News

TBA Public Education Committee Legal Handbook for Seniors Is Ready, Free

A book full of valuable information for Tennessee seniors is now available from the Tennessee Bar Association — and it’s free.

The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors launched Feb. 24 and is available via website download, electronic flashdrive or printed copy.

The 2014 Handbook contains practical advice on a wide range of topics, including applying for Social Security benefits, long-term care considerations and estate planning. The book is an update of the Handbook published and distributed in 2001 by the TBA Elder Law Section, the TBA Young Lawyers Division and the TBA Senior Lawyers Division. The new version has completely new sections addressing online security and new health care legislation. An updated list of resources relevant for Tennessee seniors is also included.

The book is being distributed to a diverse group of audiences, including seniors, social service providers and others who may be planning for or supporting an older Tennessean. These groups may include senior centers, speaker clubs, church groups, lunch clubs, professional organizations or other gatherings.

It also provides an opportunity for lawyers to speak to groups about it.  The updated handbook is available at no cost to TBA members via digital format for their use in counseling their clients. TBA members are invited

to add their firm’s logo and contact information to the Handbook cover for distribution to their clients.

All materials needed for presentations, including an electronic copy of the Handbook, the Powerpoint presentation and sample video are available on the TBA web site. Electronic and printed copies are also available to the public directly from the TBA.

Interest was renewed in the original project by TBA President Cindy Wyrick as she identified priorities for this year. Chief among them is this initiative that relates directly to meeting the needs of the growing and frequently underserved senior adult population in Tennessee. The TBA Public Education Committee produced the book, through the leadership of co-chair Angelia Nystrom.

Learn more and download the Handbook at www.tba.org/resource/ the-2014-legal-handbook-for-tennessee-seniors

Briefs

Judicial Candidates Sign Code of Conduct
Nearly 150 judicial candidates running for election this year had signed the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct as of the end of January. In doing so, they have agreed not to comment during the campaign on legal issues that might come before them as a judge, and if elected, to conduct themselves in a fair and impartial manner and recuse themselves from issues on which they already have announced how they would rule.

The list, released Jan. 27, includes justices and judges facing retention elections, as well as judges and challengers in contested elections. The program, which is aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system, is overseen by the Judicial Campaign Code Committee.

Learn more about the code and see the list of those who have agreed to abide by it on the TBA’s online Judicial Selection Information Center. Judicial candidates who have not yet signed the pledge but desire to do so should email or call TBA staff member Karen Belcher, (615) 383-7421.

LSC Gets Funding Increase, New Pro Bono Program
The $1.1 trillion dollar federal spending bill recently signed into law increases funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) by $25 million in fiscal year 2014 — a seven-percent increase from last year and the first increase in four years. The final bill also includes $2.5 million for a new Pro Bono Innovation Fund, which will support new and innovative pro bono projects across the country. The final spending bill provides $365 million for the agency. Of that, $335 million is for basic field grants, a six-percent increase from last year.

Informed Voters Project Garners Judges' Support
The Conference of Chief Justices unanimously voted in favor of a resolution supporting the National Association of Women Judges’ (NAWJ) Informed Voters Project in February during its mid-year meeting. According to a press release, the resolution applauds the effort, noting that “voters casting a ballot for judges rarely have available relevant, accurate, and easy-to-access information on individual candidates or on the role of the judiciary.” The non-partisan voter education project is focused on increasing public awareness about the judicial system, informing voters that politics and special interest attacks have no place in the courts and providing voters with the tools they need to cast an informed vote.
Tennessee is just one of a few states participating in a pilot program of the project this year. Learn more at http://ivp.nawj.org.

