News

UT Pro Bono Members Set New Record

Members of the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Pro Bono program performed more than 10,000 hours of pro bono legal service over the last year for charitable and nonprofit organizations. This year's hours surpassed last year’s record of 8,764. 

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Indigent Representation Task Force Holds Hearing in Knoxville

The state Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force wrapped up its East Tennessee public hearings today in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee College of Law with more than 50 people attending. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee joined the meeting, where public defenders from the region and members of the private bar presented to the task force. UT Law Professor Joy Radice also referenced the studies on compensation rates by the TBA. 

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Indigent Representation Task Force Meets in Johnson City

More than two dozen people attended the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force listening tour stop today in Johnson City at the campus of East Tennessee State University. Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee was joined with task force Chair William C. Koch Jr. and task force members Dwight Tarwater and Susan L. Kay. The listening tour continues tomorrow in Knoxville. 

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WTLS Seeks Staff Attorneys

West Tennessee Legal Services has immediate openings for attorneys in Huntington, Selmer, Dyersburg and Jackson. The attorneys will represent victims of domestic and sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in civil protection order and divorce cases, and provide legal advocacy on behalf of victims in various forums. License to practice law in Tennessee required and litigation experience on behalf of domestic violence and/or sexual assault victims and prior work with specialized client populations and/or ethnic or language distinct communities preferred. Send cover letter, resume, writing sample and references to: Hiring Committee, West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc., P.O. Box 2066, Jackson, TN  38302 or email sandy@wtls.org. Deadline for submission is June 6.

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Lewis, Sanchez Detail National Online Legal Resource at Equal Justice Conference

Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis was presented the American Bar Association’s William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award in recognition of his commitment to developing, improving and promoting Online Tennessee Justice and his support for the national expansion to ABA Free Legal Answers.

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Justice Index Ranks Tennessee in Top 10

Tennessee was ranked towards the top in the recently published Justice Index 2016 that provided a snapshot view of the national and state-by-state commitment to providing access to the civil and criminal courts for some of the most vulnerable populations. The index, compiled by the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School, includes Language Access and Self-Represented indexes. 

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Lewis Recognized with ABA Award for Online Pro Bono Project

Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis received the American Bar Association’s William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award in recognition of his commitment to developing, improving and promoting Online Tennessee Justice, and his support for the national expansion to ABA Free Legal Answers. Lewis is a shareholder in the Memphis office of Baker Donelson. The annual award was presented last week in Chicago.

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Indigent Representation Task Force to Visit East Tennessee

The Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force will take its listening tour to East Tennessee next week, making stops in Johnson City and Knoxville. If you wish to speak on the topic of indigent defense, submit your intentions through the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Johnson City session will be held May 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. at East Tennessee State University’s Culp Center Auditorium. The tour will be in Knoxville on May 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Tennessee College of Law, Room 132.

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Washington County Public Defenders Relocate

The Washington County Public Defender’s Office has moved to 1102 Sunset Drive in North Johnson City. Johnson City Press reports the office’s landlines are not completely installed, but Public Defender Jeff Kelly said those who need the office may call 423-434-6845 and they will be given the cell phone number of an attorney. 

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Williamson County Public Defenders Limit New Cases

Assistant public defenders in Williamson County have stopped accepting some new cases due to case overload, The Tennessean reports. "We’re not refusing all cases, we're just telling the judge each day we’re in court, 'as of right now I cannot accept this case,'" said 21st District Public Defender Vanessa Bryan. But District Attorney Kim Helper is challenging the case refusals, and said she plans to file a formal objection next week that will ask the public defender to provide more evidence of the overwhelming caseloads. Indigent cases have been handed over to private attorneys, which Helper said is costing taxpayers. 

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Memphis Attorney Named MALS Director of Advocacy

Philip Oliphant was named Director of Advocacy for Memphis Area Legal Services. He previously worked as a litigator for the last nine years in the Memphis City Attorney’s office. Oliphant also served as chief of staff for Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice Donald in 2011.  

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Charlie McDaniel Named LAET Director of Operations

Legal Aid of East Tennessee named Charlie McDaniel as director of operations for its nine offices across the Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Johnson City areas, the Hamilton County Herald reports. The areas include two Family Justice Centers and a Medical-Legal Partnership with Erlanger Health System. McDaniel serves on the Pro Bono Committee of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, as well as the TBA’s Access to Justice Committee. He is also an associate member of the Justices Ray L. Brock Jr. and Robert E. Cooper American Inn of Court. 

