News

Member Access to Solo Practice Toolkit

The TBA offers a user-friendly guide for new solo and small firm attorneys opening their own practices. The information contained in the TBA Solo in a Box Toolkit was gathered from numerous existing TBA resources, practitioners from across the state and input from TBA Sections. Start with exploring business structures most often used for solo and small firm practice.

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Top Video Conferencing Options for Attorneys

In a blog for the ABA Journal, author Nicole Black breaks down videoconferencing tools that provide the security and encryption attorneys need. Google Hangouts and Slack both provide standard encryption, which would be sufficient for most lawyers. For lawyers who require an even more secure connection with end-to-end encryption, Black recommends GoToMeeting with Webex enabled, Skype for Business and Zoom, as well as secure messaging tools Signal and WhatsApp.
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Man Sued Over Negative Online Review Highlights SLAPP Concerns

A Florida dog owner was recently sued for a negative review posted online, highlighting concerns regarding Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits, CBS News reports. Defendant Tom Lloyd took his sick dog to DeLand Animal Hospital where he was told that the animal would need emergency surgery. Six hours later the hospital informed him that it was unable to locate a surgeon. Lloyd then took the dog to another veterinary clinic that told him it was too late for surgery and the dog would need to be euthanized. He subsequently posted the unfavorable online review in question, when the reviewed hospital and veterinarian sued him shortly thereafter for defamation, claiming his statements were "false" and "published maliciously and recklessly." This case was settled after Lloyd participated in an interview with CBS; however, similar suits have been recently filed in New York, Kansas and South Carolina. While some states, including Tennessee, have laws against SLAPP lawsuits, there are no federal laws barring the practice. Tennessee's law became effective July 1.

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Tune in to TBA Podcast Network

The Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network is home to a collection of podcasts for the Tennessee attorney. Sidebar features human interest stories from attorneys across the state. BarBuzz is a monthly rundown of TBA news and upcoming events at the local and state bar levels and HealthyBar offers tips and guidance on attorney well being. All three shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA's website. Simply search the show title or "Tennessee Bar Association" wherever you listen to podcasts. Do you have a story lead you'd like to submit for a future episode? Submit your ideas here.

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Tennessee Homeowners Receiving Text Inquiries Regarding Unlisted Homes

Tennessee homeowners have been receiving unsolicited texts asking to buy their unlisted homes, sparking concerns over privacy and fraud abuse, The Tennessean reports. While existing FTC rules say sending commercial text messages without the permission of the individual receiving the message is illegal, it has not been determined if these texts are from private investors, which may be exempt from the rules governing “commercial text messages.” Director of Communications for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Kevin Walters said that the department has not dealt with these issues in the past, but urges concerned parties to file a complaint if the sender does not verify that he or she is a licensed real estate agent.

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Better Research Support at No Additional Cost

Your TBA membership includes full access to Fastcase for your legal research needs. As your legal research ninja, Fastcase tracks recent searches and documents so you can monitor your work. Attorneys also are available to assist with research or navigating the database. Start using your member benefit now. You can contact Fastcase for support by email, using the LiveChat feature located on the Fastcase website, or by phone at 866-773-2782 to speak with a research attorney.

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Fastcase 7 New Features

A new Fastcase 7 update provides highlighting for your search terms when viewing the full text of a document. Each term is highlighted with a different color so that you can see the occurrence of each item separately. You can also turn off the highlighting function for both, and each term individually by choosing the highlight dropdown option, then selecting the ‘x’ across from the term. See this and all new features of TBA’s member benefit Fastcase 7 here.

