Trump Picks 'Big Law' Lawyers for Key Posts

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Robert Lighthizer, a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, as his nominee for U.S. trade representative. Lighthizer served as deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration and has been critical of China’s trade practices. At Skadden, he has represented companies seeking access to foreign markets and litigated antidumping and other trade cases. The ABA Journal has links to several stories on the nomination. Trump also has nominated Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, News Channel 9 reports. Clayton is a partner in the New York City office of Sullivan & Cromwell.

read more »

Have Comments About the Business Court Docket Project? We Want to Hear Them

Dear TBA Business Law Section Member,

The Tennessee Bar Association has recently been asked by the AOC to weigh in on the effectiveness and/or success of the Business Court Docket Pilot Project currently operating in Davidson County Chancery Court, Part III. For those of you not familiar with the project, here's a detailed overview that appeared in the Tennessee Bar Journal by Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee and Chancery Court staff attorney Justin Seamon.

In order to properly evaluate the project, we would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts and opinions concerning the Business Court. Your feedback will be used as part of the Tennessee Bar Association’s overall review of the Business Court’s success and perception among members.

If you are interested in sharing comments, please submit them by Jan. 10 to TBA Section Coordinator Christy Gibson, with "Business Court" in the subject line.

I personally thank you in advance for your assistance in this endeavor.


Chris Trump
TBA Business Law Section Chair

read more »

Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

read more »

Banking, Estate Planning ... and a Business Relationship with Santa

There's still time to catch the December Tennessee Bar Journal -- in this issue, columns include banking law, estate planning and one man’s long-term business relationship with Santa. Nashville lawyer Kathryn Reed Edge writes in her column Bank On It, about preventing insider fraud and abuse; Knoxville lawyer Eddy Smith's column, Where There's a Will, is "Report for Duty: Protecting Against Fiduciary Liability"; and in his column, Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom reveals the secrets of Santa's changing role over the years.

read more »

Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.
How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.
If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education or access an Affidavit of Sole Authorship or an Affidavit of Joint Authorship from the Commission's website.

read more »

Deal to Repeal N.C. 'Bathroom Bill' Hits Snag

A deal to kill North Carolina's HB2, dubbed the “bathroom bill,” was still in flux today as Republican leaders stalled action on a compromise bill, the Charlotte Observer reports. Outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory had called legislators back to the Capitol to repeal the law, which excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from antidiscrimination protections and requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates. As part of the deal to get the bill passed, the city of Charlotte had earlier repealed its transgender bathroom ordinance, which had led the state legislature to pass HB2 in the first place. Following that action, some legislators changed course, offering amendments that would essentially make it impossible for cities to pass nondiscrimination laws.

read more »

Judge Revives Nashville’s Airbnb Law

Davidson County Circuit Judge Kelvin Jones had a change of heart last week, the Tennessean reports. Jones previously had ruled that Metro Nashville’s law regulating short-term rental properties like Airbnbs was too vague to be understood by citizens and thus unconstitutional. Metro continued enforcing the law anyway, while asking Jones to stay his decision so better regulations could be written. Last week, Jones agreed with Metro attorneys that his ruling needed to be amended to only apply to Rachel and P.J. Anderson, the couple that filed suit against the rules. That means the city can enforce the law for everyone except the Andersons.

read more »

Internet Sales Tax Survives 1st Legislative Test

Gov. Bill Haslam's proposed rule requiring out-of-state Internet retailers to collect sales tax from Tennessee customers passed its first legislative test yesterday, the Times Free Press reports. Opponents, who had sought to add a “negative recommendation” to the bill, failed in that effort during the Joint Government Operations Committee session. The rule now becomes part of an omnibus bill covering proposed rules across state government. The next step will be the individual House and Senate Government Operations Committees, where opponents could try to strip the rule from the bill.

read more »

Court Seals Haslam Deposition in Rebate Scam Case

Pilot Flying J President Jimmy Haslam spent Tuesday in an all-day deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by three trucking firms that refused to join a class action settlement resolving a Pilot diesel fuel rebate scam. Haslam continued to deny any role or knowledge of the fraud to which several subordinates have confessed or are facing indictment. Attorneys for the trucking firms say Haslam insisted his testimony be sealed, but they would ask a court in Ohio to make it public, Knoxnews reports.

