Disability Rights Tennessee Wants to Hear From You!

Disability Rights Tennessee has launched a survey aimed at gathering information from people with disabilities, family members, service providers and professionals to help shape the work of the organization.

The organization is looking for as much information as possible, so please feel free to share the survey with partners, colleagues and friends, so that an accurate picture of the needs of those with disabilities in the State of Tennessee can be compiled. Take the survey now. The deadline to respond is July 11.

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2016 Elder Law Forum Set for July 15 in Nashville

Experts at the 2016 Elder Law Forum in Nashville will share new and timely information related to perennial topics of Medicaid planning, conservatorships and special needs trusts in Tennessee. The CLE course, approved for 5.75 credits, will also feature a Vanderbilt University geriatrician who will address the unique needs of older adults. The event will be held on July 15 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the AT&T Building, 333 Commerce Street. 

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Columnists Cover Elders, Recording Employees and Coffee, Milk and Sugar

This month's Tennessee Bar Journal columnists cover a lot of ground: Monica Franklin writes about "Protecting Older Adults from Financial Exploitation: Proposed Federal Laws and Regulations." Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow explore the issues of one employee recording another's harassment in "O, That Mine Enemy Would Record Me With Her Smartphone." Humor columnist Bill Haltom handles a hot topic with a cold outcome -- a recent lawsuit involving too much ice in Starbucks coffee. The Hon. Creed McGinley reviews Haltom's new book, Milk & Sugar: The Complete Book of Seersucker. Read the review, then come to the TBA Convention on Thursday to have the book signed, following the CLE, "Seersucker and Civility: How to Dress and Behave Like a Lawyer."

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Clinton Man Files $1.25M Age Discrimination Suit

A 62-year-old Clinton resident has filed a $1.25 million age discrimination lawsuit after he was fired from an auto dealership and reportedly told that he was "too old to run the shop and turn a profit." The lawsuit alleges the termination violates the state's Human Rights Act and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Read more from the Knoxville News Sentinel

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Law Establishes Ward's Right to Communicate with Family

Gov. Bill Haslam signed yesterday into law the “Campbell Falk Act” that establishes a ward’s right to visit and communicate with family and close friends. Previously, state law allowed a conservator to restrict visitation and communication with the ward without going to court, even when it involved communication or visits by a family member. Under the Republican-sponsored measure, a conservator cannot restrict communication unless specifically authorized by the court. The law is named in recognition of country artist Glen Campbell and actor Peter Falk, according to a news release from Senate Republican Caucus.

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Court to Consider if Dementia Should Stop Execution

The execution of an Alabama inmate who had suffered strokes and dementia was delayed today, after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it wanted to review lawyers' claims that it would be unconstitutional to execute the man because he is no longer competent, WRCB-TV reports. The appellate court said it will hear oral arguments in the case this June, however, the Alabama attorney general's office responded with an emergency motion to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to let the execution proceed before the death warrant expires at midnight.

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Nursing Home Ejections Raise Legal Questions

The ABA Journal explores the legality of nursing homes ejecting patients who are considered undesirable. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program found eviction and discharge complaints have increased about 57 percent since 2000. The article highlights a California case where the family of an ousted patient appealed to the health department and won, yet the nursing home still refused to readmit the patient. 

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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News Links

Preparing for the roll-out of ABLE Accounts, Tennessee Department of Treasury ABLE Account information is on-line:  (can sign up for newsletter)

Twitter: @ABLETennessee

How 7 states - AZ, MN, NM, NY, PA, SC, TN - have advanced value-based payments through MCO contracts:

Proposed regulations for TN Dept of Intellectual Disabilities filed:   

Useful Tool on Pensions:

Elder Justice: A John A. Hartford Foundation
Change AGEnts Issue Brief
by The John A. Hartford Foundation | February 24, 2016

News Links:|article_engagement&utm_campaign=article_alert&linkId=20811233

Compiled by Pam Wright, TBA Elder Law Executive Council Member

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Practice Tips - Your Firm's Infrastructure

Infrastructure includes your law firm’s office space and other office property.

Your law firm’s office space affects not just your productivity, but also recruiting efforts, physical wellbeing and essentially the health of your business. Finally, your physical environment is at the heart of evolving your practice into an “experience business,” as described in the book Experience Economy.

Many attorneys overlook infrastructure needs when putting together their business plans because other elements seem more crucial. These activities certainly matter, of course -- you do need to define your ideal client, create a web strategy, develop a marketing plan, recruit and hire great people, document your firm’s systems and processes, and stay abreast of the latest case law. It is important to recognize that your infrastructure can either limit or enhance the effectiveness of your marketing and management efforts.

So let’s discuss this challenge and explore best practices.

