Honoring Tradition, Embracing Modernity - Articles

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Posted by: Jason Pannu on Jul 1, 2018

Journal Issue Date: Jul 2018

Journal Name: July 2018 - Vol. 54, No. 7

Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and attending law school at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, it did not ever cross my mind that I would end up practicing law in Nashville, Tennessee. When I first arrived in Nashville, I found immediately comfort and fellowship in the Tennessee Bar Association. I will always be grateful  to the people and leadership at the TBA for making me feel at home.  It is now my honor and privilege to serve as the 138th President of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Having served on the Board and Executive Committee of the TBA since 2008 (with a one-year hiatus), I had the opportunity to work firsthand under the leadership of TBA Past Presidents Buck Lewis, Gail Ashworth, Sam Elliott, Danny Van Horn, Jackie Dixon, Cindy Wyrick, Jonathan Steen, Bill Harbison, Jason Long and Lucian Pera. I hope to channel what I absorbed from these past presidents in my service to the TBA this year.  We will honor the traditions established by my predecessors and honor the traditions of our great profession. But there is no doubt that the legal profession is evolving. Accordingly, the overarching theme for the TBA this year will be “Honoring Tradition, Embracing Modernity.” Allow me to provide an update on what we have planned for TBA this year.


Our membership numbers continue to increase. However, other bar associations have not been so fortunate. Enrollment in voluntary bar associations has been declining across the country. Countless studies have suggested that the newest generation of lawyers do not place value in bar association membership. Thanks to our amazing staff and years of forward-thinking leadership, the TBA is an exception to the trend of declining membership. We cannot rest on our achievements. Our association must remain focused on the needs of our membership in this evolving legal climate. Use of technology or “embracing modernity” is the key to our future success as an association.

Sections and Committees

Sections and Committees are the lifeblood of the TBA. Some Sections are thriving and some sections are floundering. It is my goal is make sure that all of our Sections have active participation and are creating valuable content for our members. Having robust Sections goes hand in hand with attracting and retaining members. The use of modern technology can help our Sections’ leadership.

We have a large network of graduates from the TBALL program, former Young Lawyers Division members, and former Sections and Committees chairs, who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership within the TBA. We will be calling this group of lawyers to help bolster our Sections, especially in the Executive Council ranks.

Access to Justice

Access to Justice will continue to be a top priority for the TBA. With the court’s leadership and the commitment of my predecessor, Lucian Pera, we made great strides on Indigent Representation Reform this past year. But there is still much work to be done.

Addressing issues of fairness in the justice system remains a fundamental value of the TBA and for our entire profession. Tennessee is a leader in this area, so we have a strong history upon which to build. The TBA, through our Access to Justice Committee, will continue to support, promote and celebrate the work of the court, our legal service partners, and the thousands of individual attorneys who perform pro bono service. This year, the ATJ Committee will work to advance and improve existing initiatives as well as pursue new ones. In addition to continuing the work that the committee has been doing, this bar year is an opportunity to further develop our collaborative efforts with other groups within TBA and in the larger community to expand initiatives such as our law school outreach, Celebrate Pro Bono Month, the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative and further supporting the use of technology to help promote accessibility, ensure fairness and increase efficiency in our justice system.

Public Service Academy

The TBA Public Service Academy has officially launched and is now accepting applications. One of our signature projects of this year, the program encourages and enables lawyers to enter public service by running for office. So far, the response has been great. Applications are due by July 31, 2018, and we anticipate announcing the class by Sept. 4, 2018. The program will be held on two weekends that straddle the November 2018 elections: Oct. 12-13, 2018, and Nov. 9-10, 2018.

The Uniform Statewide Electronic Filing Incubator

Many of our judges and clerks across the state are forced to contend with woefully outdated technology. Obtaining court records in most counties can be extremely cumbersome for our members. It is way past time for Tennessee’s court records and court filing systems to embrace modernity. It is time for Tennessee to establish a statewide uniform electronic filing system in our state courts and digitize all court records to provide easier access to the public and our members.

