News

High Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law to Take Effect

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order at 5 a.m. Saturday allowing Texas’ voter ID law to take effect for early voting beginning today. In her dissent Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, said the law’s procedures are “the strictest regime in the country.” The law “likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote. Texas won’t accept photo IDs from an in-state four-year college, from a federally recognized Indian tribe, or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Those without the required ID can obtain an “election identification certificate” from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which generally requires a certified birth certificate. The ABA Journal has this roundup on the story. The Supreme Court took an opposite tack on Oct. 9 when it refused to allow a Wisconsin voter ID law to take effect after early voting had begun. However, both orders were consistent with the principle that courts should not change the rules close to an election.

read more »

LAET Gets Grant for Domestic Violence Victims, Names Campaign Chairs

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) has received a $500,000, three-year grant to expand assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual assault and human trafficking. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. The funding allows LAET to provide comprehensive civil legal services, including legal advocacy, education and direct representation. Three attorneys and two paralegals will work directly under this grant to help about 1,000 East Tennessee clients over a three-year period. In other news, LAET announced the Knoxville volunteer leadership for its 2014 Annual Campaign for Equal Justice. Ian P. Hennessey of London Amburn and John E. Winters of Kramer Rayson LLP will serve as campaign co-chairmen, leading LAET’s Central Region campaign. The goal for the effort is $175,000. The campaign, which runs through Dec. 31, is currently at $67,619 or 38.6% of goal.

read more »

Legal Aid, Nashville YLD Host Clinic

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands and the Nashville Bar Association YLD are co-sponsoring a legal clinic at Casa Azafran Friday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. The clinic is hosted the third Friday of every month and walk-in clients are welcome. Volunteers should contact Lucinda Smith for more information. See a list of all events taking place around the state this month as part of Celebrate Pro Bono.

read more »

Greene County Clinic Makes Debut Friday

The Greene County Bar Association with the help of Legal Aid of East Tennessee will hold its first Free Legal Advice Clinic at the Greene County Courthouse on Friday. The clinic will run from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information or to volunteer contact Joseph McAfee, (423) 972-4391.

read more »

Lipscomb Sponsors Free Legal Clinic in Nashville

The Institute for Law, Justice and Society at Lipscomb University is hosting a free legal clinic Oct. 21 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. N., Nashville 37209. Volunteers are still needed for this event. For more information, contact Randy Spivey, (615) 966-2503.

read more »

MALS Fundraiser Features Local Restaurants

Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) will hold “A Taste on the Square” Oct. 15 in the Tower Courtyard of Overton Square, 2120 Madison Ave. in Memphis. The event will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and feature food and drinks from Overton Square restaurants. Tickets are $20 per person at the door. All proceeds will benefit MALS’ legal aid work. The event is sponsored by, among others, Douglass & Runger Attorneys at Law and Counsel on Call.

read more »

Clinic, Free CLE Offered in Memphis Saturday

Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) will hold a legal clinic this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library at 3030 Poplar Ave. Clinic co-sponsors include the Memphis Bar Association, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs and the legal department at International Paper. Following the clinic there will be a free CLE on working with clients and caregivers dealing with dementia. In exchange for the free credit, attendees must agree to handle a pro bono case or work at a legal clinic. For more information about either of these events contact Linda Seely. Learn about other Celebrate Pro Bono events across the state.

read more »

Celebrate Pro Bono Month Activities Continue Across State

Volunteers are still needed for the veteran's legal clinic at Operation Stand Down (OSD) this Saturday in Knoxville at the National Guard Armory, 3330 Sutherland Avenue. OSD Tennessee provides a wide-range of free support service for honorably discharged vets and their families. Lawyers and law students will work together to provide free legal assistance to clients on a variety of civil legal issues. Contact Brad Morgan for more information at rmorgan2@utk.edu. Learn about other Celebrate Pro Bono events.

read more »

Margaret Behm to Lead LAS Fundraising Campaign

Attorney Margaret Behm will serve as the 2015 campaign chair of the Campaign for Equal Justice, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced today. The campaign is an annual initiative that raises money for the Legal Aid Society, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm. Behm is a principal at Dodson, Parker, Behm and Capparella PC in Nashville.

read more »

