News

Banking, Estate Planning … and Someone Named Juris P. Prudence

Here's what you can expect from Tennessee Bar Journal columnists if you haven't gotten all the way through this month's issue yet. Kathryn Reed Edges looks at what the Trump Administration will mean for bankers. Eddy R. Smith explains why Tennessee is an attractive jurisdiction for establishing and maintaining trusts, and Bill Haltom writes about the introduction of a fictional character sure to steal the hearts of law-loving kids everywhere.

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Relax in the Mountains at the 14th Annual Bankruptcy Forum

Join bankruptcy practitioners from across the state at the TBA's 14th Annual Bankruptcy Forum on April 28-30 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg. Participate in small group discussions and hear presentations on recent bankruptcy case developments in the 6th Circuit and around the country.

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Nashville Law Partner Named Vice Chair for National Practice Group

Shane G. Ramsey, partner in Nelson Mullins' Nashville office, was named vice chair of the firm’s national bankruptcy and financial restructuring practice group, the Nashville Post reports. Ramsey will lead more than 30 bankruptcy lawyers in the firm’s 17 offices around the country. Ramsey joined the Nashville office last year.
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Reported Check Scam Appears in Tennessee

Tennessee attorneys should be on the lookout for an email check scam that at least one Nashville firm has reported encountering. The deception involves an overseas caller or emailer claiming to be a real person and asking about a breach of contract issue. A preliminary web search about the "client" would likely return real results, creating the appearance of validity. The North Carolina Bar Association has more information and examples of materials likely used by the scammer. The NCBA advises caution when dealing with any debt collection case initiated by an overseas “client.”
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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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

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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.

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ABA Young Lawyers Division Looking To Connect With Young Bankruptcy Attorneys

The ABA Young Lawyers Division Bankruptcy Law Committee is reaching out to state bar associations to connect young bankruptcy attorneys with their counterparts across the country and provide an opportunity for these young lawyers to gain a national presence and improve their resume. Check out the ABA YLD Bankruptcy Law Committee webpage and Letter from the Chair for more details.

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Walker Sworn In to U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Hon. Charles M. Walker was sworn in to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee today. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Marian F. Harrison administered the oath in a courtroom at the U.S. Customs House in Nashville, and Chief District Judge Kevin H. Sharp of the U.S. District Court gave remarks welcoming Walker to the court.

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Bankruptcy Court Adopts Changes to Local Rules

Local Rules for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee have been amended and will become effective Nov. 1. You can download a copy of the new rules from the court or see the redline version showing the changes.  

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Bankruptcy Court Seeks Comments on Rules Changes

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee today published proposed amendments to its local rules for public comment. The comment period will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. Comments may be made in writing to James E. Bailey III, Butler Snow LLP, 6075 Poplar Ave., Suite 500, Memphis, TN 38119 or to Michael Tabor via email at marissav@bellsouth.net.

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Services This Week for Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Stinnett

Judge Robert Thomas “Tom” Stinnett died yesterday (Aug. 23) in Chattanooga. He was 72. Stinnett graduated from the University of Tennessee and was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. After serving in Italy, he returned to attend the University of Tennessee College of Law, then clerked for his father-in-law James Parrott and the Tennessee Court of Appeals. He practiced law in Knoxville for 20 years at Stone & Hinds before being appointed a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. He relocated to Chattanooga and served there for 16 years before retiring in 2010. The family will receive friends Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Chattanooga's Mountain City Club, 729 Chestnut St. Funeral services will be Monday at 4 p.m. in Knoxville at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 544 N. Broadway. Burial will follow at the church columbarium. A time of remembrance in the church's fellowship hall will wrap up the day.

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Tennessee Leads Nation in Personal Bankruptcies

By several metrics, Tennessee’s economy is one of the nation’s healthiest, but a recent study found that it also leads in personal bankruptcy filings. Between April 2015 and March 2016, the financial website NerdWallet found that the state had a rate of 553 filings per 100,000 residents. The national median during the same period was 224 filings per 100,000. The study also found that most filings were concentrated in the Memphis and Chattanooga areas. The Nashville Business Journal has more on the findings.

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Court: Bankruptcy No Shield for GM Ignition Switch Claims

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals today struck down bankruptcy decisions that shielded General Motors from liability related to ignition switch defects, Reuters reports. The court found that a 2009 sale of the automakers’ assets, which provided the company with legal cover, violated potential victims’ rights to due process. The ruling effectively rebuffs GM’s attempts to block hundreds of customer lawsuits over faulty ignition switches that led to criminal charges and prompted the recall of 2.6 million vehicles in 2014.

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Bar Foundation to Get $8.5M from Mortgage Settlement

The Tennessee Bar Foundation is slated to receive $8.5 million as part of the settlement between Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Justice, WMC-TV reports. The funds are to be used to provide legal assistance in foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment. Eric D. Green, the independent monitor of the settlement, announced the news today. The foundation is one of 56 state-based legal-assistance organizations receiving funds under the deal, which settled legal claims arising from mortgage-related activities by Bank of America and its subsidiaries. Learn more about the settlement.