Selecting the Right Office

Options here abound, including executive suites, shared spaces (which you jointly use with other firms or non-competitive businesses) and independent spaces. Here are several questions that offer insight into office site selection:

  • Should you lease or buy?
  • Should you choose a location that’s central to your community (to be near clients and prospects) or look for a site that is convenient for you and your employees?
  • What impression do you want to make on clients (and employees) when they enter your offices?
  • Your space (and overall infrastructure) shouldn’t break your budget, but it should position you for future growth. So what do you want your firm to look like in a year or five years from now? Think about targeting your overall occupancy costs to be around 8 percent of your revenue. How many people will be working for you? What kind of clients do you want to have?

Ideally, the office should be easily accessible (and easily found) by clients, safe and near to services, such as nice restaurants.

Consider visibility, particularly if you plan to use your firm’s physical presence to drive marketing. An estate planning law firm situated prominently near a popular mall could attract walk-ins; whereas, an office at the edges of Davidson County will attract people only through referrals and advertising.

Think about what your clients would want.  Although downtown is very popular with lawyers, most of our fellow Nashvillians hate to drive downtown or to pay for parking.  Consider accessibility for the elderly and handicapped, particularly if you represent elderly clients or personal injury victims.

In reality, you might need to compromise based on budget concerns or other elements. For instance, imagine you live 20 miles outside Nashville because your spouse teaches at a school system there, but most of your clients live in Nashville. Should you open an office near home to reduce commuting time or set up shop in Nashville for your clients’ convenience? Identify the elements that are most important to prioritize.

Obtaining and Maintaining Office Property

Other key elements of your infrastructure include your office property, such as computers, printers, networking setup, copiers and scanners, furniture, artwork, decorative items and tchotchkes. Your job as a business owner is to provide your employees the training and tools they need to effectively and efficiently perform their duties. Property costs money, so budget accordingly and focus on the essentials at first. Furniture and art should “be of a piece” and support the brand you’re building as well as the feeling you want to convey to prospects and employees. Styles might include hypermodern, classic and eclectic aesthetics. The better you understand your brand and your mission, the easier it will be to make choices.

Flow Through the Office

While the concept of “Feng Shui” may be overplayed, you definitely want to consider how your clients and employees will flow through the office and possibly even diagram out key design elements. When and how will the person enter the office? Where will he or she sit down to wait for an appointment? What will the experience of the office be like for your employees? Pay attention not just to the structural layout but also to ventilation, air-conditioning and the smell of the office. Maintain standards for cleanliness and care.

By mindfully attending to the seemingly mundane details of infrastructure, you will set your firm up to succeed righteously, to recruit amazing talent and to ensure grateful and satisfied clients.

My Experience

In setting up an office for Elder Law, I decided the key elements were “findability,” especially from the interstates, and handicap access.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on space at the beginning, so I opted for an arrangement in an executive suite. I found one that “felt friendly.” 

The space I found had offices that were rentable on a month-to-month basis and had a receptionist that did not answer my telephone but was present in the lobby to welcome clients during normal business hours. Conference rooms were available, but had to be scheduled. I moved into a small office, added another office as I hired a paralegal/office manager and eventually moved into an office large enough to hold a small-ish conference table. I’ve stayed within my budget and have had flexibility.

Larger firms may choose different solutions, but I believe that the questions will remain the same.

Written by Barbara Moss and Ashish Karve

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In This Issue: Retaliatory Discharge, Advanced Care Planning and Dale Bumpers

This month the Tennessee Bar Journal's employment law column by Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow covers retaliatory discharge in "Badges and Blown Whistles: Recent Retaliatory Discharge Actions in Tennessee." Monica Franklin collaborates with Dr. Gregory Phelps in her elder law column, "Advanced Care Planning: When Law and Medicine Intersect."  Humor columnist Bill Haltom writes about the late Dale Bumpers, the small-town lawyer who defended Bill Clinton before the Senate in the 1999 impeachment trial. Read these and the rest of the February issue.

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Social Media Poses a Threat to Nursing Home Patients

The Washington Post highlights the growing threat of degrading photos and videos of nursing home residents posted on social media. ProPublica identified 35 instances since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have shared images of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat and some of the posts led to criminal charges. "We have a dedicated Trust & Safety team that reviews abuse reports and takes action when they become aware of a violation, and we comply with valid legal requests from law enforcement," Snapchat said in a statement.

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Age Discrimination in Job Market Bigger Issue for Women

Recent studies from the National Bureau of Economic Research show that older workers who are unemployed are often discriminated against in their job search, according to Five Thirty Eight Economics, and that it's worse for older women than men. One of the study's authors, David Neumark, speculates that anti-discrimination laws actually make it harder to prove the discrimination for older women. Sex is a protected class in employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while age is covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, he said. "Because different laws cover different categories, those who fall into both may also have a harder time proving they’ve been discriminated against."