SBA Opens Temporary Office for Flood Loan Applicants

The U.S. Small Business Administration will open a temporary Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Memphis following widespread flooding in the area on Sept. 11, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The center will be open for a week, beginning Wednesday, at the Shelby County Equal Opportunity Compliance office. Businesses and nonprofits of any size can borrow up to $2 million at interest rates as low as 2.6 percent to repair or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets, the release said. Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace real estate, while homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. The filing deadline for property damage is Nov. 24, while the deadline for economic injury applications is June 24, 2015.

read more »

Article Details Alexander Hamilton and Pro Bono

To commemorate "Celebrate Pro Bono Month" in the October Tennessee Bar Journal, Russell Fowler details Alexander Hamilton's upbringing and career. Hamilton is the first known American lawyer who performed pro bono on a wide and systematic scale -- he was a pro bono rock star! Also in this issue, Nashville lawyer James G. Thomas reviews Joel Cohen's book Blindfolds Off: Judges on How They Decide.

read more »

2014 Celebrate Pro Bono Month Now Underway

Celebrate Pro Bono Month 2014 is in full swing. Now in its sixth year, the initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This year's celebration is expected to involve more than 300 volunteers – including lawyers, law students, paralegals and language interpreters – in dozens of events and activities across the state. Information about events will be updated and promoted throughout the month. Find an event near you.

read more »

Steen Urges Commitment to Pro Bono From Law Students

TBA President Jonathan Steen encouraged law students to make a commitment to pro bono and public interest work during the Pro Bono and Public Interest Law School Summit this weekend in Memphis. The Jackson attorney spoke about the significance of making an intentional commitment to pro bono and public interest work, even as students and young lawyers. The conference was hosted by the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, the TBA’s Access to Justice Committee and the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. Focus of this year’s event was on encouraging conversation and planning about the needs, opportunities, challenges and possibilities surrounding pro bono work and related access to justice issues. See photos and read more from the conference.

read more »

2014 Celebrate Pro Bono Month Kicks Off Wednesday

Every year, Tennessee lawyers help thousands of clients by providing free legal advice. This assistance is especially celebrated and emphasized throughout the month of October as part of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Initiative. Now in its sixth year, the initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer.

This year's celebration is expected to involve more than 300 volunteers – including lawyers, law students, paralegals and language interpreters – in dozens of events and activities across the state. Information about events will be updated and promoted throughout the month.

read more »

Volunteer Lawyers Needed for Immigrant Children

Most of the nearly 60,000 Central American children who have arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border in the last year still do not have lawyers to represent them in immigration court, and advocates are scrambling to train volunteer attorneys to help with the massive caseload, the Associated Press reports. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, among others, is training private attorneys on the country’s immigration laws and how to work with traumatized, Spanish-speaking children. The Times Free Press has the story.

read more »

Law Students Gather in Memphis to Learn Value of Pro Bono Work

Third Annual Summit Highlights Opportunities for Partnership

TBA President Jonathan Steen spoke to a group of law students and faculty about the significance of making an intentional commitment to pro bono and public interest work, even as students and young lawyers. He noted that involvement with the access to justice community is “an incredibly meaningful way to enter our profession” and encouraged the students to find opportunities that are both satisfying and can help with practical skills.

read more »

Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala Set for March 7

The TBA Access to Justice Committee, in partnership with the TBA Corporate Counsel Section and the Tennessee Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, will host the Ninth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala March 7 at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. Law firms, corporations and individuals are invited to support the event by becoming sponsors or purchasing tickets. Presentation of the 2015 Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative (CCPBI) awards – which recognize the Tennessee law firm and corporate legal department that best exemplify a commitment to access to justice – also will take place at the event. Nominations for the awards are being accepted through Nov. 14. CCPBI engages corporate counsel and in-house lawyers in pro bono work. Since the inception of the program, more than $425,000 has been raised and distributed to organizations across the state that connect corporate lawyers to local pro bono projects.

read more »

Canadian Organization Offers Free Legal Information

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) is blazing the way in free legal information by offering the largest free legal database in the country, the ABA Journal reports. The concept for CanLII came about at a time when digital legal information was sparse and rarely available to the general public. The Canadian legal establishment worried that this information would be too rare or too expensive and wanted it to be free. To keep more than 1 million primary law materials free for the more than 10 million visitors expected to the site this year, the 14 legal societies in the Federation of Law Societies of Canada built relationships with courts all over the country at both the provincial and federal levels to get access to caselaw, statutes and regulations. 

