Video Will Help You Represent Persons with Disabilities - Articles

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Posted by: Journal News on Sep 1, 2012

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2012

Journal Name: September 2012 - Vol. 48, No. 9

New from the Access to Justice Commission

A short video is now available to help lawyers when they provide pro bono legal services to persons with disabilities. The project from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission,  “Providing Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities,” raises awareness and reduces the barriers that persons with disabilities face when seeking legal services. The 12-minute video provides general etiquette tips on interacting with individuals with disabilities and highlights specific examples of common scenarios that people with disabilities encounter when seeking legal services. The Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee developed the video with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Learn more from the AOC.

Watch the video at

Etiquette Tips
Keep these basics in mind when providing legal services to people with disabilities:

  1. Use person-first language (not a “disabled person,” but a “person with a disability”).
  2. Speak directly to the person with a disability, not the person with him or her.
  3. Treat adults as adults.
  4. Maintain eye contact with the client with disabilities. For instance, sit at appropriate eye-level when talking.
  5. Keep communication simple when talking with a client with a cognitive disability. Avoid legal jargon.
  6. Announce your presence (and excuse yourself when you leave) for persons with visual disabilities.

— From “Providing Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities”


‘Journal,’ YLD Judicial Internship Program Win Awards
Two Tennessee Bar Association programs were named the best in the state by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives (TNSAE) this summer. The Tennessee Bar Journal — the TBA’s flagship publication — was named best magazine for the third time by the statewide group.

In addition, the TBA Young Lawyers Division was recognized for its Judicial Internship Program, which matches Tennessee law students with trial judges across the state for summer internships.

Court Issues Draft Revision to Discipline Rule
The Tennessee Supreme Court on Aug. 8 issued a draft “comprehensive revision” and reorganization of its rule on lawyer registration and discipline. Comments on the 118-page proposal are due Feb. 8, 2013. The Tennessee Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility will review the proposal for the TBA.

Comments Sought on Judicial Disqualification Rules
The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Judicial Independence met during the annual meeting in Chicago in August and issued a draft of revised judicial disqualification rules designed to deal with the influx of cash into judicial races. Sept. 15 is the deadline for comments on the draft revisions.

AOC Announces Grants to Help Pro Se Litigants, Courtroom Technology
The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has approximately $200,000 in grant funding available for the development or continuation of initiatives that aid self-represented litigants with child support issues. The funding is made possible through the Access and Visitation Grant. To receive funding, programs must address the needs of divorced or never-married parents and focus on cases involving child support, parenting or visitation issues. Proposals must be received by Sept. 14.

Judges and court clerks are eligible to apply for some of a $100,000 grant the AOC has received to enhance courtroom technology throughout the state. The one-time funds are from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant. Applications are due on Sept. 15.

Counties Launch Veterans’ Courts
Newly established veterans’ courts in Shelby  and Montgomery counties will help veterans navigate the criminal justice system. The courts will help with issues that often arise a result of drug addictions, homelessness and other situations brought on by the ravages of untreated wartime stress.

Shelby County will provide a comprehensive approach that coordinates criminal justice processes with services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only nonviolent defendants will be referred the program, which the county will spend $60,000 a year to support.

In Clarksville, General Sessions Judge Ken Goble first brought the court to order in July, telling one early participant, “This is for those who have sacrificed and are now in a bad place. This is a chance to get you off the road you’re on.”

Follow the TBA
More than 2,000 people now get regular updates on news from the Tennessee legal community by following the Tennessee Bar Association on Twitter. You can also watch for regular updates on the TBA's Facebook page or sign up to join the Tennessee Bar Association group on LinkedIn.

Job Prospects for Bilingual Lawyers Good
Lawyers who speak a second language are a hot commodity, though the jobs they are snagging are usually temporary, according to the ABA Journal. Patent and automotive litigation are improving the employment picture for lawyers who speak Asian languages. Also popular are lawyers who can help translate language for deals and documents in emerging economies such as Brazil and India.

Tennessee Legal History Interviews Now Available to Public
The Tennessee Bar Foundation’s collection of videotaped interviews with prominent Tennessee lawyers and judges is now available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The collection consists of 76 interviews — a virtual “Who’s Who” of the 20th century legal profession in Tennessee, including Howard Baker, Adolpho Birch, Wyeth Chandler, Martha Craig Daughtrey, Lewis Donelson, Joe Duncan, Benjamin Hooks, Irvin Kilcrease, Gilbert Merritt, James Neal, Paul Summers, Thomas Wiseman and many others. See them at

TBA Report: More Lawyers Running for Legislature
A report compiled by the Tennessee Bar Association shows that while the number of lawyers serving in the legislature has declined over the last several years, more lawyers are candidates for the General Assembly this year than in the last two election cycles. The report shows that 25 lawyers ran for 20 seats in the primaries. It remains to be seen whether, with the retirement of several lawyer lawmakers, the actual number of lawyers in the General Assembly will increase. See a full list of candidates online, with links to learn more about their campaigns.

Survey: Public Doesn’t Recognize Plight of Courts
The American Bar Association Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System, after two years of study, has found that lawyers face serious challenges in educating the public about the dangers of the current court funding crisis. The group’s findings show that the public does not fully recognize the financial plight facing state courts and does not have great confidence in their state court systems. Pollsters involved with the survey suggested that court supporters focus on messages involving the financial stewardship of the courts, the importance of preserving access to justice and how delayed justice costs victims and taxpayers alike.

Balkwill Is UPL?Chair, Gresham Added to TBALL

Page 6 of the August Tennessee Bar Journal lists incorrectly the section for which Nashville attorney Kevin Balkwill is chair. He is chair of the TBA’s Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) Committee. Also, since that publication, a co-chair has been named to lead with Mary Dohner Smith of Nashville on the Leadership Law Committee. Smith will serve with Memphis lawyer Darryl Gresham.