News

Memphis Law Brings Counselor to Downtown Campus

Starting this week, Dr. Kim Collins with the University of Memphis Counseling Center will provide downtown counseling services to law students on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The school reports that bringing a counselor to the law school has been a multi-year collaboration among law students and administrators. Initial appointments are available by calling the counseling center at 901-678-2068.

read more »

Chattanooga Attorney Ordered to Undergo Mental Health Evaluation

After taking the witness stand and claiming “a whole lot of attorneys are out to hurt me,” Chattanooga lawyer Matthew Jack Fitzharris was deemed not competent to stand trial, the Times Free Press reports. Fitzharris was arrested in July for breaking into an elderly couple’s house and threatening to kill them. On the stand, he said an attorney tapped his phone, killed his close personal assistant, and killed the wife of a man he was representing. He also accused several Chattanooga attorneys and judges of conspiring against him. The Georgia court ordered him to complete a 90-day evaluation at a mental health facility. Until that review is finished, he will not be forced to answer any charge.

read more »

Just Breathe: ‘Journal’ Shows Ways to Combat Stresses of Lawyering

A recent study shows more damning news on how lawyers are handling the pressures of the profession – more than a third of lawyers qualified as “problem drinkers” and about a quarter reported experiencing depression, anxiety or stress. These are higher rates than documented in earlier studies and more than in other professions. This issue of the Journal looks at ways some lawyers have beat that trend through mindfulness and meditation – and how you can, too. Plus, our book review of The Anxious Lawyer gives insight into the topic. Also in this issue, TBA President Jason Long writes about the necessary and important steps to embracing diversity. Read the September issue.

read more »

Court Entities Publish Special Well-Being Report

The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility has published a special issue of its Board Notes newsletter to highlight the prevalence of substance abuse and mental health disorders among attorneys. The special issue is published in partnership with Tennessee's Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP), Board of Law Examiners and Commission on Continuing Legal Education. In an opening message, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins asks lawyers to consider the comprehensive scientific evidence of these issues as a wakeup call and call to action.

read more »

Attorney Blogger: '11 Ways Lawyers are Nuts'

“Once you’re a lawyer, being normal and mentally stable is impossible,” according to Tampa attorney and blogger Jennifer Burby. On her blog, Burby rounds up 11 ways being an attorney makes you go “irrevocably crazy,” with examples like “Conversations Become Interrogations” and “Everyone Wants Free Advice.” 

read more »

Attorney Blogger: '11 Ways Lawyers are Nuts'

“Once you’re a lawyer, being normal and mentally stable is impossible,” according to Tampa attorney and blogger Jennifer Burby. On her blog, Burby rounds up 11 ways being an attorney makes you go “irrevocably crazy,” with examples like “Conversations Become Interrogations” and “Everyone Wants Free Advice.” 

read more »

Big Law Firm Creates Gender-Neutral Maternity Leave

Winston & Strawn LLP, an international law firm based in Chicago, announced earlier this week that the firm is creating a gender-neutral parental leave policy. The Huffington Post reports the policy includes 20 weeks of paid parental leave for associates and of counsel attorneys. But Vivia Chen, a senior columnist at The American Lawyer, says the changes “fall somewhere short of the policies offered in other professions.”

read more »

Free Mental Health Screening for Law Students

It’s #MentalHealthDay, and Screening for Mental Health has partnered with the Dave Nee Foundation to provide free mental health screenings for law students. Last year, 72 percent of law students who took the screening scored positive for symptoms consistent with depression. The 3-5 min survey, shared by the ABA For Law Students, is available for a few weeks. 

read more »

Law School Debt, Anxiety Rising

Almost 70 percent of law students borrowing a hefty amount expect to graduate owing more than $120,000 in student loans, an amount that is up from 2011. A survey of 80 campuses in the annual Law School Survey of Student Engagement found that the increasing debt levels are contributing to increased stress and anxiety for law students. The survey also suggests, according to The National Law Journal (sub. req.), that minority students and those with lower LSAT scores are paying more than their white and Asian classmates and those with higher LSAT scores.

read more »

Study: Substance Abuse, Mental Health Issues Plague Attorneys

A new study sheds light on the substantial levels of problem drinking and mental health issues plaguing attorneys, according to the American Bar Association. The national study, conducted by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and reported this week in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found that rates of problem drinking increased as individuals spent more time in the legal profession. The study reports that 21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers and that 28 percent of attorneys struggle with some level of depression.

“Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming, and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that’s harming too many people,” said Patrick R. Krill, lead author of the study. In Tennessee, help is available through the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). Learn more about how TLAP can help.

read more »

Advice for Attorneys on Making and Keeping Resolutions

How can attorneys make and keep reasonable resolutions for their careers? The ABA Journal features a podcast (with transcript) with tips for making and keeping achievable goals. “The starting point often is: Where does my success come from and how can I do more of the same? You know, where did my best clients come from? Where are my best relationships?” Karen Kaplowitz, president of a business-development consulting firm, said.

read more »

Most Lawyers are Introverts, Study Finds

The majority of lawyers are introverts, according to a study, and the ABA Journal says that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Many lawyers spend a lot of time by themselves — reading, writing, thinking — compared to other jobs where the majority of the work is interacting. Introverts make good lawyers, especially for clients who want a thoughtful answer,” said Eva Wisnik, president of the firm that conducted the study.

read more »

