Don't Forget: Winter CLE Blast Tomorrow!

Need CLE hours fast? We can help! The annual Winter CLE Blast is less than a day away. With this program, you can complete up to 11 hours of Dual CLE credit on your own time. Our registration desk will be open from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 21, providing you the flexibility to create your own schedule and take as many or as few hours as you need. Payment will be determined at checkout depending on the number of hours you attend. 


  • Flexible to your schedule
  • Up to 11 Hours of CLE
  • Ethics Credits
  • Compliance CLE
  • Live Credit Hours

When: Feb. 21, registration begins at 7 a.m., CST

Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 4th Ave N., Nashville, TN 37219


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Lawsuit Alleges Non-lawyers at LegalZoom Performed Legal Work

A complaint filed yesterday in California alleges that online legal resource LegalZoom engaged in the “unauthorized practice of law, false advertising, unfair competition and other claims with respect to preparation and filing of trademark applications,” the ABA Journal reports. The state bars of Arizona, California and Texas are also named as defendants. The complaint alleges that when the plaintiffs applied for two trademarks through the service, LegalZoom utilized non-lawyer “trademark document specialists” to provide legal advice by “selecting classification and modifying the goods and services description from the template thereby applying specific law to facts.” 
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Traffic Ticket App Startup Sues Florida Bar for Antitrust Violations

A Florida startup that matches lawyers to drivers who’ve received traffic tickets is suing the Florida Bar and a law firm for allegedly launching a “coordinated attack” to kill its business, the ABA Journal reports. Mobile app developer TIKD Services filed suit in federal court against the Florida Bar and a competitor called The Ticket Clinic. The Florida Bar began investigating TIKD 10 months ago, probing into whether the company was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, and issued an informal opinion about it. Additionally The Ticket Clinic filed ethics complaints against attorneys who worked with TIKD customers, according to the lawsuit.
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Family of Woodmore Bus Crash Victim Suing Funeral Home, Law Firm

The family of one of the children killed in the Woodmore Elementary bus crash last year is suing a Chattanooga funeral home as well as an out-of-state law firm, NewsChannel 9 reports. Mother LeTesha Denise Jones claims that the Taylor Funeral Home locked her in a room with a man claiming to be an attorney, and was not let out of the room until she agreed to sign a representation agreement. The family later learned that the man, Alphonso McClendon, was not a licensed attorney.
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Knox Lawyer Disbarred for Practicing Law While Suspended

Knoxville lawyer Steven E. Sams was disbarred on Aug. 5 for practicing law while suspended. Sams was suspended on Sept. 12, 2013, for failing to respond to an ethics complaint. Following that suspension, he contacted the surviving heirs of a deceased acquaintance, represented to them that he was a licensed attorney and offered to serve as administrator of their mother’s estate. Read the BPR notice.

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AG Sues Paralegal for Alleged Fake Court Order

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has filed suit against Knoxville paralegal Jonathan Trotter, and a judge has ordered that Trotter turn over his files and his Facebook posts, Knoxnews reports. The state alleges that Trotter began advertising legal services on Facebook after he completed a 17-week paralegal certificate program, and that he forged a court order and a judge’s signature after being paid $800 to help a client gain custody of her grandson.

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AG Files Suit Against Paralegal for False Advertising

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Knoxville paralegal Jonathon Trotter, who falsely advertised his ability to provide legal advice, legal services and notary services to Tennessee consumers on Facebook. The suit is seeking a temporary injunction ordering Trotter to immediately stop providing legal advice and services to consumers. 

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CBA President: Unauthorized Practice of Law a Danger to Public

Chattanooga Bar Association President Paul Hatcher warns of the danger of the unauthorized practice of law in a Hamilton County Herald column. Hatcher cites his disagreement with a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed in which the author praised non-licensed paralegal services and criticized bar associations and state attorneys general for bringing suits against unauthorized practitioners. “Our law license assures Tennessee consumers that we have a basic level of training and competence as required by the State of Tennessee, and that we have access to the courts,” Hatcher states. “That license is a valuable asset to us as lawyers, but it is valuable to the public as well.”

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New Approach Suggested as LegalZoom Expands

After earning a legal victory in South Carolina and fending off all but one of eight other lawsuits, LegalZoom “is poised to significantly broaden the range of services it offers consumers and small businesses,” the ABA Journal reports. Expect to see a continuum of products and services, from simple forms to full-fledged legal advice, the Journal says. The developments are leading some to argue that the profession should stop trying to shut down these services and instead focus on how best to regulate them.