read more »

Legislative Panel Meets Thursday on Internet Sales Tax

A Tennessee lawmaker says it is unclear what action a legislative panel will take this week on Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed rule to require out-of-state retailers with no physical presence in the state to collect state and local sales taxes on Internet purchases. “What happens Thursday is anybody’s guess right now,” Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, told the Times Free Press. The Department of Revenue’s proposed rule would apply to out-of-state Internet retailers and catalog sellers with sales exceeding $500,000 annually. 

read more »

New 1-Click Packages Make CLE Easy

Three new CLE packages are now available through the TBA's 1-Click Program. We have gathered together the most popular CLE programs on key practice areas and are making them available for a special price. Visit the 1-Click page to find packages on Creditors Practice, General Practice, Tax Law, Transactional Law and more. New packages are always being added, so check back if you don't find the one you want.

read more »

ABA Revises ‘Model Business Corporation Act’ Book

The American Bar Association (ABA) Business Law Section has published the 2016 version of the “Model Business Corporation Act,” offering the first complete revision of the book since 1984. The model act is a free-standing business corporation statute that can be enacted in its entirety by a state legislature. It is the basis for business corporation statutes in 32 states and Washington, D.C., and the source for many provisions in the general corporation statutes of other states, according to the section.

read more »

Internet Tax Case Could Change Online Shopping

States can require Internet retailers to tell customers how much they owe in sales taxes thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that could help officials recoup billions of dollars lost to online retailers. The court declined to hear a challenge to a Colorado law requiring online sellers to notify customers and the state how much they owe in taxes. At least three other states – Louisiana, Oklahoma and Vermont – have passed similar laws. Though the court did not rule on the merits of the case, states are likely to see the move “as a green light to step up collection efforts,” WRCB TV reports

read more »

$19.5M Settlement Reached with Bristol-Myers Squibb

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, along with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs and 42 other attorneys general, announced today that Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay $19.5 million to settle claims that it engaged in unfair or deceptive trade practices when marketing Abilify, an atypical antipsychotic drug. The suit alleged that the company marketed the drug for use with children and the elderly for conditions not approved by the FDA. Tennessee will receive $399,022 from the settlement, Slatery said.

read more »

Cope to Pay $200,000 Fine for Insider Trader

Former Rutherford County attorney Jim Cope will pay a $200,000 fine and serve two years on probation, the first nine months at home, after pleading guilty to insider trading as a Pinnacle bank director. U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger handed down the sentence Friday, nearly quadrupling a fine of $55,000 Cope initially agreed to pay in a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney's office. At an earlier hearing, Trauger had said Cope should pay a greater fine given his net worth of $12 million and monthly income of $37,000. The Murfreesboro Post reports that Cope still faces potential penalties from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has filed a civil complaint, and the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which is investigating his case.

read more »

Trump to Tap Tennessee Fast Food CEO for Labor Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate restaurant chain executive Andy Puzder to be Labor Secretary, the Tennessean reports. Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns fast food restaurants Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, worked as a Trump campaign adviser and is a major critic of what he calls unnecessary federal regulations. A second story highlights five things to know about Puzder, who worked as a corporate lawyer before making his name as a turnaround specialist. Puzder recently relocated to the Nashville area and is in the process of moving the company’s headquarters to Williamson County.

read more »

Suit Claims Company Duped Tennessee Businesses

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Division of Consumer Affairs Director Cynthia Wiel filed suit today against three individuals for violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, Humphrey on the Hill reports. The government alleges that the three, who have been doing business in the state as the Division of Corporate Services or Annual Business Services, have been duping businesses into buying services by making solicitations that appear to be from the secretary of state’s office. Multiple businesses have reported receiving such communications, which offer to create an annual report of corporate meeting minutes or an “annual records statement.” Neither of these forms are legitimate or required by state officials. Any such solicitations should be reported to the Division of Consumer Affairs. 

read more »

