News

TALS Now Accepting Nominations for Access to Justice Awards

Nominations for the 2018 Access to Justice Awards are now being accepted. Each year at TALS' Equal Justice University Conference three Access to Justice Awards are given to celebrate the outstanding work by members of the community. Nominations for the Janice M. Holder Award, the B. Riney Green Award and the New Advocate of the Year Award must be submitted to TALS by July 5. Read about the awards and the nomination process at the TALS website.
read more »

CLC Memphis to Host Theater Night Fundraiser

On June 14, the Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis will host a night at the theater in support of the organization with a performance of "Dreamgirls" at the Playhouse on the Square, presented by Gene and Carol Katz. Join the CLC for delicious food and beverages, an entertaining show and many ways to give to the Community Legal Center. Tickets are available for $45, or $100 for a VIP pass. A cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. with showtime at 8 p.m.
read more »

Law in Real Life

What are some of the most common legal issues clients need assistance with and what do you need to know to work with them? On June 25, learn from experienced practitioners from across the state who help clients navigate these areas every day. Then put your knowledge into practice: After the program you will have three months to engage in a hands-on legal clinic, with options in Middle, East and West Tennessee. Learn now and then put your expertise to work helping a legal aid organization.

read more »

2 New Vandy Law Grads Named Gideon’s Promise Fellows

Kevin Coker and Sean Dowling, two graduates from Vanderbilt Law’s class of 2018, will serve as Gideon’s Promise Fellows for the next three years. Dowling will be posted at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office and Coker will serve at the Metro Nashville Public Defender’s Office. The pair will also be a part of the organization’s three-year training program, after which they are expected to take positions as assistant public defenders. Gideon’s Promise is a national organization aimed at training and supporting public defenders to provide equal justice for marginalized communities.
read more »

ATJ Report Recognizes Collaborative Efforts to Serve Tennesseans in Need

A decade after the Tennessee Supreme Court made access to justice its top strategic priority, it has issued an extensive report recognizing the many organizations and individuals that have worked to improve access to justice in the state.“What we have learned in the past 10 years is that there is no single solution, no magic bullet to solve this issue,"  Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark said. "But, with all hands on deck, we are having an impact and are improving lives across the state.” Gail Vaughn Ashworth, chair of the commission for 2018-2020 and a past TBA President adds, “We have momentum and are really seeing access to justice issues become engrained in our state culture. The bench, the bar and our community organizations know we need to collaborate to make real progress. Tennessee is the Volunteer State and our state is also known as a nationwide leader in developing innovative programs and resources to help achieve access to justice for all.”

read more »

Tennessee Leaders Attend Equal Justice Conference

Over 20 members of the Tennessee legal community joined a record crowd at the 2018 Equal Justice Conference in San Diego this week. Those representing Tennessee include Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Access to Justice Commission liaison Justice Connie Clark, ATJ Commission Chair and past TBA President Gail Ashworth, TBA Vice President Sarah Sheppeard and TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson, as well as representatives from legal service organizations across the state. Past TBA President Buck Lewis welcomed conference attendees at the opening plenary and led a panel discussion about new developments for the ABA’s Free Legal Answers, which grew out of Online Tennessee Justice.

read more »

Bonnyman Named NLADA’s Kutak-Dodds Prize Winner

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association has named Nashville’s G. Gordon Bonnyman as the recipient of its 2018 Kutak-Dodds Civil Prize. The award honors the accomplishments of lawyers who are significantly contributing to the enhancement of human dignity and quality of life of those individuals who are unable to afford legal representation. Bonnyman was recognized primarily for his work fighting for improved access to healthcare for the poor and uninsured at the Tennessee Justice Center, of which he was a co-founder.
read more »

John Grisham Speaks on the Importance of Legal Aid in Rural Areas

Best-selling author John Grisham recently delivered the opening remarks at a Legal Services Corporation forum in Washington, D.C., speaking about the importance of legal aid to rural areas like his hometown of Southhaven, Mississippi. Medium.com reports that Grisham, who serves on the LSC Leaders Council, said “In the land of a million lawyers, there’s so many people who face eviction, disaster, loss of benefits, and more ... because they don’t have lawyers. And if we can’t protect them, we, as a society, are all diminished.”
read more »