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Indigent Representation Task Force Kicks Off Listening Tour

The Indigent Representation Task Force's statewide listening tour began yesterday in Memphis and continued today in Trenton, located in Gibson County. In Memphis, Shelby County Chief Defender Stephen C. Bush and Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law Dean Peter Letsou spoke to the panel. Private lawyers shared their issues and experiences as they are faced with the cap on compensation with juvenile cases. The next stops on the task force's listening tour are May 19 in Johnson City and May 20 in Knoxville. If you would like to speak at the upcoming hearings, you may sign up online or email Brenda Gadd, TBA Public Policy Coordinator. 

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Indigent Task Force Changes Venues for Thursday's Memphis Stop

The location for the Indigent Representation Task Force's statewide listening tour stop tomorrow in Memphis has been moved to the Vasco Smith Building, Shelby County Commission's Chambers, 1st floor, located at 160 North Main. The task force’s next stop is planned for Friday in Trenton. View a full listening tour schedule

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Jackson Attorney Wright Honored as Top Influential Woman

Jackson attorney Pam Ford Wright was recently honored with the Sterling Award as one of West Tennessee’s 20 Most Influential Women. She received the award for her focus on improving access to health services, elder care and caregiver support while working as a public interest attorney. Wright, owner of the Wright Law Firm PLLC and member of the TBA Elder Law Section Executive Council, was an attorney with West Tennessee Legal Services for many years.

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Education Program for Pro Se Litigants in Coffee County

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands launched a new education program with the Coffee County General Sessions Court to support pro se litigants. A Legal Aid Society staff member from the Tullahoma office will provide a free, monthly presentation to self represented litigants while the General Sessions Court is in recess from its civil docket. The program will begin by focusing on detainer actions and may expand to include presentations for other case types. The Legal Aid Society representative will provide educational materials, explain court procedures and clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.  

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Indigent Task Force Listening Tour to Begin in West Tennessee

The Indigent Representation Task Force announced the first two stops on its statewide listening tour will be next week in West Tennessee. The first tour stop is planned for April 28, 3-6 p.m. in Memphis at the Criminal Justice Center Auditorium. The next day (April 29), the task force will hold a session from 3-6 p.m. in Trenton at The Chancery Building. View other scheduled tour stops and more information

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LSC to Launch 'Legal Portals'

The Legal Services Corp. (LSC) will develop online “legal portals” to help people who need civil legal help find the most appropriate forms of assistance, the ABA Journal reports. In an announcement today, LSC said Microsoft will provide at least $1 million and provide technical support for the project, which will begin with pilot portals in one or two states, according to a press release. States will be invited to compete for the opportunity to develop the pilot portals.

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Updated Dates for Indigent Task Force Tour

The state Supreme Court's Indigent Representation Task Force announced a statewide hearing tour on Friday. Some dates have been changed on the TBA website since Friday. 

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OTJ Celebrates 5 Years of Free Legal Advice

Online TN Justice celebrates five years of service today. The first question was posted to the site April 14, 2011. Since then, OTJ has answered over 11,000 questions received, and more than 500 Tennessee attorneys have registered to volunteer. The site has become the model for the national site, ABA Free Legal Answers. In March 2015, OTJ reached its highest monthly total of questions posted at 250. More information, as well registration to volunteer with OTJ, is available online.   

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Legal Community Promotes Access to Expungements

Sen. Steven Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Rep. Harold M. Love Jr., D-Nashville, along with leaders in the judicial and legal communities, today announced an initiative to improve awareness of and access to expungements in Tennessee. Under the initiative, a webpage has been launched to provide details on eligibility for expungements, links to local information and resources to help people get started. The initiative will include training for judges and court clerks as well as providing resources for them and the legal community.

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Tapas for Justice Set for April 21 in Nashville

Tapas for Justice, an event to benefit Justice For Our Neighbors, is planned for April 21, 5:30 p.m., at Bone McAllester Norton, 511 Union Ave. Suite #1600 in Nashville. Contributions may be given online to RSVP. The cost is $100 to host, $200 per couple and a $50 suggested contribution to attend.

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TBA Earns Top National Award for MLP Program

INDIANAPOLIS, April 7, 2016 — The TBA today received the 2016 ABA Outstanding Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

The Award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the  formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group.

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TBA Earns Top Pro Bono Award for Medical-Leadership Partnership

The TBA today received a Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group. Past TBA President Jonathan Steen and MLP Working Group Chair Charlie McDaniel today accepted the award during the annual MLP Summit, this year held in Indianapolis. 

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PBI Founder Esther F. Lardent Dies

The Pro Bono Institute announced its founder, Esther F. Lardent, has died. Lardent established the PBI in 1996 as a nonprofit organization to administer the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, a peer-to-peer effort she launched to increase the amount of pro bono services to individuals of limited means and organizations serving them. There are now 137 law firm signatories to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® and 145 law department signatories to the initiative.

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