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Federal Court: Public Officials Can't Block Critics on Twitter

A federal appeals court in Manhattan says President Trump cannot block critics from his Twitter account, calling it "unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination," NPR reports. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court's decision that found that Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked certain Twitter users, because he uses his Twitter account to conduct official business and to interact with the public. "Public officials' social media accounts are now among the most significant forums for discussion of government policy," said Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before the 2nd Circuit panel in March.
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TBA House of Delegates Seeks to Fill Open Positions

In accordance with Article 29 of the TBA Bylaws, the officers of the House of Delegates will fill 13 open positions in the House. If you would like to be considered for one of these positions, please submit a declaration of candidacy that includes your name, principal place of law practice, district of interest and contact information to TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson by July 15. Read a list of open positions here.
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Lakeway Publishers Does Not Plan to Close Community Papers Despite Bankruptcy Filing

Although Lakeway Publishers is in the midst of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring, the company says it has no intention of closing any newspapers, U.S. News reports. The company filed for bankruptcy in East Tennessee on May 31.

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Columns Address Workplace Bullying, Health Care Directives for Seniors, Author-Lawyers

If you haven't finished reading the June Tennessee Bar Journal, finish up with these pieces: Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow cover a new statute that creates immunity for workplace emotional distress claims in the column, "The Law at Work." Health care directives for seniors is the topic of Matt and Kelly Frere's regular column, "Older & Wiser," and Mary Jo Middlebrooks reviews Jocie Wurzburg's new book. In this month's Spark! we take a look at authors who are also lawyers in "A Different Kind of Legal Writing."
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Tennessee AG Participates in National Effort to Fight Illegal Robocalls

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office yesterday participated in “Operation Call it Quits,” a nationwide effort by the Federal Trade Commission and its law enforcement partners to stem the tide of illegal robocalls. “Operation Call it Quits” includes four new cases and three new settlements from the FTC. Collectively, the defendants in these cases were responsible for making more than a billion illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide. Yesterday's announcement brings the number of cases the FTC has brought against illegal robocallers and Do Not Call violators to 145. Click here to learn how to stop unwanted calls.
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Use Your Prepaid TBA CLE Credits Before Monday!

TBA members have until June 30 to use the 2018-2019 CLE credits that come with their memberships. Use the credits now to register for any TBA course taking place this summer or fall, or any online course, as long as you register by June 30. Don’t let these valuable credits go to waste! Find more information on how to use your credits, and if you haven’t done so already, remember to renew your TBA membership for the upcoming year to get more CLE credits.
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DOJ Launches Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this month introduced a new initiative that will incorporate law enforcement efforts with other federal agencies to address fraud schemes that target the elderly. The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will feature an amalgamation between the DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for six federal districts, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and several other organizations. In addition to this partnership, each U.S. Attorney’s Office will have an Elder Justice Coordinator to assist with operations. FBI Director Christopher Wray said of the strike force: “We’re committed to keeping our elderly citizens safe, whether they’re being targeted door-to-door, over the phone, or online … Our new Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will give us additional resources and tools to identify and stop those who are targeting our senior communities.”

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Full Upgrade to Fastcase 7 Coming July 22

The TBA will be upgrading to Fastcase 7 — the latest in legal research technology — on July 22. Start the transition by reviewing the helpful resource page to learn new and advanced research tools and view training videos and reference guides. Did you know that as a member benefit Fastcase also offers research assistance? Use the LiveChat feature located on the Fastcase website, email support@fastcase.com or call 866-773-2782, Option 2, to speak with a research attorney. 
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MLGW Must Rehire, Compensate Employee Fired Over Racist, Pro-Confederate Comments

A federal judge has ruled that Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division must rehire Mike Goza, the technician who was fired after a public backlash over offensive Facebook statements he made about African Americans and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Commercial Appeal reports. "Some of Goza's statements may have been insensitive, offensive, and even bigoted, but they were protected by the Constitution nonetheless," U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla wrote in the ruling, dated Friday. "MLGW thus violated Goza's First Amendment rights when it demoted and fired him." The judge ruled MLGW must also give Goza $160,000 in back pay and benefits, plus $30,000 in compensatory damages.
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Facebook Fights Class Action Privacy Suit

Insisting that millions of Facebook users lack standing to sue because they suffered no “real-world harm,” a Facebook lawyer urged the Ninth Circuit yesterday to strike down a $30 billion class action claiming facial data was harvested without user consent, Courthouse News reports. Facebook seeks to overturn U.S. District Judge James Donato’s decisions to grant class certification and deny Facebook’s motion to dismiss. The class action, first filed in 2015 and consolidated with two other cases, claims Facebook created and stored maps of users’ faces for its “Photo Tag Suggest” function without express permission and in violation a 2008 Illinois privacy law.
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SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Racial Bias Case Against Comcast

