the novelty of an already-patented design.
Learn more on Law.com
Chief Justice Janice Holder told attendees of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services Statewide Equal Justice Conference yesterday that access to justice is the new strategic priority for the Supreme Court. As part of its effort, Holder told the gathering in Manchester that the court has created a new ATJ coordinator position and is reviewing proposed ATJ-related rules submitted by the Tennessee Bar Association. She also said the court supports the TBA's push to get law firms to adopt formal pro bono policies. TBA President Buck Lewis was unable to address the gathering live, but spoke to the group by webcast earlier in the day.
Court to begin new term
The U.S. Supreme Court began a new term Oct. 1 and has announced it has added 10 cases to its decision docket for the year; most of which will likely be heard in January or February.
SCOTUSblog has a summary
Loans for law school should be unaffected for now
Experts say law students with loans shouldn't panic just yet. New York Law School Dean Richard Matasar told the National Law Journal that most law students rely on Graduate PLUS loans that have government backing. As a result, lenders are likely to continue to offer the loans. That's not the case for private loans, however, which are harder to come by, said Matasar, who is chairman of the board of directors of education lender Access Group.