Tennessee Lawyers Step Up for ‘Celebrate Pro Bono Month’

Get involved in October

Following on the success of last year’s “Celebrate Pro Bono Month” when nearly 300 Tennessee lawyers assisted more than 1,100 clients on topics ranging from domestic violence protection to estate planning, lawyers are again stepping up to provide legal clinics, education programs, public presentations and other events.

Activities kick off with a Franklin legal clinic on Oct. 1 and continue throughout the month at cities and towns across the state. See a complete listing of programs and learn how to volunteer at www.tba.org/celebrateprobono/cpb_events.html

Celebrate Pro Bono Month is part of a national campaign launched two years ago by the American Bar Association. Gov. Bill Haslam has recognized the good works of Tennessee attorneys in meeting the tremendous need for legal services in a proclamation declaring October as Celebrate Pro Bono Month in Tennessee.

Volunteers taking part in this year’s Celebrate Pro Bono activities are encouraged to wear a “Volunteer for Justice” cap that will be provided free of charge by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.

Pro Bono Partnership

AutoZone Inc. and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC in conjunction with Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) hosted its third annual pro bono legal clinic in August for Memphis-area seniors at the Orange Mound Community Center.

More than 30 attorneys, paralegals and notaries assisted seniors with the preparation of advance care plans, health care directives, durable power of attorney forms, wills and other essential legal advice. The partnership between AutoZone and Bass, Berry & Sims was recognized earlier this year at the Tennessee Bar Association’s Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala. AutoZone received the pro bono corporate legal department award, while Bass, Berry & Sims was presented the pro bono law firm award, both based in part on their participation in this project.

Diversity Scholarships

Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs established a scholarship in memory of civil rights activist  Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, a member of the firm who died last year. Created in conjunction with the University of Memphis School of Law, the scholarship will cover full tuition, books, supplies and other fees for three years. The recipient, Memphis native Corey Strong,  also will be offered a summer associate position with the firm. Strong graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a master in business from San Diego State University.

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has awarded law students Sharonda Childs, Jervonne Newsome and Bobbi Roquemore its Diversity Scholarship. Established in 2008, the program awards annual scholarships to diverse law school students who have completed their first year of law school. Each recipient receives a salaried second-year summer associate position in one of the firm’s offices. Upon completion of the summer position, the recipients also receive a $10,000 scholarship.

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP has announced that University of Tennessee College of Law student Meesha Kaw will be the first recipient of its new diversity scholarship. The firm established a $100,000 endowment earlier this year to provide an annual award to a student at the university whose life has been guided by the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Briefs

Proposed amendments to practice and procedure released
On Aug. 26, the Tennessee Supreme Court released proposed 2012 amendments to the rules of practice and
procedure, with a comment deadline of Oct. 28. The Administrative Office of the Courts has the details at www.tncourts.gov.

Bernice Donald confirmed to 6th Circuit
Memphis federal judge Bernice Bouie Donald was elevated to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in September after a 96-2 confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate. The vote was the Senate’s first order of business after returning from its August recess. The vote took place after a 30-minute debate in which both Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., spoke in her favor. Donald has been a judge since 1982 and graduated from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

Tennessee lawyers honored for disaster assistance
Tennessee lawyers were honored with the highest award presented by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives, the “Associations Advance Tennessee Award,” for bringing free legal assistance to victims following the floods of 2010. In the days following the flood, Tennessee attorneys provided free legal assistance to victims in FEMA shelters and at specially organized clinics. As part of the effort, the TBA also created a series of webcast videos to educate lawyers on how to handle the most common problems that disaster victims face.

The Tennessee Bar Association was also recognized for a continuing legal education program presented on the Scopes Trial during the association’s annual convention. That program, which took place at the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, featured Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ed Larson telling the story of the case and discussing the legal issues raised in the trial. More than 300 attorneys and judges attended that program.

Prospects looking up for summer 2012 associates
Law students in the class of 2013 have better second-year summer prospects than their immediate upperclassmen, law firm recruiting partners predict. The optimistic outlook for summer 2012 hiring underscores a trend suggested by results from The American Lawyer’s latest Summer Hiring Survey, which found that the average 2011 summer class size increased 25 percent over 2010 at 100 leading law firms.

New journal to focus on race, gender, social issues
The University of Tennessee has approved the College of Law’s newest publication, The Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender & Social Justice, which will focus on legal developments regarding race, gender and other societal topics. Staff members of the journal also will research predominant and controversial issues regarding these topics. The first issue is expected to be published during the spring of 2012.

NSL establishes scholarship in honor of alumna
The Nashville School of Law has established the Philippa T. Thompson Memorial Scholarship. Thompson, who graduated from the school in 2009, died on March 1. Donations may be made by credit card by calling (615) 256-3684 or emailing beth@nashvilleschooloflaw.net, or by check mailed to Nashville School of Law, 4013 Armory Oaks Drive, Nashville 37204.

Pro se divorce forms now available
Pro se form divorce forms approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court on July 27 may now be used in court proceedings around the state. The forms may be used in divorce cases that do not involve minor children. Download the forms from the Administrative Office of the Courts at www.tncourts.gov/programs/
self-help-center/forms

Bankruptcies up, but not as many as some recent years
A report released in August by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts showed that new filings in U.S. bankruptcy courts rose by 8 percent from 2009 to 2010, but that number pales in comparison to the more than 30 percent increases seen across the country annually since 2006.