How to Participate in the Tennessee Appellate Pro Bono Pilot Program - Articles

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Posted by: Lynn Pointer on Apr 23, 2012

In January 2011, the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) and Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) launched the Tennessee Appellate Pro Bono Pilot Program, a pilot initiative that provides pro bono representation to litigants appearing in the Tennessee appellate courts who otherwise could not afford counsel. 

The Tennessee Appellate Pro Bono Pilot Program has three primary goals:

·      To improve access to justice for low-income litigants in Tennessee’s appellate courts by establishing a qualified panel of appellate attorneys to provide pro bono representation on appeal;

·      To provide increased opportunities for attorneys with appellate practice expertise to use their skills to serve clients who could not otherwise afford representation; and

·      To provide an opportunity for senior appellate attorneys to mentor and supervise young lawyers seeking appellate practice experience through pro bono representation.

The program will also provide pro bono attorneys to assist (or co-counsel with) public interest lawyers who are primary counsel in cases on appeal.  Criteria for case selection include a significant novel or unsettled question of law, error in the trial court that may have implications outside of the individual case, a current split of authority, or a possible precedent-setting decision coupled with the financial need of the party.  All applicants to the program must not otherwise be able to afford appellate counsel.

The program will maintain a network of volunteer attorneys to whom cases may be referred. When a case is selected for pro bono representation, the screening committee will immediately send notice to the designated panel of appellate attorneys with a request for response within a short time period.  When an attorney responds that she is able to accept the case, the client and the trial attorney will be notified and representation will begin. 

HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE:  Do you have experience litigating in the Tennessee Supreme Court or Courts of Appeals?  Do you want to enhance or develop your appellate litigation skills with the mentorship of experienced appellate attorneys?  Join us in kicking off the Tennessee Appellate Pro Bono Pilot Program.  A volunteer participation form is attached.