‘Presnell on Privileges’ Also Named Top Blog

It turns out two Tennessee lawyers were named to the ABA Journal’s Top 100 Blawg listing for 2016. In addition to “Herston on Tennessee Family Law” by Knoxville lawyer K.O. Herston, Nashville litigator Todd Presnell’s blog “Presnell on Privileges” made this year’s list. Presnell's blog offers facts and analyses about rulings from federal and state courts around the country on attorney-client privilege issues. It also covers privilege-related lawsuits, legislation and op-eds. The ABA Journal has been identifying the best blogs for lawyers for the past 10 years through its ABA Blawg 100. Other law blogs from Tennessee attorneys can be found on the website

read more »

Court Tackles Vehicular Homicides, Malpractice, Liquor Store Fees

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear four East Tennessee cases, including a Claiborne County vehicular homicide case in which a lower appellate court set the admittedly guilty driver free. Another vehicular homicide case looks at whether a police officer should have sought a warrant before seeking a hospital blood draw from the defendant. The third case looks at whether a legal malpractice claim should have been dismissed for being filed too long after the alleged wrongdoing. And the fourth case explores whether the city of Morristown overcharged liquor stores with fees totaling a half-million dollars. Knoxnews reviews each case.

read more »

Future Unclear for Dodd-Frank’s Many Banking Changes

Throughout the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to rescind the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The 2010 law placed new regulations on banks and restricted the ways they can trade or speculate. It also created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, amended legal protections for corporate whistleblowers and established new guidelines for corporate governance. Trump has argued the law has allowed big banks to get bigger, while putting community banks out of business. Some legal observers question whether the act can be repealed in its entirety given its scope. Several share their observations and predictions about the act’s future with the ABA Journal.

read more »

Tax Law Updates Now Available as Online Video

A number of CLE programs on current tax law issues are now available as online video. Programming includes sessions on the Tennessee Sales and Use Tax, including a discussion of technologies that impact tax policy; repeal of the Hall Income Tax and update on the Tennessee Tax Regulation Project; tax deferred exchanges under Section 1031 of the tax code; and proposed regulations under Section 385 dealing with inversions. Register for and watch these course at the links above.

read more »

TBA Activates Disaster Legal Assistance for Wildfires

In response to the wildfire disasters in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, the TBA is partnering with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission to help those affected with their legal needs. Attorneys who want to help can access training resources and other materials on the TBA's Disaster Legal Assistance page. Legal clinics and outreach related to losses from the fires are anticipated and volunteers will be needed. For more information or to volunteer in the area, contact Kathryn Ellis at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Those who are not in the area but still want to help can volunteer to answer online questions at TN Free Legal Answers or respond to calls on the HELP4TN helpline. The TBA's Young Lawyers Division Disaster Relief Committee has also been activated and will be assisting with volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts. To volunteer, complete the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form. If you know someone in need of legal assistance, please have them call the legal helpline at 844-HELP4TN, or visit

read more »

Judge Blocks Obama Overtime Pay Rule

A federal judge today granted an emergency injunction against an Obama administration rule that would require mandatory overtime pay for more than four million workers, the Hill reports. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Texas agreed with 21 states and a coalition of business groups that the rule, which was set to take effect Dec. 1, likely contradicted Congress-passed labor laws. The rule would have doubled to $47,500 the amount a worker must earn to be exempt from overtime pay.

read more »

Judge Rejects Cope’s Insider Trading Plea Deal

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger yesterday rejected a plea deal agreed to by Murfreesboro lawyer and former Pinnacle Financial Partners board member James Cope. Trauger said the fine was too low compared to how much Cope is worth, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Under the deal, Cope was to pay a $55,000 penalty and serve two years of probation. He pleaded guilty in October to buying shares of Avenue Financial Holdings shortly before the Nashville-based bank announced its merger with Pinnacle, making more than $56,000 in the process. “What seems more appropriate to me is $200,000,” Trauger said about the penalty.

read more »

Report Looks at Trump’s International Businesses, Possible Conflicts

The Washington Post has prepared a list of President-elect Donald Trump’s global business dealings with respect to potential conflicts of interest as well as potential targets for attacks. At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, the paper reports. There is no law that specifically requires a commander in chief to remove himself from his business interests, but presidents traditionally put their assets in a “blind trust” to avoid problems. So far, Trump has refused calls to sell or turn over his business interests to an independent manager. 

read more »