Links for November 2014

Law Students Gather in Memphis to Learn Value of Pro Bono Work

Third Annual Summit Highlights Opportunities for Partnership
TBA President Jonathan Steen spoke to a group of law students and faculty about the significance of making an intentional commitment to pro bono and public interest work, even as students and young lawyers. He noted that involvement with the access to justice community is “an incredibly meaningful way to enter our profession” and encouraged the students to find opportunities that are both satisfying and can help with practical skills.

Steen Urges Commitment to Pro Bono From Law Students

TBA President Jonathan Steen encouraged law students to make a commitment to pro bono and public interest work during the Pro Bono and Public Interest Law School Summit this weekend in Memphis. The Jackson attorney spoke about the significance of making an intentional commitment to pro bono and public interest work, even as students and young lawyers. The conference was hosted by the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, the TBA’s Access to Justice Committee and the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. Focus of this year’s event was on encouraging conversation and planning about the needs, opportunities, challenges and possibilities surrounding pro bono work and related access to justice issues. See photos and read more from the conference.

TBA Earns Top Honors for Communications

The Tennessee Bar Association today was recognized with three major awards from the National Association of Bar Executives. The TBA earned a Luminary Award for Journal editor Suzanne Robertson and The Law Launch Project, which followed 15 law students through their last year learning about their job prospects and getting their take on the profession in a changing environment. The TBA also was honored with a Luminary for a public service project carried out last year by Stacey Shrader Joslin,  the Young Lawyers Division  and YLD President David McDowell of Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon PLC. The project educated librarians around the state about the free legal resources available to the public. A third award was presented to TBA Membership Director Kelly Stosik, for the popular Membership Maven marketing campaign.

N.C. Law School to Offer Degree in 2.5 Years, Cut Tuition

Elon University School of Law has announced the creation of a new curriculum that will be the nation’s first standard JD program lasting less than three years. The North Carolina program will operate on a seven-trimester (or 2½-year) schedule, which will allow students to graduate in December, take the bar exam in February and begin practicing in the spring. The school will also lower its tuition, which now totals about $114,000 over three years, by about $14,000 for the entire program of study. The ABA Journal has more.

Arkansas Granted Sensory Trademark for Signature ‘Hog Call’

The U.S. Trademark Office granted TM Registration to the University of Arkansas for its “hog call.” Fans of the SEC are familiar with the wooooo-pig-sooie call. According to the Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs blog “Finding IP Value,” sensory marks are registerable just like word marks and logos when used in connection with the sale of goods or the rendering of services. 

Health Law Lawyers Gather at Annual Forum, Primer

Close to 400 health care lawyers from across Tennessee and the Southeast gathered at the TBA's Annual Health Law Primer and Forum this week in Cool Springs. Produced by the TBA Health Law Section's Chair Christie Burbank of Miller & Martin PLLC, the Forum is now in its 26th year. The Primer, produced by Chair-elect Jesse Neil of Community Health Systems Professional Services Corp., is in its 14th year. Photos by Jenny Jones.

Memphis Gets $900,000 Grant for Domestic Violence Work

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the City of Memphis $900,000 to help cover the costs of processing rape kits and domestic violence cases. WREG reports that more than half of the money will go to the local district attorney’s office so it can assign a designated investigator to process rape and domestic violence cases. 

ABA Releases Formal Opinion on the Sale of a Law Practice

The American Bar Association standing committee on ethics and professional responsibility today issued Formal Opinion 468 regarding the sale of a law practice by a lawyer or firm. The opinion states that the seller must “cease to engage in the private practice of law, or in the area of practice that has been sold, in the relevant jurisdiction or geographic area.” Additionally, while the seller may assist the buyer in the orderly transition of active clients, neither party may bill clients for time spent only on the transition of matters.

Nashville Tops List for Federal Courthouse

Nashville remains first in line to get a new federal courthouse, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Nashville has pursued a new courthouse for 22 years, when federal officials deemed the current courthouse at 801 Broadway inadequate because of security concerns. If built, the new U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee would cost $181.5 million, according to the latest government estimates. The site for the would-be courthouse is 719 Church St., next door to the Nashville Public Library.

Twitter Sues FBI, DOJ to Release NSA Request Info

Twitter is suing the FBI and the Department of Justice to be able to release more information about government surveillance of its users. The social media company filed a lawsuit today in a California federal court to publish its full "transparency report," which documents government requests for user information. The San Francisco-based company said in a blog post that it believes it's entitled under the First Amendment to "respond to our users' concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance." WRCB has more from the Associated Press.

Survey: Justice System Contributes to Unemployment Problem

Has the U.S. justice system contributed to the nation's unemployment problems? Survey data from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers suggests that more than half of released ex-offenders remain unemployed up to a year after their release from custody. Nearly 65 million Americans have a criminal record, and this carries with it potential mandatory restrictions on jobs, housing, education and public assistance. The federal government and every state imposes some sort of “collateral consequence” to arrests or convictions. Some of these restrictions make sense — but some may not, The Daily Herald reports in a Washington Post story.