LAS Honors 2 at Nashville Law Day Luncheon

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced the recipients of two awards to honor outstanding pro bono work. The Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year award was given to Chris Mayfield, assistant vice president of development for HCA Inc., and the Pro Bono Leadership Award was given to the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General & Reporter. Legal Aid Society Executive Director DarKenya Waller presented the awards today during the Nashville Bar Association’s annual Law Day lunch.
read more »

Ellis Honored with KBA's Law and Liberty Award

Attorney Kathryn Ellis was given the Knoxville Bar Association’s Law and Liberty Award at the organization’s annual Law Day Luncheon today. Chosen by the Barristers Executive Committee, the award is given to someone who strives to maintain good relationships between the legal profession and the community, sets an example of good citizenship, volunteers their time and expresses concern for the safeguard of personal, political, civil and religious liberties. Ellis serves as the Pro Bono Director for Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
read more »

TJC Honors Advocates for Children, Mothers at Luncheon

The Tennessee Justice Center today honored five Hall of Fame advocates during its First Annual Mother's Day Luncheon in Nashville. Among those honored at the event were the Hon. Sheila Calloway, Dr. Craig Anne Heflinger, Linda O’Neal, Russell J Overby and Rev. Kaki Friskics-Warren. For two decades, TJC has honored the strength and determination of its advocates with the Tennessee Justice Center "Mothers of the Year" Awards. This luncheon extended the recognition to those who have spent their lives championing mothers and their children.

read more »

Tennessee Lawyers Near Top in Pro Bono Work, ABA Report Shows

Attorneys in Tennessee reported performing an average of 53.1 hours of pro bono in 2016 – the second highest rate among all states taking part in a new American Bar Association survey. Supporting Justice: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of America’s Lawyers also found that just shy of 67 percent of attorneys in the state reported having done at least some pro bono in 2016, and Tennessee was a leader in the proportion of attorneys offering reduced fee services (29.9 percent). Tennessee also had the second lowest percent of attorneys who had never performed pro bono among the 24 states that participated in the survey. Results also showed that four out of five attorneys believe that pro bono services are important, although finding the time to provide free or low-cost legal services to the needy and charitable groups remains the biggest challenge for many.

read more »

Deaner Gives Keynote at 2018 Public Service Luncheon

The TBA’s 2018 Public Service Luncheon was held Saturday in Nashville, where four individuals were honored for their contributions to access to justice. Nashville Public Defender Dawn Deaner served as keynote speaker, where she said that Tennessee attorneys can change the justice system for the better. “Justice is evolutionary,” Deaner said. “It can be changed, it can be improved, and we can do that through education, through action, through determination, and through the good acts of the people that are gathered in this room.” See photos of the award winners and watch Deaner’s full address.
read more »

Tennessee Equal Justice Works Fellow Advocates for Student Loan Forgiveness

Kirsten Jacobson, a staff attorney at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and an Equal Justice Works fellow, wrote a piece in The Tennessean this week advocating for continuing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The program, which she utilized after graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law, offers student loan forgiveness to those who perform qualified public service work, including legal aid. Currently Congress is considering eliminating this program, with the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce having already approved the change. 
read more »

Texas Legal Aid Org Seeks Candidate for Nashville-based Legal Fellowship

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is seeking a fellow as part of the Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps. The two-year fellowship would begin this spring if the fellow is already licensed. The Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps is a legal fellowship program designed to increase capacity and access to civil legal help for low-income crime victims. The fellow will be supervised by TRLA and based in TRLA’s Nashville office. Please send a cover letter, resume and two references to employment@trla.org. The deadline to apply is May 1.
read more »

TBA Public Service Awards Luncheon This Saturday

The TBA's annual Public Service Luncheon will be held this Saturday at the downtown Nashville DoubleTree Hotel. The luncheon will begin promptly at 12:30 p.m. and will end before 2 p.m. This year's honorees are Daniel Horwitz, who receives the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award, Mary Michelle Gillum, who was named the Ashley Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year, and Alexa Spata, the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. A special award, the Access to Justice Champion Award, will be presented to TBA Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur, in acknowledgement of his accomplishments as a bar leader and as a leader in the access to justice community. The luncheon was originally scheduled for January, but was rescheduled due to bad weather.

