News

Emerging leaders
35 Selected for TBA Leadership Law Program

The Tennessee Bar Association has selected a diverse group of 35 attorneys from across the state to take part in its Leadership Law program for 2009. Leadership Law, now in its sixth year, is designed to equip Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities. They include:

  • Marlene Bidelman-Dye, Chattanooga
  • Taylor Cates, Memphis
  • Jonathan Cole, Nashville
  • Issac Conner, Nashville
  • Marty Cook, Hendersonville
  • Joy Day, Franklin
  • Dawn Deaner, Nashville
  • Tremecca Doss, Nashville
  • Jay Elliott, Chattanooga
  • Wanda Everson-Donnelly, Knoxville
  • Sara Flowers-Dent, Memphis
  • Rob Frost, Knoxville
  • Tammy Hicks, Knoxville
  • Jack Lowery, Lebanon
  • Alexandra Mackay, Nashville
  • Bob Mendes, Nashville
  • Leslie Muse, Knoxville
  • Janet Mynatt, Oak Ridge
  • Andy Pippenger, Chattanooga
  • Charles Pope, Athens
  • Terrence Reed, Memphis
  • Jonathan Richardson, Nashville
  • Kristine Roberts, Memphis
  • Michael Russell, Jackson
  • Craig Sanders, Jackson
  • Chay Sengkhounmany, Nashville
  • Dumaka Shabazz, Nashville
  • Mary Smith, Nashville
  • David Stewart, Winchester
  • Jim Todd, Nashville
  • Bob Vance, Knoxville
  • Andy Wampler, Kingsport
  • Lew Wardlaw, Memphis
  • Monica Wharton, Memphis
  • Chuck Young, Knoxville

Court Seeks Comment on Pro Bono Petition  

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order Nov. 20 asking for comment on a TBA recommendation that the rules on pro bono volunteer legal services be enhanced. Specifically, the petition asks for a waiving of conflict checks for limited representation, loosening restrictions on corporate counsel involvement, setting an aspirational standard for lawyers to complete 50 hours of pro bono per year, and a reporting requirement. Deadline for comments is Jan. 16. The recommendation is part of a year-long TBA campaign, 4 ALL, a multi-faceted push to enhance access to justice for Tennesseans who cannot afford legal representation. Read the details in this press release, the court's order and the TBA's petition at www.tba.org/journal_links. �

Briefs

Court asks for comments on MJP and other proposed rules: The Tennessee Supreme Court released orders Dec. 10 requesting comment on three proposals, two of which were requested by the TBA. The first proposal deals with multijurisdictional practice (MJP), addressing temporary and casual activities that might be considered the practice of law. It also deals with limited practice privileges for in-house counsel. The second proposal would reduce the number of pro bono hours required to qualify for one hour of CLE credit. The CLE Commission joined the TBA in recommending this change. The third proposal, requested by the Board of Law Examiners, the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and the Board of Professional Responsibility, would allow lawyers demonstrating rehabilitation from chemical dependency to be conditionally reinstated to the practice of law. The TBA supports that proposal. The deadline for comment is March 9.

Learn more and download the orders at www.tba.org/journal_links.

Final loan forgiveness rules released: The U.S. Department of Education has released final regulations for loan repayment assistance provisions enacted in 2007. The new law will help civil legal aid lawyers by completely forgiving their debt on certain student loans after 10 years of service, and lowering monthly loan payments for all holders of federally guaranteed student loans.

Read more about the program from Equal Justice Works through www.tba.org/journal_links

FDIC vote ensures safety of IOLTA deposits: In November, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation extended the unlimited FDIC insurance coverage of its Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program to include accounts that are part of state Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) programs. As a result of the action, an individual client's funds deposited in IOLTA are fully insured regardless of the amount. The vote followed efforts by the American Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Foundation and other state and local bar associations and individual lawyers to persuade the FDIC that not expanding the program to include IOLTA funds would endanger the program, which provides funding for legal aid for the poor. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, was among the dozens of members of Congress who joined in urging FDIC action to insure the accounts.

Memphis law school reports high bar passage rate: The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis reports that its grads taking the Tennessee bar exam for the first time last summer scored a 94.1-percent passage rate, far surpassing the state average of 85.6 percent. Of the 102 UM grads taking the exam, 96 passed.

Legal Aid Society collects stories on first 40 years: When the Legal Aid Society was organized in Nashville in 1968, there were three attorneys and two staff members. Since then, the organization has grown to become the largest nonprofit law firm in the state, providing services to 48 counties through its eight offices. To capture some of the stories about these past 40 years, the Legal Aid Society has set up a blog where former attorneys and staff can post items about their experiences. "We feel it is important to collect these stories and preserve them," said LAS Executive Director Gary Housepian. "The Legal Aid Society has had an incredible impact on the lives of thousands of individuals and families over the last 40 years."

Learn more or post a blog http://legalaid40.blogspot.com/

MALS event raises money and awareness: Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) held its first annual fundraiser in November. According to officials the event put them "well on the way to achieving the goal of $300,000." Because of the overwhelming turnout and show of support by the members of the Memphis Bar Association, MALS' Fundraising Committee has committed to make this an annual event and a regular part of Pro Bono Month. If you would like to join in the cause and make a contribution, you may do so
at http://www.malsi.org/accesstojustice.php

Lewis honored with pro bono award from MALS: TBA President Buck Lewis of Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, was honored at the Memphis Bar Association Annual Meeting. Memphis Area Legal Services presented Lewis with the W. J. Michael Cody Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award. In addition to his personal pro bono work, Lewis this year is leading the TBA in an aggressive campaign to bring access to justice to all Tennesseans through the 4ALL campaign, an effort focusing on education, collaboration, participation and legislation.

YLD releases 2009 high school mock trial case, needs voluntters: The TBA Young Lawyers Division has released the 2009 case for the state's high school mock trial competition. The criminal case involves an armed robbery of a health food store with a number of clues pointing to an inside job by a store employee. In addition to releasing the case, the Mock Trial Committee issued revised competition rules, a list of district coordinators and details about a new sportsmanship award. Get the 2009 case material at http://www.tba.org/mocktrial

High schools in Anderson, Davidson, Hamilton and Shelby counties still need attorney coaches. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Marisa Lee Combs at mcombs@larrywilks.com or (615) 384-8444.

Rethinking legal staffing in tough economy: The longtime recommendation for lawyer/staff ratios has been three lawyers for every one secretary, although the advice is often ignored. With the economic downturn, however, staff cuts may force attorneys to share more resources. Those who work with legal staff say firms should be cautious in their reductions and not cut staff so deeply that efficiency and long-term growth plans are undermined.

To find out more, link to this National Law Journal article at www.tba.org/journal_links