News

ABA President Reflects on Year in Office

In an interview with the Memphis Business Journal, ABA President William Hubbard says he has used his year in office to try to modernize the profession, lower costs, break down barriers and encourage attorneys to rethink the way legal services are delivered. “There’s this latent market for legal service … people who are less fortunate … people in the middle class and the moderate income class ... If you have that gap you have to ask yourself, maybe our model needs reform. Maybe we need a new delivery mechanism." One solution he points to is Online TN Justice, a virtual legal clinic that was developed by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the TBA. The ABA plans to roll out a nationwide version of the program soon.

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ABA President Pushes Online Models for Civil Disputes

The president of the American Bar Association told Tennessee lawyers that the traditional method of providing pro bono legal services in civil matters isn’t working, the Memphis Daily News reports. “People are migrating en masse to these online services,” William C. Hubbard told a group of 200 attorneys and judges Thursday at the Tennessee Bar Association’s annual meeting in Memphis. “We need to make sure we don’t have perhaps two justice systems that operate independently – one totally online and totally unregulated and one highly regulated but not innovative enough. We need to synthesize those two systems.”

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Task Force Proposes Reforms for Legal Education Financing

A report released today by an American Bar Association presidential task force calls for enhanced law student debt counseling, wider collection and publication of law school financial data and innovation at law schools to lower costs for students while maintaining sound educational programs. The report of the ABA Task Force on Financing Legal Education notes that tuition hikes are slowing and that tuition discounting, largely through merit-based grants and scholarships, is widespread and growing.

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ABA Seeks Comments on Externship, LSAT Rules

An American Bar Association (ABA) panel voted over the weekend to accept public comments on a proposal allowing law students to draw both pay and academic credit for externships. The ABA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on July 16 and again on July 30, the National Law Journal reports. Under current rules, students are barred from receiving both pay and credit. The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar also submitted for public comment a proposal to alter a rule that allows schools to admit certain students who have not taken the Law School Admission Test.

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Committee Wants Applicants to Take LSAT

An American Bar Association committee is recommending the elimination of a rule that allows most law schools to fill up to 10 percent of their entering classes with students who haven’t taken the Law School Admission Test. Barring that, the committee is proposing to make the rule applicable to all schools, the ABA Journal reports. The rule, approved last year by the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, currently applies only to students enrolled in undergraduate programs at the same university as the law school and/or students pursuing another degree in addition to their JD.

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TBA Leaders in DC for ‘ABA Day’

TBA President Jonathan Steen, President-elect Bill Harbison, YLD President Rachel Moses and Executive Director Allan Ramsaur are in the nation’s capital this week as part of the ABA Day legislative effort. The group will be meeting with Tennessee legislators as well as learning about issues of importance to the legal profession. The Tennessee participants join other leaders from national, state and local bar associations across the country. Learn more about the effort in the ABA Journal.

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ABA Urges Corporations to Fight Labor Trafficking

The ABA called on Fortune 500 companies this week to help eradicate human rights abuses by adopting and implementing anti-human trafficking policies consistent with its Model Business and Supplier Principles. The group also unveiled a new database to assist companies in this effort. In a letter to CEOs and general counsels, ABA President William C. Hubbard reiterated the need: an estimated 21 million people are subjected to forced labor around the world and 168 million children are in situations of child labor. Read more from group.

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ABA Group Wants Detailed Reporting on Law School Attrition

Law schools would be required to provide more detailed information about student attrition rates under a proposed change requested by an ABA committee, the ABA Journal reports. Under a resolution approved this week by the committee, law schools would be required to break down their numbers based on students’ LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages. Currently, schools only disclose the overall number and percentage of students that fail, transfer to another school or drop out for non-academic reasons. The committee says more detailed reporting is necessary to promote greater transparency and provide greater consumer protection for law school applicants.

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ABA Midyear Meeting Opens in Houston

Immigration, access to justice for persons of modest means and money’s influence on elections are just some of the issues that will be tackled by attendees in hearings and panel programs during the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting. The meeting runs through Monday when the 560-member House of Delegates, which sets policy for the ABA, convenes. The Tennessee Bar Association with support from Tennessee law schools will host a reception in Houston Saturday for former TBA president Danny Van Horn. View the invitiation here

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ABA Releases Opinion on Prosecutors’ Ethical Duties

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility today released Formal Opinion 467, which deals with the managerial and supervisory obligations of prosecutors under Model Ethics Rules 5.1 and 5.3. The opinion finds that (1) prosecutors with managerial authority must adopt reasonable policies and procedures to ensure all lawyers and non-lawyers in their office conform to model rules, (2) prosecutors with direct supervisory authority must make reasonable efforts to ensure all lawyers and non-lawyers they supervise conform to the rules, and (3) prosecutors with both managerial and supervisory authority may be required to fulfill both sets of obligations.

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New ABA President Calls for Innovation in Delivery of Legal Services

South Carolina lawyer William C. Hubbard accepted the gavel as the new president of the ABA and urged lawyers to join him in his signature effort: closing the legal services delivery gap for the poor. Hubbard outlined several ways to accomplish that goal, including connecting lawyers, judges and academics with technology innovators who are spending millions of dollars on finding new ways of providing legal services. “We must marry this creativity with our own justice system to provide greater access while protecting the public,” he said. He also noted that several specific issues “clamor for our attention and rational evidence-based solutions.” These include a criminal justice system that is breaking down fiscally, the continued imprisonment of low-level offenders, the number of mentally ill in prison, the need for more pro bono representation for domestic violence victims, and the balance between privacy and security. Read more about Hubbard’s goals for the year in the ABA Journal.

