Experts Predict Top Law Firm Trends for 2014

On the eve of the New Year, legal trend watchers predict that alternative billing arrangements, new research and development programs, and lateral hiring will be among the top trends affecting law firms in 2014, reports the Nashville Business Journal. The paper cites a LexisNexis blog, which features 21 law firm managers, legal marketers and consultants offering their best predictions for practice management, technology and business development trends for the legal profession.

Today's Opinions

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TBA Closed Wednesday for New Year's Day

The Tennessee Bar Association will be closed tomorrow for New Year's Day. The office will reopen on Thursday at 8 a.m. State offices and the courts are closed today and tomorrow.

Lawyer Who Survived Rape Spearheads Law Change

As the issue of dealing with the backlog of testing some 12,000 rape kits in Shelby County moves into federal court, observers predict another attempt will be made to change Tennessee law so that the statute of limitations begins running when kits are processed. One of those rape victims, Meaghan Ybos, has been active in the effort, drafting model legislation and speaking out publicly about the situation in Memphis. Ybos is now a lawyer and is using her training to bring attention to the state’s current statute of limitations for rape cases, which runs for about 15 years depending on the offense, the Memphis Daily News reports.

Statewide, Inpatient Drug Facility Open

In August, a new, statewide component was added to the roughly 50 drug courts in Tennessee, the Tennessean reports. The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Department of Correction, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, encouraged and funded the creation of a state facility to house offenders from various counties who are so addicted that they can not be helped at the local level. The Morgan County Recovery Court in Wartburg, about 45 miles west of Knoxville, is an inpatient treatment program that will eventually house 60 to 100 people. Davidson County Judge Seth Norman is overseeing ithe start of the pilot program, and lawyer Bradley MacLean is the facility’s program director.

Ballew Granted Extension to Respond to Complaint

Cocke County Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew has been granted an extension until Jan. 6, 2014, to file a response to formal charges brought against her by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, the Newport Plain Talk reports. Charges were filed against Ballew on Oct. 23, after she ruled that a Cocke County child could not be named "Messiah." Read more from the paper.

Sotomayor to Drop Ball on Times Square

Justice Sonia Sotomayor will make history again tonight, as the first U.S. Supreme Court justice to press the crystal button to release the ball to drop in Times Square, marking the new year. Sotomayor, who is from New York City, was selected because of her inspirational story of rising from a humble background to become the first Hispanic justice on the court, said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. She has encouraged others to dream big, a nice message for a new year, he said. The New York Times has more.

DesJarlais Fighting For Another Term

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg, has been on a wild political ride: from dark-horse candidate, to surprise tea party winner, to GOP standard-bearer and finally to political outcast -- all in the span of about 36 months. Now, the second-term congressman is trying on one last label -- incumbent -- in his bid to secure a third term. The Tennessean looks at his campaign.

AWA Hosts Annual Event Jan. 23

The Association for Women Attorneys will host its annual meeting, which includes a silent auction, cocktail reception and award ceremony, on Jan. 23, 2014, at the Tower Center at Clark Tower. Also at the event, Mary Morgan Whitfield, an attorney with Shea, Moskovitz & McGhee, will take office as the group’s president, succeeding Frances Riley. The group also will present the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award to Memphis Area Legal Services lawyer Linda Warren Seely for outstanding achievement in the legal profession. All funds raised support the association’s scholarship fund. Read more about this year’s event in the Memphis Daily News or download an invitation.

Franklin Lawyer Censured for 'Prohibited Transactions'

Franklin lawyer Huntly Scott Gordon was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 23 for conflicts of interest and conducting prohibited transactions. Gordon was one of several investors in the development of two tracts of land. Over a two-year period, he collected rent on three houses while a fourth was provided rent-free. He later claimed that he had a verbal agreement allowing him to retain the rent and live in the house in exchange for services provided by the renters. The court found that his actions violated requirements that agreements be put in writing. Download the BPR notice.

Memphis Lawyer Censured for Lack of Diligence

The Tennessee Supreme Court publicly censured Memphis lawyer Samuel Rodriguez III on Dec. 23 after finding that he was not diligent in handling his clients' cases and did not communicate with his clients for extended periods of time. Other failures included not withdrawing after his client’s petition for post conviction relief was denied, not filing a notice of appeal in a timely manner, not pursuing an appeal and not filing an appeal brief in a timely manner. Download the BPR notice.

Hamblen Lawyer Suspended for Not Responding to Complaint

The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Hamblen County lawyer Joseph James Doherty from the practice of law on Dec. 27 after finding that Doherty failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice.

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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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