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LegalZoom Hits Hurdle in North Carolina

LegalZoom was probably still celebrating the South Carolina Supreme Court’s approval of its business model when a North Carolina judge breathed continued life into a case claiming the company engages in the unauthorized practice of law, reports LawSites Blog. According to the post, a special judge dismissed two counts in LegalZoom’s lawsuit against the North Carolina State Bar, in which the company alleged that the bar’s efforts to shut it down violated anti-monopoly and equal protection clauses of the state constitution. The court deferred ruling on the bar’s claim that LegalZoom is engaged in unauthorized practice, concluding that a more extensive factual record is required to understand how LegalZoom prepares complex documents for customers.

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S.C. Court Rejects UPL Claim Against LegalZoom

The South Carolina Supreme Court has approved LegalZoom’s business practices on the basis that they mirror other self-help services offered by various state and local agencies, the ABA Journal reports. The court found that since documents offered by the company do not provide legal advice, and since the company itself does not provide legal assistance in the creation of the documents, it is not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The company operates in all 50 states and has faced claims of unauthorized practice of law elsewhere. It is currently fighting a challenge in North Carolina.

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April Issue Covers UPL, Postjudgment Interest and Sex Week

"Protecting the legal profession is only our secondary goal," Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick writes in her Journal column this month where she takes on the war against unauthorized practice of law. "We are fighting this battle primarily to protect the public."  Also in this issue, the second-to-last column written by the late Don Paine is about postjudgment interest, and Bill Haltom writes what's on many Volunteers' minds about the legislature, Sex Week and free speech at UT.

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Man Accused of Pretending to be an Attorney

A Nashville couple had no doubt that they were working with a real attorney when they hired Greg Pillow to handle a medical malpractice suit, but suspicion arose when he called saying the case was settled. A look into Pillow’s past found a lengthy criminal history including a 2008 conviction of pretending to be an EMT and accusations of posing as a fire fighter. The State Board of Professional Responsibility has no record of Pillow having a law license and the office address he gave clients is invalid. Although he did not take any money for services, the couple says his scam caused “plenty of frustration.” Pillow did not respond to Fox 17’s phone calls for comment.

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Free Domestic Violence Training for Lawyers, Advocates

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is offering a statewide legal advocacy training session Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tennessee Health Management in Antioch. Robin Kimbrough, legal counsel for the group, will conduct the training for lawyers and advocates. Topics will include the basics of civil and criminal law in cases of domestic and sexual violence, the role of advocates and attorneys, tips on avoiding the unauthorized practice of law, and benefits for immigrant victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking. The training is free but reservations are requested. Learn more or register here.

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Nashville ‘Notario Publico’ Shut Down

For 17 years, Martha Salazar operated a business in South Nashville where thousands of Hispanics had immigration papers and other legal documents prepared. This week, Davidson County Judge Amanda McClendon ordered that Salazar pay back customers, pay $4,000 in attorney’s fees and pay $6,000 in civil penalties. So-called “notarios publico” provide low-cost legal assistance, often in immigrant communities. But according to state law, they must post that their services are not provided by a licensed attorney. State officials are asking consumers who have used Salazar’s services to contact the attorney general’s office at (615) 741-1671. Claims for reimbursements must be filed within the next six months. The Tennessean has more

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ABA Ethics Panel Seeks Comments on UPL Issue

While finalizing resolutions to be presented to the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates in August, the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 continues to grapple with the issue of how technology impacts the unauthorized practice of law. The panel is seeking input about how technology, which now allows lawyers to practice in a jurisdiction without physically being present, affects Rule 5.5 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Download a white paper on the issue or read more in the ABA Journal. Comments should be submitted to Natalie Vera at no later than July 31. 

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Disbarred Attorney Ordered to Pay Restitution

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Binkley Jr. has ordered former Nashville attorney Michael H. Sneed to pay more than $18,000 in restitution to clients he represented while suspended and disbarred. Binkley also set of deadline of July 6 for affected clients to seek reimbursement. Sneed was suspended in February 2009 and then disbarred in early 2010. For approximately 18 months during that time he continued to represent clients. Binkley also directed Sneed to pay the state $154,000 in civil penalties.

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Dealing With the Unauthorized Practice of Law in Tennessee

How does the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee work with attorneys and the public in protecting consumers from the unauthorized practice of law? Former Committee Chair Sean Lewis provides the answers.

State Files UPL Suit in Consumer Protection Effort

The state has filed suit against a woman alleged to be engaging in legal services without a license, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper and Commerce and Insurance Division of Consumer Affairs Director Gary Cordell announced today. Martha Salazar, doing business as Comunidad Hispana on Nolensville Road in Nashville, is named in the lawsuit, alleging she is providing legal services without being licensed as an attorney.

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