Links for September 2015

TBA: Only Minor Changes Needed in Code of Judicial Conduct

By Barry Kolar on Thu, 08/13/2015 - 5:42pm

In a comment filed today, the Tennessee Bar Association gave support to four proposed changes to Supreme Court Rule 10 involving judicial conduct, but recommended against a number of other proposals put forth in a report from the Joint Committee of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and the Tennessee Trial Judges Association. In its comment, the TBA said that the court “has adopted some of the most workable, fair and comprehensive set of standards for judicial candidates and judges in the country and should affirm that good work,” rather than adopting many of the proposed changes.

Comments Sought on Appellate E-Filing Rule

By Amelia Ferrell on Wed, 08/12/2015 - 5:01pm

The Tennessee Supreme Court today released proposed changes to Rule 46, which governs e-filing. The court is considering the establishment of a new voluntary e-filing system in the appellate courts. Comments on the proposal are due by Sept. 28.

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Comments Sought on Changes to Open Records Law

By Amelia Ferrell on Wed, 08/12/2015 - 4:54pm

Tennesseans can to weigh in on a potential change in how they might access public records. Inspection is generally free, but legislation introduced in the 2015 Session would permit a monetary charge. The Office of Open Records has prepared an online survey to gather opinions. In addition, three public hearings are scheduled across the state. Humphrey on the Hill has more.

The Office of Open Records Counsel (OORC) has been asked by the Tennessee General Assembly to review issues surrounding the inspection of public records, and the office is asking Tennesseans to weigh in.

Legislation was introduced in the 2015 Session of the 109th General Assembly that would permit charges for inspecting public records. While a records custodian is permitted to charge for copies of public records, inspection is generally free of charge. The OORC will prepare a report with recommendations on this issue to the General Assembly by January 15, 2016.

The OORC has prepared brief online surveys to help gather input from citizens and government entities. The responses from these surveys will help in the preparation of the final report.

Tennessee citizens can submit a survey by clicking here.

Representatives of government entities can submit a survey by clicking here.

Additionally, the OORC will hold three public hearings, in conjunction with the Advisory Committee on Open Government, to gather additional feedback on five specific questions related to these issues. Tennessee citizens, government entities, and advocacy group representatives are invited to participate by sending written comments to and by attending one of the public hearings.

  • Tuesday, September 15, 2015 (4-6 pm) in Knoxville, TN
    12 Oaks Executive Park, 5401 Kingston Pike, Building 2, Suite 350
  • Wednesday, September 16, 2015 (10 am-12 noon) in Nashville, TN
    James K. Polk State Office Building, 505 Deaderick Street, 16th Floor, Video Conference Center
  • Thursday, September 17, 2015 (3-5 pm) in Jackson, TN
    Lowell Thomas State Office Building, 225 Martin Luther King Drive, Tower B, Conference Room 1

Belmont Law Student Receives 2015 Writing Award

Annual writing competition focuses on environmental issues

NASHVILLE, Aug. 11, 2015 — Patty Whitehead, a recent graduate of the Belmont University College of Law, is the winner of the 2015 Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition, which is sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section.

Law Firms Reserving New .Law Domains

By Stacey Shrader on Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:21pm

Some prominent law firms are among the early adopters of the new .law domain name extension. DLA Piper; Russell and Goldstein; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have each already reserved their new names. Firms that have registered trademarks with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — the nonprofit responsible for coordinating the monitoring and creation of naming conventions on the Internet — are eligible to reserve a new address through Oct. 12. According to the ABA Journal, additional domains such as .attorney, .esq and .lawyer also will be available soon. Learn more at

2016 Law Day to Focus on Miranda Rights

By Stacey Shrader on Fri, 08/07/2015 - 2:58pm

In 2016, the nation will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases: Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda Warning has become ingrained in law enforcement and has permeated popular consciousness through countless recitations in films and television shows. But it is only part of the story when it comes to the procedures for ensuring justice. The 2016 Law Day theme “Miranda: More than Words” will explore the procedural protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts and why the preservation of these principles is essential for liberty.

ABA Asks Court to Clarify Right to Ineffective Counsel Claims

By Stacey Shrader on Thu, 08/06/2015 - 3:00pm

The American Bar Association has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the high court to take up the case of Loden v. Mississippi to clarify an earlier ruling affecting a defendant’s ability to raise claims of ineffective counsel. The court ruled in 2007 that a defendant who actively prevented counsel from investigating mitigating evidence was precluded from later raising claims of ineffective counsel. The brief argues that lower courts should not interpret the 2007 opinion as a bright line waiver rule but rather should consider the role played by counsel in a defendant’s decision to waive the right to present mitigating evidence.