read more »

ABA Holds Conference Call on ATJ Initiatives

The ABA is holding a free telephonic roundtable Wednesday at noon Central to discuss how states can bring together various stakeholders – including the judiciary and courts, legal aid and the organized bar – to address access to justice challenges. The discussion will be led by the ABA’s Access to Justice and Children's Rights Litigation committees. Harrison McIver with Memphis Area Legal Services also will address the group. Register online to join the call.

read more »

Legal Aid Conference Highlights Work of Judiciary

A three-day conference this week celebrating the Legal Service Corporation’s 40th anniversary brought out dignitaries such as Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but most of the gratitude went to state judges who are leading the way in efforts to increase public funding for unmet legal needs, the ABA Journal reports. Among the sessions offered was one led by New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who interviewed justices from nine state supreme courts. The jurists shared how they are working to increase public funding and find other ways to stem the crisis of unmet legal needs.

read more »

Grant Will Fund ‘Know Your Rights’ Training for Immigrants

The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center/Immigrant Rights Project has received a grant of $8,830 from GiVE 365, The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis’ dollar-a-day philanthropy program. The group will partner with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Memphis Immigration Advocates to provide compressive “Know Your Rights” training to immigrant communities in Memphis. Formed in 2010, GiVE 365 members donate $365 a year, pool their money, and vote on the annual grant recipients. A total of $62,600 was given this year to support collaborative nonprofit efforts, the Memphis Daily News reports.

read more »

LAET Chattanooga Wins $10,000 in Geo Adventure Race

The Chattanooga office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) won the second place $10,000 prize at the “The Greater Race” last Saturday morning in downtown Chattanooga in celebration of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga’s 50th anniversary. The foundation selected 25 Chattanooga non-profits it has funded in the past to take part in the geo adventure race. Each of the selected organizations supplied a team of four racers on bicycles and two additional volunteers.

read more »

Legal Aid Office to Reopen in Cleveland

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will celebrate the grand reopening of its Bradley County office tomorrow at noon. The new office is located at 166 North Ocoee, directly across from the Bradley County Courthouse. Thursday’s celebration will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by tours of the new office. Local dignitaries, United Way leadership, judges, members of the Bradley County Bar Association, and a representative from Gov. Haslam’s office are expected to attend. “In 2010, LAET’s budget was devastated by deep cuts in our federal appropriation, and we were forced to close our Cleveland office,” Russell Fowler, associate director for LAET’s Southern Region said in a press release. “But civil legal needs for low-income Bradley Countians have continued to increase. United Way recognized those needs and worked to form a partnership with LAET. The reopening of the Cleveland office is due in large part to that partnership.”

read more »

Barker Kicks Off LAET Fundraising Campaign

Former Tennessee Chief Justice William M. “Muecke” Barker, of counsel with the firm of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC, was the keynote speaker at Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s (LAET) Southern Region Annual Campaign Kick Off Breakfast in Chattanooga today. Barker reviewed the history of the court’s access to justice initiatives and addressed the funding challenges faced by legal aid programs. He called on individual lawyers and law firms to support LAET’s fundraising campaign and pro bono programs in Chattanooga. Those wishing to donate may do so online or by sending a check to LAET, 502 Gay St., Ste 404, Knoxville, TN 37902.

read more »

Steen Launches Medical-Legal Partnerships Initiative

TBA President Jonathan Steen launched plans for developing Medical-Legal Partnerships – a key 2014 TBA initiative – during an Equal Justice University (EJU) luncheon yesterday in Murfreesboro. The Partnerships will engage professionals from both fields to create more comprehensive and responsive healthcare teams. To help support their development, the TBA has formed a Medical Legal Partnership Working Group. Nearly 250 lawyers, law students and other advocates were at the annual conference for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community, which is hosted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and co-sponsored by the TBA. Along with Steen's address, the event featured the presentation of the annual Access to Justice Awards, continuing education and opportunities for networking through task force meetings and social functions. Other speakers at the 2014 EJU included retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder, civil rights leader Diane Nash and former TBA President Buck Lewis, who received the inaugural award named in Justice Holder’s honor. See photos and learn more about the event.

read more »