News

Comment by Aug. 15
Proposed Changes to Rules of Professional Conduct Released
The TBA Board of Governors has authorized release of a proposed set of refinements to the Rules of Professional Conduct for comment. The proposal is the first thorough examination of the rules since their adoption in March 2003 and represents a more than two-year effort by the Standing Committee on Ethics & Professional Responsibility.

The proposal suggests that changes be adopted in some 20 significant areas, including client consent, confidentiality, conflicts, client file, and material and public statements by prosecutors. In order for the committee to fully consider the comments before fall action, comments should be addressed to Committee Chair Lucian Pera at Lucian.Pera@arlaw.com by Aug. 15.

Download a memo on the highlights of the proposed changes and a redline of the current rules with proposed changes at http://www.tba.org/journal_links

Comment by Aug. 22
Court Seeks Comments on CLE Deadline Petition
The Tennessee Bar Association petitioned the state Supreme Court to amend Rule 21 Section 3.01 by changing the mandatory continuing legal education deadline from Dec. 31 to June 30. In an order issued June 27, the court requests written comments on the proposed amended rule from the bench, the bar and the public. The deadline for submitting comments is Aug. 22.

In its memorandum accompanying the petition, the TBA argues that the change in deadline would result in better quality CLE and reduce stress during the busy holiday season. Read the TBA's petition, memo in support of the shift and mark-up of the rule showing proposed changes at http://www.tncourts.gov/

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Briefs

Judges asked to sign 'code of conduct': The Tennessee Bar Association announced its program in June asking judges and judicial candidates in the August elections to agree to a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system. This year's effort is modeled after the highly successful 2006 program under which the vast majority of judicial candidates pledged to conduct their campaigns under the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct. Those candidates who subscribe to the code of conduct will be listed, along with other information, an the TBA's Tennessee Judicial election Information Center at http://www.tba.org/judicialcampaign/

Petitions for 'MJP' and pro bono rules amendments filed: The Tennessee Bar Association filed two petitions with the state Supreme Court June 27 " one that will clarify Tennessee practice rules by lawyers licensed in other jurisdictions and one that will facilitate and measure pro bono service.

"These ethics proposals, unanimously approved by our Board of Governors, will help create a stronger culture of volunteerism in our profession," TBA President Buck Lewis said "They will make it easier for lawyers to establish a proud legacy of pro bono service and give us the tools to measure the enormous contribution which lawyers make to their communities."

The MJP petition follows closely the American Bar Association model rule that permits casual and occasional practice by lawyers who are in the state. For the first time in-house corporate counsel, working only for their employer, could practice here if they registered and paid the same fees as a Tennessee lawyer.

Download the petitions from http://www.tba.org/journal_links

New law, court rule will guide actions following disasters: On July 1 the Tennessee Supreme Court adopted rules changes which, when taken with the recently enacted Public Chapter 725, outline the process the courts will use to address the extension of deadlines and statute of limitations when disasters occur. Under the amendment to Supreme Court Rule 49, the chief justice may extend filing and other deadlines when a major disaster incapacitates a court or courthouse. The order may also designate alternative filing methods.

The TBA-proposed legislation that won approval this year and has been enacted as Public Chapter 725 provides that the extension of deadlines under any court rule would also have the effect of extending the statute of limitations. Both of these recommendations resulted from the Emergency Preparedness Task Force appointed by the TBA in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

See the order and new text of Rule 49 at http://www.tncourts.gov/

More law schools, but not more jobs: Universities continue to build law schools, even though job prospects are not as good as they used to be. A recent Associated Press story reports that the number of students enrolled in law school is at an all-time high, even as jobs can be difficult to find. Said Makau Mutua, interim dean of the University at Buffalo Law School, "There's no question that we simply have a glut of law schools."

Document management most expensive part of lawsuits: E-mail and other electronic communications have dramatically changed the contemporary legal landscape. By some estimates, more than 90 percent of a lawsuit's cost can come from sorting through electronic documents to determine which ones are relevant to the case. The need to sort through piles of documents also has had a significant impact on the lives of recent law school graduates, many of whom will spend their first three or four years of practice going through the paper.

Connect to the National Public Radio story at www.tba.org/journal_links

AOC issues model notice for insurance termination: A recently enacted law requires insured spouses or policy holder spouses to provide notice of termination of medical insurance coverage to a covered spouse at least 30 days prior to a termination due to divorce or separation. Requirement of the notice became effective July 1. The Administrative Office of the Courts has developed a model notice that is now available on its Web site. Download the notice at http://www.tncourts.gov/

Senate approves 11-percent increase for LSC: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $390 million for the Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) FY 2009 budget in June, a $40-million " or 11-percent " increase over current funding levels, and the same amount recommended by a House subcommittee. Connect to the Legal Services Corporation's news at http://www.tba.org/journal_links

6th Circuit goes electronic: Effective June 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit implemented the ECF system for the electronic filing of court documents. A comment period on the move runs through Sept. 1. For more information or to file a comment visit the court's Web site at http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/internet/index.htm

The Complete Lawyer: What is your exit strategy? Whether you are coming up on retirement, looking at succession planning or just ready to move on to the next phase in your life, The Complete Lawyer has advice for you. In the just-released e-magazine brought to you by the TBA, 18 contributors discuss the financial, emotional and physical dimensions of creating an exit strategy that will help you achieve your goals " whether you are approaching the end of your career or just starting out.

Find it at http://www.tba.org/journal_links

Tighten up that filing! In July, a U.S. district judge in Washington, exasperated with a lawyer over a wordy, 465-page lawsuit, granted a rarely used motion for a "more definite statement." He gave the message back to the lawyer in just five lines ... with a limerick:

Plaintiff has a great deal to say, But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a). His Complaint is too long, Which renders it wrong. Please re-write and re-file today.

Find the link to the story in the Seattle Times at http://www.tba.org/journal_links

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Nominations Open for Access to Justice Awards

The Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee is soliciting nominations for the 2008-2009 Access to Justice Public Services Awards, including the

  • Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award
  • Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Award and
  • Law Student Volunteer Award

These awards will be presented at the TBA Public Service Awards Luncheon, Jan. 17, 2009. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 22. Nominations for the award can be submitted through the TBA website, and the criteria for each award is set out at http://www.tba.org/committees/AccesstoJustice/atjawards.html