read more »

Volunteers Needed for Monroe County Expungement Clinic

Vet to Vet Tennessee and the University of Tennessee College of Law will host a free expungement clinic in Madisonville on April 21 and are seeking attorney volunteers to help out. The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the First Baptist Church of Madisonville and aims to help residents in Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties. To sign up to volunteer or ask a question, contact Troy Weston.
read more »

State Remembers King on 50th Anniversary of Death

Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically killed in Memphis, events in commemoration are going on all day and all week in Memphis. Follow events on The Commercial Appeal’s live blog. TBA President Lucian Pera tweeted a call for all Tennessee lawyers to pause at 6:01 p.m., the time Dr. King was shot. Pera's challenge asked attorneys to respond to @TennessseeBar with "one thing you can personally do to help the cause of justice."
read more »

Waller Named New Director at Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has named attorney DarKenya W. Waller as its new executive director. Waller, who previously served as managing attorney of the firm’s Nashville office, replaces Gary Housepian, who served as executive director for the last decade. Waller joined Legal Aid Society in 2008 as a staff attorney and was named managing attorney of the Nashville office in 2010. “We conducted a nationwide search for the right person to replace Gary, and in the end, discovered that the best candidate was already with us," said Bob Martineau, president of Legal Aid Society’s Board of Directors. "We’re excited for Legal Aid Society to continue its mission of providing free legal assistance to low-income individuals in our community under DarKenya’s leadership."
read more »

TJC Hosting Mother’s Day Hall of Fame Luncheon

The Tennessee Justice Center has announced a new event honoring mothers and fathers who advocate on behalf of the rights of children, especially those with special needs. The TJC will host its first annual Mother’s Day Luncheon on May 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville. Single tickets are $125 and tables are $1,000. To RSVP or for more information, visit the TJC website.
read more »

LSC Gains Funding in Latest Budget Proposal

The proposed FY 2018 omnibus appropriations legislation includes $410 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), an increase of $25 million over the past two fiscal years and the highest appropriation since 2010. LSC provides the central foundation for the civil legal aid and pro bono system in the U.S. The funding increase in the omnibus legislation comes after President Trump’s earlier proposal to eliminate the LSC was abandoned following bipartisan outcry from business and politicians.

read more »

ABA President Asks AG Sessions to Keep ATJ Office Open

American Bar Association president Hilarie Bass sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the Department of Justice to keep the doors open at the Office for Access to Justice. “We urge you to make reorganization decisions that assign responsibility and provide adequate funding for the critical programs that preserve access to justice for all Americans – both rich and poor – and demonstrate the Department’s unwavering commitment to this core value and the rule of law,” Bass wrote.
read more »

Corporate Counsel Gather to Support Pro Bono Efforts

Tennessee lawyers gathered at the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala Saturday in Nashville. Over the past 12 years, the event has raised more than half a million dollars in support of pro bono efforts that engage in-house and corporate counsel with legal aid programs across the state. The program featured remarks from past TBA President Buck Lewis and Ann Pruitt, executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, as well as TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson and leaders from the TBA Access to Justice Committee. This year’s event was hosted by Bass, Berry & Sims and honored outstanding law firm and legal departments. This year, Eastman Chemical Company and Bass, Berry & Sims were honored for their pro bono efforts. See photos from the event or learn more about the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative.

read more »

Legal Aid Society to Kickoff 2018 Campaign for Equal Justice

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will host a luncheon to kickoff its annual Campaign for Equal Justice, chaired by Scott Hickman of Sherrard Roe Voigt and Harbison. The event will feature keynote speaker William C. Koch Jr., dean of the Nashville School of Law. The campaign, now in its 31st year, has a fundraising goal of $826,000 for 2018. The luncheon will be held on March 7 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Nashville City Club, 201 4th Ave N in Nashville. Those who wish to attend should RSVP to Jonathan Houghton by Monday, March 5.
read more »

Community Legal Center to Host Memphis Fundraiser

The Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis will host a bar trivia night in support of its organization March 28. Called “Quiz for a Cause,” the event will be held at Ghost River Brewing Co. from 7 to 9 p.m. The cost is $5 per person. All proceeds will benefit the CLC.
read more »