Book Signings, Readings Set for Phillips's New Book

Chattanooga lawyer John B. Phillips  will read from his first non-legal book, A Time To Be Born: Meditations on the Birth of a Child, on Nov. 6, at the Chattanooga WorkSpace, 302 E. 6th St., beginning at 5:30 p.m. A Nov. 12 event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gallery 1401, 1478 Market St. Each meditation in the book, inspired by the births of his first two grandchildren, is based on a passage of scripture about pregnancy and childbirth and is accompanied by a piece of original art that complements and expands each meditation.

read more »

TLAP, Rules Commission Issue Updated Rosters

The Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure have released updated rosters of their governing membership. See the current lists at the links above.

read more »

Law Firms Nominated as Healthiest Employers

Three law firms have been selected as finalists for the Nashville Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers Award. Baker Donelson, Burr & Forman and Butler Snow are among 19 companies chosen by Indianapolis-based Healthiest Employers LLC. Winners will be announced during a health fair and luncheon on Aug. 18. See the full list of finalists.

read more »

Lowest Paid Lawyers Report Greatest Happiness

A new study by Florida State University law professor Lawrence S. Krieger found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as a high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost no correlation with happiness and well being. However, the study found that lawyers in public-service jobs, who typically make less money, were most likely to report being happy. The survey of 6,200 lawyers also found that lawyers in public-service jobs drank less alcohol than their higher-income peers, and despite the large gap in affluence, the two groups were equally satisfied with their lives. The New York Times’ wellness blog reports on the study.

read more »

Hooker Weighs in as Committee Considers 'Death with Dignity'

This summer, state lawmakers will gather to discuss the controversial issue of death with dignity and whether or not those with a terminal illness have the right to decide when to die. Now John Jay Hooker, who has been diagnosed with terminal melanoma, is championing this cause and fighting for the right to die with dignity. “I think if a person is suffering wants to leave this earth that the government’s got no business to tell them that they got to suffer and stay,” he told WKRN.

read more »

New Members Named to TLAP Board

New appointments to the board of the Tennessee Lawyer Assistance Program (TLAP) have been made and will take office June 1. New members are Michael G. Derrick, Dr. Roland Gray, Mark Westlake and Cynthia Wyrick. Those being reappointed for the 2015-2016 bar year are Nancy Corley, Drew McElroy and Bruce Seidner. In addition, Circuit Court Judge Rhynette Hurd is being appointed to fill a vacancy. Four members are ineligible for reappointment and are stepping down. They are Andrew Branham, Cynthia Cheatham, James Cornelius and Peter Harris. The group must still appoint a vice-chair and secretary/treasurer for the upcoming year. Access the current roster.

read more »

Profile: A Law Firm that Lets Partners be Parents

The Washington, D.C., area law firm, the Geller Law Group, is making news. The six-woman firm has a credo based on family-friendliness and flexibility. It does not even have a permanent office. A profile in the New York Times finds that the partners have a “near-evangelical determination" to prove that professionals can advance their careers while they remain fully present in their children’s lives.”

read more »

Apply for 30th Judicial District Chancellor Opening by May 26

The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for the Chancery Court judge vacancy in the 30th Judicial District, Shelby County, which was created by the death of the Hon. Oscar Carr III. Applications are due by noon CDT May 26. All qualified applicants will be interviewed in Memphis June 17.

read more »

Applications Due Friday for 3rd Mentoring Class

Applications for the TBA’s third mentoring class are being accepted through this Friday. The program will begin in February and run through December. Those interested in participating can learn more on the TBA’s mentoring website or by contacting Christy Gibson at (615) 383-7421. In related news, the first TBA Mentoring class wraps up its year this week while the second class will continue through early summer.

read more »

When Your Holiday Is a Nightmare

Although the holidays are a season of joy and celebration, they are also packed with stress and can bring on lots of anxiety. Family and financial difficulties can lead to increased alcohol consumption and/or depression that affects so many people — and in particular, lawyers — during the holidays. In his December column, TBA President Jonathan Steen gives hope and suggestions for help to anyone whose holidays are not picture-perfect, reminding readers about the life-saving services the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) offers -- free, confidential consultation, referral, intervention and crisis counseling for lawyers, judges, bar applicants and law students who are struggling with substance abuse, stress or depression.

read more »

Study: Overweight Women Lose in Labor Market

Overweight women are more likely to work in lower-paying and more physically demanding jobs; less likely to get higher-wage positions that include interaction with the public; and make less money in either case compared to average-size women and all men, according to a new Vanderbilt study. From a legal perspective, there has been a lot of discussion on whether an obese individual is considered disabled in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jennifer Shinall, assistant professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School and author of “Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty,” suggests that when it comes to discrimination lawsuits, the ADA may not be the correct avenue since obese women are actually filling strenuous physical labor jobs. “What seems to be going on in the labor market may be more of a sex discrimination issue that could be tied to Title VII,” she told Newswise.

read more »

Lawyers to Run Overnight Relay for Charity

Lawyers from Lewis Thomason’s Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis offices are participating in the Ragnar Tennessee, a 12-person overnight relay spanning roughly 200 miles that benefits Soles 4 Souls. The race begins in downtown Chattanooga on Oct. 24 at 7:30 a.m. and will require the team to run day and night, roughly 31 hours, according to the press release. The relay wraps up Oct. 25 in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame. For more information, contact Bob Chapski at (615) 259-1366.

read more »

ABA to Partner with Treatment Center in Study of Attorney Depression, Substance Abuse and Anxiety

Martha Nell discusses the American Bar Association's collaboration with Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to research depression among lawyers.  To learn more about this joint effort, please click here for more information. 

read more »