Appellate Court Clerk to Become Full-Time Deacon
Clerk of the Appellate Courts Mike Catalano  will retire in June to become an ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, pursuing his ministry on a full-time basis. Catalano has served the state of Tennessee for more than 35 years in a variety of roles. He was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to be the appellate court clerk for a six-year term starting in January 2004 and was reappointed for a second term starting in January 2010. “Mike Catalano is the consummate professional — a public servant of the first order. As a valued leader within the office of the attorney general and as clerk of all of our appellate courts, he has performed his duties in an exemplary fashion -- with class, dignity, and courtesy,” Chief Justice Gary R. Wade said in a press release.

Comment on Proposal to Change Certification of Specialization
The Tennessee Supreme Court is soliciting public comments to proposed amendments to Supreme Court Rule 21, Section 10 and 1.01 and Rule 8. The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization had earlier filed a petition seeking changes to the process for certifying Tennessee lawyers as specialists. Under its proposal, the commisison would no longer certify Tennessee lawyers, but would maintain and publish a roster of lawyers who have obtained certification from an ABA-accredited organization. The deadline for submitting written comments is May 21.

Access to Justice Project Wins Frist Grant for Legal Needs Study
The Frist Foundation has approved a grant requested by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission to support a comprehensive, statewide study of the legal needs of low-income and homeless Tennesseans. The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) will administer the grant.

The study will be conducted by the University of Tennessee, College of Social Work Office of Research and Public Service and will include an updated needs assessment, identifying the civil legal needs of low-income Tennesseans, as well as an examination of the effectiveness of the current delivery system for meeting those needs.

“The information we will get from this study will be extremely valuable to a wide spectrum of entities which serve the legal needs of Tennesseans,” Access to Justice Commission Chair George T. “Buck” Lewis said.

TBA Executive Honored
The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee’s law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception during the annual American Bar Association Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The “Tennessee Reception” is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives. See photos of the event via www.tba.org/journal_links.

Supreme Court Building Up for Historic Status
The Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville was one of eight sites nominated from across the state this year to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 77-page application celebrates the court’s important civic standing and its significance as a New Deal project partially funded by the Public Works Administration. The Tennessean notes that four-story building, completed in 1937, features limestone mined in quarries near Knoxville that is known as “Tennessee Marble” because of how it can be polished. The building was featured in the Journal’s November 2012 issue at its 50th anniversary.

Conference Trains Leaders, Celebrates Public Service

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center for educational programming in January at the 2014 Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Conference in Nashville. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session.

The group then headed to the War Memorial Auditorium for the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon, where Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan spoke to the nearly 200 people gathered. “I believed I could made a difference,” she said about why she has run for public office seven times. “The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask ‘If I don’t do it, who will?’' That’s why I do what I do.”

Also at the lunch, the TBA Public Service Awards were presented. Those honored were Chattanooga lawyer Charles “Buz” Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies.

Learn from a Mentor, Be a Mentor in New Program

ew lawyers can get advice on a regular basis from someone more seasoned through a new program sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Mentoring Committee. If you are a TBA member within the first three years of legal practice, you are eligible to participate in the TBA’s Mentoring Program. If you have been in practice more than eight years, consider being a mentor.

Those participating in the program will engage in a formal mentoring relationship for one year. Mentors and mentees will meet face-to-face at least once a month during the year and will cover a variety of curriculum topics.

The program launched in January with the first group, and TBA members interested in participating in the next class should visit www.tba.org/programs/the-tba-mentoring-program for more information and application materials. The site also includes links to other mentoring programs across the state for lawyers.

Questions about the program should be directed to Mentoring Coordinator Christy Gibson, (615) 383-7421.

New Legislative Tool Keeps TBA Members Up-to-Date

The TBA has expanded its legislative advocacy efforts through TBAImpact, a tool to make sure your voice is heard in the halls of the General Assembly on issues important to sustaining and improving the practice of law. The TBA has a long tradition of advocating on behalf of its members in the General Assembly. TBAImpact will enhance these efforts, giving you an opportunity to weigh in on issues important to the profession. TBAImpact also will connect you with your legislators on key issues in the legislature. Log in to your TBA account, then click on the TBAImpact tab to access the interactive tool.