TBA Honors Former President at Chicago Reception

By Allan Ramsaur on Wed, 08/05/2015 - 4:49pm

TBA President Bill Harbison joined attorneys from across Tennessee and other states in honoring Memphis attorney Randy Noel during a reception in his honor Saturday at the annual ABA Convention in Chicago. Noel, with Butler Snow, is a former TBA president and a former Tennessee delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Support for the event was provided by the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. 

City to Buy Former State Supreme Court Site

By Brittany Sims on Wed, 08/05/2015 - 4:31pm

Knoxville City Council members voted unanimously to purchase the former state Supreme Court site on Locust Street for $2.47 million. The building has been vacant for more than a decade, and in that time the city has twice attempted and failed to find a developer for the site. This time around, the city plans to use a market study to find out what kind of use the area can support — including possible retail, residential, office and hotel space — before tailoring a more specific request for proposals. Knoxnews has more.

New ABA President to Work on Diversity, Inclusion

By Brittany Sims on Tue, 08/04/2015 - 4:30pm

Paulette Brown took office today as president of the American Bar Association at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. She is the first woman of color to become president of the 136-year-old organization. Brown, a labor and employment law partner at Locke Lord LLP in Morristown, N.J, plans to devote her presidency to serving ABA members and highlighting the value of the association by reaching out to lawyers and communities across the country. She also plans to build on the work the ABA has already done in the area of diversity and inclusion through a newly created Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360.

ABA Rejects Pay-for-Externs Proposal, LSAT Exemption

By Brittany Sims on Mon, 08/03/2015 - 4:24pm

Law students won’t be allowed to receive both pay and academic credit for externships this year following nearly two years of debate, the National Law Journal reports (sub. req.). During the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago on Friday, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar declined to eliminate its ban on such arrangements, citing opposition from clinical law professors. The council also voted to revoke a year-old rule allowing law schools to admit up to 10 percent of their first-year classes from applicants who have not taken the LSAT.

Young Lawyers Earn 3 National Awards

By Stacey Shrader .on Mon, 08/03/2015 - 3:53pm

The TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) was honored at the American Bar Association YLD meeting in Chicago Saturday with three Awards of Achievement. The group took second place in the diversity category for a program it held last March to help diverse law students refine their resumes and prepare for job interviews. It also received the second place award in the “comprehensive” category, which recognizes all projects and activities from the past bar year. Finally, the YLD received a special recognition award for its Access to Justice Week Legal Clinic Initiative — a statewide service project that produced 14 free legal clinics and educational seminars for Tennesseans.

Chattanooga, Hamilton County Launch Mental Health Court

By Brittany Sims on Fri, 07/31/2015 - 4:29pm

The new Chattanooga-Hamilton County Mental Health Court launched yesterday, News Channel 9 reports. The mental health court aims to provide services and break down barriers to recovery for defendants with serious mental illness. The program offers judicial supervision combined with treatment services to help defendants who would otherwise be released without additional support.

National Bar Leaders Learn About

By Barry Kolar on Fri, 07/31/2015 - 3:57pm

Former TBA President Buck Lewis today told attendees at the 2015 National Conference of Bar Presidents about the OnlineTNJustice (OTJ) program that uses technology to help deliver legal services. The platform was developed in Tennessee and has been adopted by several other states. The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is working to implement a national version. See photos from the event.

Law Grad Employment Rates Finally Up, Class Size Down

By Brittany Sims on Thu, 07/30/2015 - 4:29pm

The National Association for Law Placement today released its annual employment figures for last year's law school graduates. The big news is that the overall employment rate rose for the first time since 2007 -- from 84.5 percent in 2013 to 86.7 percent in 2014. But some caution may be warranted. While the employment numbers were up, the number of students seeking jobs was down. The 2014 class was substantially smaller, by about 3,000 graduates, than the 2013 class, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

Traditional Law Firm Model Not Effective in Offering Women Positions of Power

By Brittany Sims on Wed, 07/29/2015 - 4:33pm

While the gender landscape in the legal industry is certainly changing, there is an undeniable amount of work to be done to elevate women to positions of power in law, according to Inside Counsel. The law firm model has been culturally and professionally established by men, the article says, so there has naturally been a slow-moving course toward matriculating women into it, and making it one driven by both sexes. “Law firms can help by teaching their partners about implicit bias and its impact on staffing and promotion decisions and providing training for them to find ways to overcome the effects of this bias on the career development of women (and minorities),” says Cynthia A. Bergmann, chair of the executive committee of Chicago-based firm Freeborn & Peters LLP.