COVER STORY: This Month’s Top Story

How can your clients appropriately classify most workers as independent contractors in Tennessee? How can you argue that workers who want to be protected by wage regulations and other labor laws are “employees?” The answer to the former question may be easier and the answer to the latter may be more challenging as new amendments to Title 50 redefine what it means to be an “employee” in Tennessee.

FEATURED: This Month’s Articles

Tennessee Bar Association members will experience a new level of online services when they visit the newly refreshed TBA.org website later this month. After several months of development and collaboration among TBA members, staffers and the Member Central team in Austin, Texas, the TBA’s website is set to emerge with a new look and new features that will serve members as the organization moves forward into 2020 and beyond. Watch for the changeover in mid-January.

COLUMNS: Quick Reads on Timely Topics

President's Perspective

The New Year always brings about new plans. For many of us, resolutions abound as we plan to have a healthier, happier, more prosperous New Year: Plan to eat less and exercise more; to drink less; to save more; to enjoy more time with family and friends and decrease our stress level. Some plans relate to the practice of law: be more organized and procrastinate less; record those billable hours daily; find ways to cope with the stress of practicing law.

Family Matters

The Tennessee Code provides, as an alternative to divorce, that parties may enter into a legal separation agreement. Specifically, the Code states “[a] party who alleges grounds for divorce from the bonds of matrimony may, as an alternative to filing a complaint for divorce, file a complaint for legal separation. Such complain shall set forth the grounds for legal separation in substantially the language of § 36-4-101 and pray only for legal separation or for such other and further relief to which complainant may think to be entitled.”1

Day on Torts

People and businesses have attempted to avoid responsibility for wrongful acts for all recorded history. Adam blamed Eve.1 Eve blamed the serpent.2 The Nuremberg defense is frequently offered as an explanation or rationalization for misconduct in both the government and private sectors.3

Book Review

As a family law attorney and litigator, I’ve repeatedly engaged the services of forensic accountants as expert witnesses and as professional consultants in high asset cases. Like most of my attorney peers, I’m not an accountant, and until I read Miles Mason’s book cover to cover, I was perfectly happy to be in the dark when it came to arcane concepts like ERISA law, QDROs and vertical analysis.

Spark

So sorry to start this year off on a down note, but statistics will back me up on this: if you are reading this magazine a week or two into the year, you have probably already given up on your New Year’s resolution. According to HealthFacts.org, studies have found that only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. Why is that?

YOU NEED TO KNOW: News, Success, Licensure & Discipline

Ethics Opinion: Guidance for Lawyers Who Change Firms

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released guidance Dec. 4 on the ethical obligations for lawyers when they change firms. Formal Opinion 489 acknowledges that a lawyer has the right to switch firms and notes that ethics rules do not allow non-competition clauses in partnership, member, shareholder or employment agreements.

When a lawyer gives notice, the formal opinion suggests the lawyer and the firm develop a plan that is orderly, flexible and “protects client interests during the lawyer’s transition.”

Kelso Stevens has joined the Nashville office of Stites & Harbison, where he will practice in the Business & Finance Service Group. He previously was a summer associate at the firm. Stevens received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2019. While in law school, he was involved in the Sports and Entertainment Legal Society, Pro Bono Clinic and Vols for Vets. Prior to law school, he worked as an events specialist for Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

DISABILITY INACTIVE

The Tennessee Supreme Court transferred the law license of Ohio lawyer Thomas Robert Wolf to disability inactive status on Nov. 22, 2019. Wolf may not practice law while on inactive status but may petition the court for reinstatement by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed, and he is fit to resume the practice of law.