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New Programs Help More Families Access Legal Services
In November, Vice President Joe Biden announced a series of steps designed to help middle class and low-income families secure their legal rights. These actions include strengthening foreclosure mediation programs, helping veterans secure the legal help they need, and making it easier for workers to find a qualified attorney when they believe their rights have been violated.
At the ceremonies, The Legal Services Corporation's Board Chairman John G. Levi launched StatesideLegal.org, the first national web site focused on common legal problems of veterans and military families, and the start of an awareness campaign involving community-based Vet Centers and local legal aid offices.
Part of the initiative is a collaborative program between the Department of Labor and the American Bar Association, which will assist workers with legal complaints related to employment issues. The two groups are establishing an attorney-referral system in which workers will be referred to lawyers experienced in the Family and Medical Leave Act and Fair Labor Standards Act.
On Dec. 1, President Obama nominated Judge Bernice Donald for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Donald currently serves as U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee. "Judge Donald has shown an outstanding commitment to public service throughout her career," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
Donald graduated from Memphis State University and in 1979 received her law degree from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She was the first African American female named a federal district court judge in the Western District of Tennessee, and is the current secretary of the American Bar Association (ABA).
On Feb. 12, during the 2011 ABA Midyear Meeting in Atlanta, the ABA's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession will present its 2011 Spirit of Excellence Award to Donald. "Her accomplishments as a jurist, and as a woman of color in a challenging, competitive profession have demonstrated a commitment to excellence, and to promoting a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession," Commission Chair Fred W. Alvarez said. "She has held herself to the highest standards, and modeled a dedication to justice to which every lawyer can and should aspire."
19 new laws start in new year
On Jan. 1, 19 new laws become effective in Tennessee. The list includes: consumer protection, TennCare, workers' compensation, pharmacy, professions and occupations, guardianship, safety, bail bonds, DUI/DWI offenses, contractors, insurance, traffic safety, unemployment compensation, education, immigrants and criminal offenses.
Apply now for ABA posts
Applications are available for lawyers interested in being appointed to any of the more than 600 positions for which the American Bar Association (ABA) president makes appointments. The deadline for submitting applications is March 1. The Tennessee Bar Association's ABA Resource Committee is offering assistance to lawyers interested in applying for service on the various committees, commissions and other entities to which the ABA president appoints. Contact ABA Resource Committee Chair Jonathan Cole at email@example.com or ABA State Delegate Randy Noel at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about ways in which the committee can be of assistance.
Law firm survey released
After two years of turmoil, the nation's largest law firms are settling into a new normal, reports a recent survey of law firm leaders. The American Lawyer's 2010 Law Firm Leaders Survey suggests that many of the changes implemented during the recession " smaller associate classes, postponed start dates for new hires, reductions in the equity pool, and scaled-back profit expectations " are here to stay for awhile.
New app offers information on Mexican legal system
Need to know about Mexican law, but don't want to spring for the cost of a Mexican legal reference book? A new iPad, iPhone app from Thomson Reuters could be your answer. It is $29.95 and includes 2,300 legal terms, making it a quick reference guide for judges and legal professionals with clients with business in Mexico, as well as law students and faculty studying Mexican law.
Deadline extended for judicial intern program
The application deadline for the Tennessee Bar Association's new Judicial Internship Program for law students has been extended until Jan. 31. Deadline for the Young Lawyers Division program previously had been set for Dec. 31, 2010. This change will accommodate first-year students who will not have fall semester transcripts available until mid-January. In addition, the deadline for accepting a position with the program has been extended to April 29, allowing students to weigh all of their summer employment options before committing to a judicial internship.
Bambi' Bembenek's lawyer continues quest for pardon
Lauri "Bambi" Bembenek died in November in Portland, Ore., at the age of 52, but her lawyer is continuing the fight to win a pardon and DNA tests for the former inmate who claims she had been wrongly accused of murder. A former Playboy model and police officer, Bembenek pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the 1981 slaying of Christine Shultz, her husband's ex-wife, in a deal that allowed Bembenek to get out of prison after a well-publicized escape. Don Paine wrote his July 2008 Tennessee Bar Journal column about the case.
Nearly record number took LSAT
The ABA Journal reports that the number of would-be law students taking the Law School Admission Test this fall was the second-highest ever.
Appeals court adopts Memphis students' arguments
The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued a memorandum opinion in a juvenile custody case that validates arguments made by University of Memphis law students appointed as guardians ad litem for the children. The students, volunteers with the school's Child and Family Litigation Clinic, argued issues regarding service of process, parental rights and parental unfitness. Clinic student C. Grace Whiting argued the case before the court on Oct. 14, 2010, marking the first time a Memphis law student presented oral arguments before the panel.
Magazine to disclose more jobs info on law grads, cites VU students as catalyst
In December, U.S. News & World Report agreed to post additional employment data collected from law schools as part of its annual rankings. The magazine currently reports the overall percentage of graduates employed at graduation and nine months after graduation. The new approach will include the number of graduates enrolled in full-time degree programs, those looking for work and those clerking for federal judges, as well as the number of graduates whose employment status is unknown. The detailed report will be available for the class of 2009, and retroactively for the class of 2008. The magazine cited the Law School Transparency project, a nonprofit formed by two Vanderbilt law students, as an incentive for the increased disclosure. ABAJournal.com reported the news.
"The law as a profession breeds depression," a man in a new documentary points out. New York lawyer Daniel Lukasik recently produced the short film about lawyers with depression, which he hopes will be shown at law schools around the country. "The film is meant to educate and inform people about what depression is and what it isn't, and also to destigmatize it in the legal profession," Lukasik told Lawjobs.com in a recent article. "I think it's a huge stigma. Lawyers are supposed to be problem-solvers. We're not supposed to have problems."
Titled "A Terrible Melancholy: Depression in the Legal Profession," the film focuses on the stories of lawyers and judges. Lukasik also founded the web site and companion blog Lawyers with Depression, "created for lawyers with depression by a lawyer with depression." Every state has some form of confidential support program for lawyers struggling with substance abuse or emotional problems. In Tennessee, contact the Tennessee Lawyers' Assistance Program at tlap.org or call (877) 424-8527 toll-free.