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Bill Would Require Vision Test for Drivers Over 76

A bill recently pre-filed for consideration in the 2016 legislative session would require Tennesseans over the age of 76 to take a vision test prior to renewal of their driver’s licenses, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The bill, which has failed in various forms in past legislative sessions, would allow applicants the option to submit a written statement from an ophthalmologist or optometrist in lieu of going through a Department of Safety test.

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Hooker Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in 'Aid-in-Dying' Case

John Jay Hooker is appealing to the state's highest court to allow his doctors to prescribe him life-ending medication without facing criminal consequences, the Tennessean reports. Hooker, who has said he is dying of cancer, says he does not have time to wait for the normal appeals process and wants the Tennessee Supreme Court to step in and take the case from the intermediate court, the Tennessee Court of Appeals. "This case involves the imminent death of a party (Hooker)," the appeal, filed Tuesday by Nashville attorneys Hal Hardin and Cynthia Chappell, reads. "A terminally ill Tennessee citizen's interest in his or her own manner of death is of utmost personal and public importance." 

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Drugs, Pro Bono and Other Legal Topics Covered in This Issue

Jason R. Smith writes in this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal about controlled drug purchases and the probable cause necessary to issue a search warrant. TBA President Bill Harbison tells about some of his pro bono heroes and -- thanks everyone who gives of their time to ensure access to justice for all. Columnist Monica Franklin covers changes in the CHOICES Group 3 Program, and Ward Phillips and Brandon Morrow write about a recent win for the Employment-at-Will doctrine. Humor columnist Bill Haltom warns about the “para-lawyers” who might be coming to a courtroom near you. Read the October issue.

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LAET Seeks Executive Director

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) seeks an executive director to lead this nonprofit law firm whose mission is to ensure justice for elderly, abused and low income individuals by providing a broad range of civil legal services. The position will be open because LAET’s longtime executive director David R. Yoder will retire Dec. 31. Deadline to apply is Sept. 11.

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Chancellor Moody to Speak at Kingsport CLE

Chancellor E.G. Moody will share his tips for local practitioners at the annual Court Square CLE in Kingsport on Sept. 9. Also joining him will be attorneys Michael Crowder and Andy Wampler, who will cover the basics of social security retirement benefits and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Friday’s Elder Law Forum

This Friday’s Elder Law Forum will connect practitioners from across the state while addressing issues such as PAE Appeals, dementia and planning for blended families. The program offers 5.75 CLE hours, program sponsors and exhibitors. Learn more or register here.

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Speakers Announced for 2015 Equal Justice University

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services has announced several national speakers for the 2015 Equal Justice University scheduled for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. This year’s featured speaker will be Ramón P. Arias, former executive director of Bay Area Legal Aid in California and a member of the Equal Justice Works board. Other presenters include Rebecca Dixon with the National Employment Law Project, Eric Carlson with Justice in Aging and Georgetown University law professor David Super. The annual conference is cosponsored by the TBA.

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Legal Aid to Launch Elder Law Program

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will launch a new Elder Law Program to help senior citizens in Cheatham, Davidson, Robertson and Sumner counties obtain free legal and educational services. The outreach is made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Memorial Foundation. Among other services offered through the program, legal aid staff will conduct seminars to educate seniors and their caretakers about their rights and responsibilities and address common legal issues faced by older Americans.

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Community Forum Explores Social Security Issues

The year’s first Community Legal Forum – a joint initiative of the Bradley County Bar Association, the Bradley Governmental Law Library Commission and the Cleveland/Bradley Public Library – will take place June 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the library. Cleveland attorney Jack Tapper will lead the session, which is free and open to the public. The program will look at the basics of processing Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claims as well as ways to increase Social Security benefits for married, divorced and widowed spouses, the Cleveland Banner reports.

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B.B. King Family Loses Battle for Control

Family members of Blues legend B.B. King lost a bid to take control of their ailing father’s affairs in a Las Vegas courtroom on Thursday. Three of King’s 11 surviving children asked the court to take control from King’s longtime business manager because they said he was stealing money and neglecting King’s medical care. The judge ruled there was no evidence to back up the claims, WRCB-TV reports.

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Hooker Weighs in as Committee Considers 'Death with Dignity'

This summer, state lawmakers will gather to discuss the controversial issue of death with dignity and whether or not those with a terminal illness have the right to decide when to die. Now John Jay Hooker, who has been diagnosed with terminal melanoma, is championing this cause and fighting for the right to die with dignity. “I think if a person is suffering wants to leave this earth that the government’s got no business to tell them that they got to suffer and stay,” he told WKRN.

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New Series for Elder and Health Law Attorneys Starts in May

A new webcast series starts May 5 and runs to the end of the month for elder law and health law attorneys. This series addresses TennCare changes, managed care delivery, intellectual disabilities and Medicaid coverage.

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