State Media Campaign Underway

Justice 4 ALL is theme

Working with broadcasters across Tennessee, the Tennessee Bar Association has launched a campaign to build awareness of the access-to-justice crisis facing the state and highlight efforts being made by Tennessee attorneys to help those unable to afford legal help. The campaign video has been distributed to 35 television stations across Tennessee and at radio stations in every market. The campaign continues through the end of April.

On April 4 attorneys across Tennessee will donate their time and talents to bring access to justice to those in need in more than 30 places across the state.

Find a project in your area and contact the coordinator to join in the 4ALL Public Service Day activities at www.tba.org/4ALL/. Watch the television spot or learn more about the 4ALL campaign there also.

Tennessee is not alone, either. A new study by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has found that more lawyers are donating more time to represent the poor at no charge. The research showed that 73 percent of attorneys provided some kind of pro bono representation " up from 66 percent in 2005 " and that the average number of hours donated increased from 39 to 41 over the same time frame.
Find the study through www.tba.org/journal_links

Van Horn, Seely Qualify for VP

In accordance with Sections 41 and 42 of the Tennesseee Bar Association Bylaws, the following are duly qualified for the office of vice president:

  • Danny Van Horn, Memphis
  • Linda Warren Seely, Jackson

A contested election will be conducted for the office in accordance with Sections 42, 43 and 44 of the Bylaws.

Voting is open to all TBA members; online voting began on Feb. 27. Each member with an email address on file received an email with login information from ElectionsOnline. For those who are unable to vote online or who choose to vote by paper ballot, those ballots will be mailed out on or before March 30. Deadline to return the ballot is May 1.

No contests exist for other offices and the TBA Board of Governors may declare them automatically elected. See a list of these candidates at www.tba.org/journal_links

Briefs

ABA launches mediation opinion database: The American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section's Ethics Committee has created a national clearinghouse for mediator ethics opinions and decisions. The service provides a searchable database with hundreds of opinions, including public domain opinions from 43 states. Opinions are catalogued by keyword, category, state, year and opinion type. Tennessee lawyer Marnie Huff, co-chair of the committee, praised the new resource, saying it will provide invaluable guidance on standards of conduct and confidentiality for mediators around the country.

Learn more about the database at www.abanet.org/dispute/clearinghouse.html

Supreme Court adopts provisional rule for guardians ad litem in parenting cases: In February, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order establishing guidelines for attorneys and others acting as guardians ad litem for children in divorce and custody cases. This rule, with appendix, will take effect on May 1, and will remain in effect until April 30, 2010, at which time the court will evaluate its continuation in its current form or with modifications. Find out more from the Administrative Office of the Courts at www.tncourts.gov

MALS partnership will help transitional youth: Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. is partnering with the Memphis-based nonprofit Youth Villages to teach children who have been in foster care or state custody how to transition to the "real" world once they turn 18. MALS will provide basic legal information on rights and responsibilities, information on the juvenile justice system, and counsel when needed. For more information about the program or to get involved, contact Linda Warren Seely at (901) 255-3417 or lseely@malsi.org.

Two Palestinians are first women judges: Two women in their 30s became judges in February " not headline news in the United States anymore, but when it happens in Palestine, it is. Khuloud Faqih, 34, and Asmahan Wuheidi, 31, made history when they became the first female Islamic judges in the Palestinian territories. Across the Arab world, only Sudan has had women judges in Islamic courts, West Bank-based academic experts on Islamic affairs said. Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, all relatively progressive states in the region on women's rights, do not.

Groups launch disaster legal aid site: The Legal Services Corporation, the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Pro Bono Net have launched a national disaster legal aid Web site. The resource will serve as a centralized source of information on legal issues related to disasters, help recruit and mobilize pro bono attorneys in the aftermath of a disaster, and provide accurate and timely information to victims. Check it out at www.disasterlegalaid.org

Don't forget tax benefits of pro bono: With April 15 looming, be aware there are several potential tax deductions lawyers often miss. Lawyers who provide pro bono services to charitable organizations cannot deduct the value of their services, but can deduct certain unreimbursed expenses. So long as the expenditure is incident to performing the service and primarily for the benefit of the charity, lawyers may claim travel, meals, lodging, property maintenance, advertising, broadcasting, office supplies, phone bills, filing fees and postage costs associated with their volunteer activities. Learn more from Law.com through www.tba.org/journal_links

Rule change would benefit access to justice: The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking comment on proposed amendments to Rule 5 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The amendments would allow research assistants and law clerks employed in the court system to perform certain pro bono tasks. The proposal is part of the court's efforts to advance access to justice in the state. Comments are due to the court by April 6. Read the order and proposed amendments at www.tncourts.gov

Juvenile court loses child support contract: In February, the Shelby County Juvenile Court lost a long-standing contract to collect and enforce child-support payments when the state Department of Human Services awarded the job to a Virginia-based company. The move will save the state money but will endanger more than 200 local jobs at the court, which has handled the duties for the last 45 years.

Inns of Court announces writing competition: The American Inns of Court invites judges, lawyers, students, scholars and other authors to participate in the 2009 Warren E. Burger Writing Competition. Submissions must be original, unpublished essays of 10,000 to 25,000 words on the author's topic of choice, but should address issues of excellence, civility, ethics and professionalism. The winning essay will be published in the South Carolina Law Review, and the author will receive $5,000. Submission deadline is June 15. Learn more at www.tba.org/journal_links

Track legislation of interest to Tennessee attorneys: The TBA Action List tracks bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in. This means it has either initiated the legislation, taken a postiion on the bill, or has a policy on the issue. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.

See the TBA Bill Tracking Service at www.tba.org/tba_legismain.html

Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala June 16

The TBA's Access to Justice Committee and Corporate Counsel Section have joined with the Association of Corporate Counsel to take on pro bono work and build support for access to justice among corporate counsel in Tennessee. The groups' signature event is the the third annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala, which will be June 16 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

The gala will celebrate a growing pro bono partnership among Tennessee's corporate legal departments, law firms and access to justice organizations. During dinner, the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Awards will be presented to the corporate legal department and law firm "best exemplifying extraordinary commitment to access to justice ideals, pro bono service and the Corporate Counsel Covenant of Service."

For more information, contact TBA's Access to Justice Coordinator Anjanette Eash at a_eash@tnbar.org.
Learn more at www.tba.org/TLCF/probono_initiative/ccawards.html