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ABA House of Delegates Acts on Range of Issues

The ABA Annual Meeting continued yesterday with a number of actions by the group’s House of Delegates. The body approved new standards and procedural rules to be used in the accreditation process for U.S. law schools and adopted resolutions urging:

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TBA Reception Honors Harrison McIver

The TBA will host a reception in honor of Memphis lawyer Harrison D. McIver on Saturday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. The Tennessee Reception is made possible through the generous support of the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. McIver is executive director and CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services.

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ABA Meeting Kicks Off Friday in Boston

The ABA Annual Meeting kicks off tomorrow in Boston. Among the programs planned are a keynote address by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, screening of “The Case Against 8” and a presentation by David Boies and Theodore B. Olson on marriage equality, and a keynote speech by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts. The House of Delegates will meet Monday and Tuesday and consider a number of policy resolutions. At the conclusion of the meeting outgoing president James R. Silkenat of New York will hand the gavel to his successor William C. Hubbard of South Carolina. The ABA Journal provides an overview of the meeting.

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Roberts to Launch Magna Carta Celebration at Annual Meeting

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts will launch the ABA's yearlong, 800th anniversary commemoration of the Magna Carta during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston this week. In his address to the House of Delegates, Roberts will talk about the historical and current significance of the document sealed by King John of England in 1215 in response to demands by landowning barons. A traveling exhibit curated by the Library of Congress, “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015,” will be unveiled at the meeting and then move to cities around the country. Its travel will culminate with the ABA's London Sessions next June in England. The ABA Journal has more.

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Judge Donald to Receive ABA Pickering Award

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice Donald will receive the American Bar Association’s 2014 John H. Pickering Award of Achievement during the group’s Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Donald, a native of Mississippi, worked for Memphis Area Legal Services and the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office before being elected the first female African-American judge in Tennessee. She later moved from General Sessions court to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. District Court for western Tennessee. She was appointed to her current position in 2010. In nominating Donald, California attorney Pauline Weaver wrote, “Judge Donald represents the best of the profession. She has consistently demonstrated the kind of integrity, legal ability, access to justice and public service that would make John Pickering proud.”

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Chief Justice Roberts to Give Keynote at ABA Annual Meeting

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will be keynote speaker to the ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates during the group's Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Roberts will talk about the historical and present-day significance of the Magna Carta, kicking off the ABA’s commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the document in 1215. The ABA journal has more.

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Memphis Lawyer Honored with Public Service Award

Harrison D. McIver II, executive director/CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services, has been chosen to receive the 2014 Dorsey Award in recognition of exceptional work by a public defender or legal aid adviser. The American Bar Association established the award in honor of the late Charles H. Dorsey Jr., long-time executive director of Maryland's Legal Aid Bureau, and a champion of the poor and underprivileged. The award will be presented at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston this August.

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Help Celebrate the Magna Carta's 800th Anniversary

In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, the ABA is planning a range of events to promote the historical and contemporary relevance of the document, including new publications, a London meeting for lawyers and a tour of Runnymede. In addition, the ABA is partnering with the Library of Congress to create a traveling and stationary exhibit. The traveling exhibit will launch in August and will travel across the country to law schools, courthouses, public libraries and other venues. Educational and commemorative events also are planned. Lawyers can get involved by helping to refurbish the ABA Memorial at Runnymede, promoting awareness of the charter and supporting events that mark the anniversary.

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ABA President Addresses Attorney-Client Privilege

American Bar Association President James R. Silkenat responded to a letter from National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander by saying, the ABA "looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the NSA to ensure that American lawyers and their clients have confidence that their privileged communications are appropriately protected." The exchange follows the ABA’s Feb. 20 questioning of the agency’s policies to protect the attorney-client privilege in the course of its intelligence mission.

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TBA Executive Honored at ABA Event

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives. See photos from the event at the link above.

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TBA Executive Honored for ABA Activities

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives.

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ABA Accepting Nominations for Appointments

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced it is accepting applications and nominations for 2014-2015 Presidential Appointments to ABA standing committees, special committees, commissions and other entities and initiatives. The online application process opened this week and is available until Feb. 28.

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Former TBA President Ashworth Honored at Reception

Attorneys from across the country joined their Tennessee colleagues at a reception honoring former TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth during the recent ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The event was hosted by the Tennessee Bar Association with generous support from the University of Tennessee College of Law, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School and Belmont University College of Law. See photos from the event.

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YLD Brings Home Awards from ABA Meeting

The TBA YLD was recognized for a number of programs and activities at the ABA YLD Annual Meeting this past weekend in San Francisco. The YLD was awarded first place in the Minority Project category for its new invited guest program, which seeks to include the broadest range of perspectives and experiences on its governing board by inviting representatives from all specialty and minority bars in the state to attend meetings and participate in decision-making. It also received special recognition for its annual Mock Trial Competition and its overall member service and public service initiatives. Read more in a message from YLD President David McDowell.

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