There are many moving parts and many stakeholders involved in implementing an efiling system and digitizing court records. The bar must be a leader on this important initiative. We have created an “incubator” within our Evolving Legal Markets Committee to study and prepare a report on how Tennessee can implement a statewide uniform system. Why “incubator?” The term “committee” or “subcommittee” seemed stuffy and dated. This project is going to require innovative thinking. In keeping with our modernity theme for this bar year, we thought creating an “incubator” was more appropriate. (And millennials love this term!)

Pannu’s Pairings

Beaujolais is one of my favorite wine regions. While technically part of Burgundy, Beaujolais stands on its own with gamay being the dominant grape varietal. This is a light red wine that serves as a refreshing alternative to heavy reds. In fact, Beaujolais should be served slightly chilled, at about 55°F. Perfect for summer.

Beaujolais has a bad reputation on this side of the pond because of its association with the young “Beaujolais Nouveau” that is released every year on the third Thursday of November. But the 10 “Cru” appellations of Beaujolais (named after villages in this region) produce complex and terroir driven wines. My favorite Cru appellations are Morgon and Fleurie, which will be displayed prominently on the wine label. The 2015 vintage is classic Beaujolais. The 2016 vintage was devastated by hailstorms that were particularly harsh on both the Fleurie and Morgon regions. My favorite producers in Beaujolais are Jean-Louis Dutraive, Marcel Lapierre and Jean Foillard.

Food pairings: With its typical vibrant acidity, juicy berry flavor and soft tannins, Beaujolais wines are very food-friendly and pair well with a wide spectrum of food: beef, chicken, roast pork and grilled fish are all great options. Beaujolais also pairs well with those foods when you cannot think of any other pairings. Hot dogs? Beaujolais. Chinese food? Beaujolais. When in doubt? Beaujolais.

Jason Pannu stands with James Wilding, who is the winemaker / proprietor at Château Grange Cochard, in Morgon, Beaujolais, France.

Jason Pannu stands with James Wilding, who is the winemaker / proprietor at Château Grange Cochard, in Morgon, Beaujolais, France.

Legal Stakeholders Legislative Summit

We have made some significant updates to our government affairs program for this upcoming year. Other stakeholders in the legal arena have their own legislative initiatives. While we may have differences with the other organizations, we likely have more in common than we have differences. The TBA will host an informal Legal Stakeholders Legislative Summit to discuss legislative initiatives before the upcoming legislative session. Our plan is to invite representatives of the AOC, Trial Judges Association, TDLA, TTLA, PDs Conference, DAs Conference, metro bars, rural bars, TLAW, the Access to Justice community, and whoever else in the legal arena who wishes to engage in a dialogue about our respective legislative goals. While these groups are not going to agree on everything, we might find some common goals upon which we could coordinate our efforts. It would also be helpful for our respective government relations teams to know the issues of importance that impact the legal arena when asked by legislators how our various groups stand on certain issues.

Thank You

Thank you to our retired Executive Director Allan Ramsaur for your 20 years of service to the TBA. The TBA would not have achieved its current success without Allan’s excellent stewardship. To borrow a few words from Past President Buck Lewis, Allan left a proud and enduring legacy. And thank you to our Immediate Past President Lucian Pera. Lucian’s passion for bar service and commitment to the TBA this past year were incredible. Lucian’s mentorship and sage advice have been so helpful to me in preparing for this year.

A Passion for Wine

Past President Sam Elliott used this column to express his passion for Tennessee history. Past President Jackie Dixon used this column to express her passion for cooking. I always enjoyed reading Jackie’s recipes during her tenure as President. So I am going to “borrow” Jackie’s idea and include a short blurb each month about my passion: wine. My first wine love is Burgundy, but my passion extends past the legendary Côte d’Or. I hope this section, that we will call “Pannu’s Pairings,” will bring a little moment of levity while we work on the serious issues and projects we plan to tackle this year.

Thank you for putting your trust in me and allowing me to serve as president.

Jason M. Pannu JASON M. PANNU is a shareholder in the Nashville office of Lewis Thomason. You can reach him at JPannu@LewisThomason.com.