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear cable television operator Comcast Corp’s bid to throw out comedian and producer Byron Allen’s racial bias lawsuit accusing the company of discriminating against black-owned channels, Reuters reports. At the heart of the case is the question of whether individuals who are refused a business contract can sue under the civil rights law without ruling out reasons other than discrimination for the denial. The 9th Circuit said lawsuits can proceed to trial if plaintiffs can show that discriminatory intent was one factor among others in the denial of a contract.
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Visa Applicants Now Required to Submit Social Media Accounts

Visa applicants to the United States are required to submit any information about social media accounts they have used in the past five years under a State Department policy that started on Friday, The New York Times reports. The move represents a step up from a September 2017 measure in which the Homeland Security Department proposed and enacted a regulation calling for the surveillance of social media use of all immigrants, including naturalized citizens. During the Obama administration, the State Department began to ask visa applicants to voluntarily submit their social media information.
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Tennessee AG Joins Others in Calling for Amendments to Communications Decency Act

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III joined a bipartisan group of 47 attorneys general calling on Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act, which limits the liability of internet service providers for statements made by users. The "Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" and "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act" (known as FOSTA-SESTA) was signed into law in 2018, making clear that the CDA's immunity does not apply to enforcement of federal or state sex trafficking laws. The amendment proposed by the Attorneys General builds on FOSTA-SESTA to allow law enforcement against further illegal activity on online platforms such as black-market opioid sales, identity theft and election meddling.
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Conservative Talk Radio Host Must Pay $170K to Wife or Face Jail

Conservative commentator and former political candidate Steve Gill must pay his ex-wife $170,000 in 10 days or go to jail, the Tennessean reports. In a ruling entered into the court on Sunday, Judge James G. Martin sided with Kathryn B. Gill, who was seeking nearly $236,000 for various expenses related to the divorced couple's sons. The couple divorced in 2011, and Kathryn Gill wanted the court to hold Steve Gill in civil contempt for failing to make the payments. Martin found Steve Gill to be in contempt of court, after he did not appear for a hearing or send legal representation. Steve Gill, an attorney himself, said he did not receive any notices of any hearings or that the case was moving beyond the initial complaint.
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TBA to Host Inaugural Reporters Workshop

Twelve journalists from across Tennessee will gain a deeper understanding of media law issues that may affect their everyday work during the inaugural Reporters Workshop Friday and Saturday at the Tennessee Bar Center. Presented jointly by the Tennessee Bar Association, its Communications Law Section and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, the programming will include sessions on political broadcasting law, access to public records and meetings, defamation and invasion of privacy, how to cover the courts and what lawyers can and cannot tell you about their cases and why. Reporters taking part come from all major metro markets as well as Savannah, Lexington Hohenwald and other smaller communities.
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Still Time to Register for Friday's Communications Law Forum

The Communications Law Section’s annual program on Friday will focus on hot button issues related to the media and topics of interest to the communications bar at large. This year, topics will include a defamation law update, political broadcasting law, and the ethics of lawyers interacting with the media. Register now.
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Amazon Under Fire for Harvesting Children's Data

Consumer advocacy groups are drawing attention to the way Amazon treats privacy regarding its Echo Dot Kids Edition, The New York Times reports. The company markets the device as an easy way for children to interact with its voice assistant software Alexa, but the groups involved allege that Amazon additionally included data-mining software in the device that violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by gathering names, home addresses, Social Security numbers and other private information. Amazon released a statement maintaining that the product is compliant with COPPA; however, more than a dozen organizations have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on the issue.

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Your TBA Free CLE Credits Expire June 30

TBA members receive three hours of free CLE programming. Your credits expire June 30 for the current bar year. You may apply them to any available course here or donate them. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs or on any online CLE program. (The course does not have to take place by June 30.)
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