YLD to Hold Clinics Statewide During 'Access to Justice Week'

YLD President Rachel Moses has announced her public service initiative for the year. During the first annual Access to Justice Week, young lawyers will be asked to plan and participate in legal clinics across the state. This “Statewide Legal Clinic Initiative” will take place in the week leading up to and following Law Day 2015, which is observed on May 1. Moses, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands, has made pro bono service a key component of her platform for the year. Those interested in helping organize a clinic in their area should contact their local district representative, who will be taking the lead in producing these events. A directory of representatives is available online.

Judicial Reform Group to Dissolve Amid Declining Membership

After 101 years of operation, the American Judicature Society (AJS) is dissolving, the ABA Journal reports. The AJS Board of Directors voted yesterday to dissolve the fair-courts organization and wind up its affairs. The group’s president, Tom Leighton, cited a challenging “membership model” for nonprofits, including AJS, in the press release. The National Center for State Courts is expected to take over the AJS Center for Judicial Ethics, and homes are being sought for the group’s peer-reviewed journal Judicature and its Internet resource on judicial selection in the states. 

Cheatham County to Start a Youth Court

Cheatham County will be home to the newest site of the Tennessee Youth Court program. Youth court programs support early intervention in delinquent or unruly behavior cases and provide first-time offenders an opportunity to face a jury of their peers. In collaboration with Cheatham County Juvenile Court Judge Phillip A. Maxey, the program will be implemented by attorneys Margaret Brady Sherbert and M. David Perez. Currently, 16 counties participate in a total of 20 programs across the state. For more information, visit the TBA website  or contact Youth Court Coordinator Denise Bentley.

Volunteer Lawyers Needed for Immigrant Children

Most of the nearly 60,000 Central American children who have arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border in the last year still do not have lawyers to represent them in immigration court, and advocates are scrambling to train volunteer attorneys to help with the massive caseload, the Associated Press reports. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, among others, is training private attorneys on the country’s immigration laws and how to work with traumatized, Spanish-speaking children. The Times Free Press has the story.

Nashville Opens Advocacy Center for Domestic Violence Victims

Mayor Karl Dean on Thursday helped cut the ribbon for the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center in Nashville, WKRN reports. The facility, located in the Ben West Building at the Nashville courts complex, is a family justice center that will serve as a place where domestic violence victims can get assistance as they go through the Davidson County court systems. The advocacy center came about after the recommendations were made in a 2013 Domestic Violence Safety and Accountability Assessment, which was released a year ago. The 3,300-square-foot area is a safe place for victims to go on their court dates while waiting for their cases to be heard to avoid contact with alleged offenders while waiting for the court proceeding.

TBAMS Seeking New Insurance Agent

TBA Member Services (TBAMS), the wholly owned subsidiary of the Tennessee Bar Association that provides insurance and other services to members, today announced that it has severed ties with insurance agent Graham Swafford III. “We expect a virtually seamless transition for policy holders,” TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur said.

Lawyers who have obtained, or are in the process of obtaining or renewing lawyers' professional liability insurance through the TBA endorsed carrier, The Bar Plan, will get a letter within the next week or so fully informing them about the continuation of service.

"One reason we set up this subsidiary is to be able to offer continual service to our members as agents come and go and that is exactly what we are doing here," Ramsaur said. Kelly Stosik, TBA Membership Director, will handle calls, emails and other inquiries while The Bar Plan's in-house agent will continue to deal with applications and other issues until a new agent comes onboard.

Health, life, and disability brokerage arrangements for policies sold under the TBA umbrella will be ironed out in the next week or two. TBAMS will be seeking out an experienced agent to step in. Any questions? Contact Kelly Stosik or Allan Ramsaur at the TBA at (615) 383-7421 or kstosik@tnbar.org or aramsaur@tnbar.org.

Report finds $3 Million in Political Ads in TN

A new study finds that nearly $3 million has been spent on broadcast TV advertising for state-level races in Tennessee this year, WRCB reports from the Associated Press. The report by the Center for Public Integrity has found that 8,565 ads have run for and against judicial, gubernatorial and legislative candidates. Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade and their supporters spent $929,000 in the August retention election campaigns, while opponents spent about $538,000. The study found that Gov. Bill Haslam spent $666,000 on about 1,900 TV ads despite not facing any serious opposition for the Republican nomination, and that advertising in state legislative races ran at about $799,000.

Justice Kirby Takes Oath in Ceremonies Today

 

 

Justice Holly Kirby today took the oath of office to officially become the newest member of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Gov. Bill Haslam administered the oath during ceremonies in the historic courtroom of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. A reception followed the event. Photos by TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur.

Chief Justice Lays Out Goals, Plans at Investiture

Dignitaries from across the state gathered in Knoxville today to mark the formal investiture of Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. Lee, who was elected to a one-year term as chief justice by her fellow justices, outlined several goals she has for the judiciary. She suggested a “top to bottom review” to see how the courts can be better stewards of tax dollars and deliver services more efficiently and effectively. She also emphasized the need for better use of technology, such as the implementation of electronic filing systems. Lee also talked about the contentious retention elections and noted how they had put the judiciary in the spotlight and underscored the need for fair and impartial courts. “Tennessee got a civics lesson about the importance of checks and balances and the necessity of a separate and independent judiciary,” she said. “Our courts play a fundamental role in protecting individual rights, providing predictability to business and in guaranteeing the fair functioning of our government.”