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Posted by: Stephanie Vonnahme on Aug 26, 2019

Top 10 Young Lawyer Resources

 
Having trouble with the basics of getting started as a new lawyer in TN? The Young Lawyers Division has put together the top 10 websites and frequently asked questions for where to go when you need answers. 
 
1.  What advice do you have for new attorneys practicing in multiple counties? 
New attorneys should become familiar with the local rules of any judicial district in which they take cases. These rules may be viewed at the following link: https://www.tncourts.gov/courts/court-rules2/local-rules-practice.  New attorneys should also contact the court clerk’s office as there may be additional rules besides those included on the Tennessee State Courts website.  These rules are important to ensure you provide quality legal representation and establish a good rapport with the court. New attorneys should become familiar with the location of the courts in the various judicial districts. An interactive map of the judicial districts is available at the following link: https://www.tncourts.gov/administration/judicial-resources/judicial-district-map. You can contact the court clerk to ensure you have the correct address prior to any court date. 
 
2.  What should I do if I have a question regarding ethics that I am unable to answer? 
You should contact the Board of Professional Responsibility at (615) 361-7500. It is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Tennessee that offers formal ethics opinions and responds to informal ethics inquiries. Further, if you call during normal business hours, you may have the opportunity to speak with an attorney regarding your ethics question.
3.  What fees do I have to pay to ensure I remain in good standing? 
You must pay an annual registration fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility as required by Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 9, Sections 10.1 and 10.2.  The annual fee is one hundred seventy dollars ($170), and it is due before the first day of the attorney’s birth month. Example: if your birthday is on March 18, then you must pay your annual fee prior to March 1.  You may pay this fee online at: https://my.tbpr.org/.  
You must also pay the professional privilege tax as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-1702.  Currently, this fee is four hundred dollars ($400) per year.  It is due June 1 of each year. You may contact the Tennessee Department of Revenue with any questions regarding this tax.  State law requires that the payments be made electronically.  
 
4.  How many CLE hours do I need?  
During the first year you are licensed, attorneys do not need continuing legal education hours—passing the bar exam satisfies this requirement. After the first year, attorneys must obtain fifteen (15) hours of CLE per calendar year.  Three (3) of these hours must be categorized as ethics/professionalism or “dual” hours. Note that your “first year” after the bar exam is calendar year; so, if you pass the bar exam in October 2019, you do not need CLE hours until 2020.  You may review Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 21, Section 4.06 for more information.
The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education maintains a secure area on its website for attorneys to log in and review their CLE credits, search for accredited courses, pay fees, and more.  Hours may be carried forward to cover CLE requirements for the following calendar year.  Be sure to review the FAQ page for the commission if you have any questions.
 
5.  I’m planning to move soon.  Is there anything I should be aware of? 
Pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 9, Section 10.1, you are required to notify the Board of Professional Responsibility within thirty (30) days if you change your home or office address.  You may do so by logging into your account on the BPR website and updating your information or delivering a signed notice that includes the prior address, new address, and effective date of the change.  Also, be sure to notify the courts and/or administrative agencies where you have cases pending that your address has changed.
 
6.  I’m having some personal issues, and I’m not sure where to turn.  Are there any resources for attorneys in Tennessee?  
Yes, the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) was established by the Tennessee Supreme Court.  It provides services on a confidential basis to help attorneys with any number of issues such as stress and burnout, grief and loss, anxiety, depression and suicide, anger management, and more.  There is no fee for TLAP services, which include consultations, assessments, support groups, interventions and more.  
 
7.  In the course of my practice, I hold client or third-party funds.  Are there any special requirements related to such?  
Yes, attorneys who hold such funds in pooled trust or escrow checking accounts must enroll in the Tennessee IOLTA program.   Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8 and Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 describe this requirement.  Further, Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 43 describes the operation of IOLTA accounts.  Be sure to check the list to ensure any financial institution that you consider is eligible. You are required to disclose the location of your trust accounts annually when you register with the Board of Professional Responsibility. 
 
8. How do I get involved in pro bono work?
Tennessee has a robust group of nonprofit organizations that provide legal services.  You will find many options to get involved in the legal community . Pro bono work is an excellent way to contribute to the community as an attorney while networking and improving your legal skills.
 
9. I think I would benefit from having a mentor.  Are there any mentoring programs in Tennessee for lawyers? 
The TBA has an excellent mentoring program.  If you’re interested, apply to be a mentee .  
 
10.  I’m interested in taking court appointed cases. What would you recommend?  
Besides becoming familiar with judges and attorneys in the judicial district who are involved in the types of cases you would like to take, you should be aware of certain rules.  Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13 covers appointments, qualifications, and compensation of counsel for indigent defendants.  Also, here is an overview of the Indigent Defense Program. The new AOC Claims and Payment (ACAP) system is how you will track your claims for payment, so you want to be sure to request access to ACAP by emailing acap@tncourts.gov.  
 
For all other questions- If you are a recent law school graduate preparing to take the Tennessee bar exam or a new Tennessee attorney in your first five years of practice, the TBA YLD New Attorney Liaison may be able to provide you with support and guidance. This service is intended for new Tennessee attorneys to obtain guidance on practical matters, request assistance finding a local mentor, or find answers to everyday issues related to the practice of law.