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Annual Bankruptcy Forum Kicks Off Later This Month

The 13th annual TBA Bankruptcy Forum is planned for April 29 – May 1 at the Buckberry Lodge in Gatlinburg. Speakers include four U.S. Bankruptcy judges and advanced practitioners, who will provide an in-depth look at bankruptcy case developments in the Sixth Circuit and around the country. Ten hours of CLE credit are available, including three hours of ethics.

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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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Haslam Names Dyer to Court of Criminal Appeals

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Shelby County Attorney J. Ross Dyer to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Section. His appointment will require confirmation by the Tennessee General Assembly. Dyer has been the chief counsel for Shelby County since 2014. He previously served as senior counsel and managing attorney for the Memphis office of the Tennessee Attorney General from 2004-2014. Dyer would replace Roger Page, who is now a Tennessee Supreme Court Justice. 

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Judge Rules Law Grad Can Dismiss Bar Study Loan

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge last week issued an opinion permitting a law school graduate, who failed to pass the bar exam, to discharge her $11,000 bar study loan, The National Law Journal reports. Lesley Campbell filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after making payments on the loan and sought to have the loan discharged. Citibank, the loan provider, argued the type of loan could not be discharged "absent undue hardship" and that the loan was an “educational benefit.”

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Bankruptcy Court May Be Forced to Relocate

The lease for Middle Tennessee’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court, located in Nashville’s Customs House, is set to expire at the end of April and could result in the court having to relocate. The Tennessean reports negotiations have been ongoing between landlord Customs House Associates and the U.S. General Services Administration. The landlord has reportedly said they'd like to use the space for events.

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Call For Nominations - 2016 NCBJ Next Generation Program

Nominations for the 2016 NCBJ Next Generation Program will be accepted on May 4, 2016 from noon5 p.m. EST. Participants will be selected from a lottery of qualified applicants nominated during this period.  

The Next Generation program is an important part of NCBJ’s Annual Meeting, held this year in San Francisco from October 26-29, 2016.  The program includes 40 up-and-coming bankruptcy practitioners each year. Participants engage in a judicial roundtable, providing a unique opportunity to meet with judges in a small-group setting. In addition, they are invited to a networking reception hosted by the American College of Bankruptcy, and a reception and dinner with NextGen participants from prior years. 

Qualified candidates for the NextGen program:

  • have five to 10 years of experience practicing law (including clerkships);
  • devote at least 50 percent of his/her practice to bankruptcy cases;
  • demonstrate legal excellence in the practice of bankruptcy law;
  • display a serious commitment to principles of civility, ethics and professionalism; and
  • demonstrate commitment to the continued educational development of bankruptcy professionals and to professional activities that will benefit the public, members of the bar and the court system.

Only one attorney from any single law firm or agency may participate. The costs of the participant’s attendance at the Annual Meeting must be borne by the participant, but no additional cost will be incurred to attend the Next Generation events, other than an optional dinner following the reunion reception. NCBJ registration fee waivers, as well as grants from the NCBJ Endowment to defray part of the cost are available to the first five eligible participants. 

Additional information and instructions on how to nominate a participant are available on the NCBJ website. For more information, you may also contact NCBJNextGeneration@gmail.com.

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NCBJ to Accept Nominations for Next Generation Program in May

The National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges will accept nominations for the 2016 NCBJ Next Generation Program on May 4 from noon – 5 p.m. (EST). Qualifications for candidates include five to 10 years of experience practicing law and devotion of at least 50 percent of their practice to bankruptcy cases. Only one attorney from any single law firm or agency may participate. Nomination instructions are available online.

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Ethics Programs Planned Across Tennessee

Live programs in The Business of Lawyering Series and other ethics credits programs are planned this month in Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville. The programs offer three hours of dual credit. Sessions include managing yourself and your support staff, engaging clients, ending the client relationship ethically and using social media to advertise. Online courses are also available on accounting basics, the state Department of Revenue and popular financial issues.

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AG Announces Settlement with Mortgage Lender

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced a $470 million joint state-federal settlement with HSBC, a mortgage lender and servicer. The settlement, which includes 48 other states and the District of Columbia, requires the company to provide 2,600 Tennessee borrowers with loan modifications or other relief. It also requires HSBC to change how it services mortgage loans, handles foreclosures and ensures the accuracy of information provided in federal bankruptcy court.

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Waller Acquires 13 Attorneys for its Austin Office

Thirteen lawyers from Austin, Texas, bankruptcy and civil litigation boutique firm Taube Summers Harrison Taylor Meinzer Brown joined the Austin office of Waller, Nashville Post reports. "These are battle-tested trial attorneys who have earned reputations for getting results in high-stakes and high-pressure litigation,” said Waller Chairman Matt Burnstein. The firm now has 225 attorneys in offices in Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham and Austin.