TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Dec 1, 2012

Journal Issue Date: Dec 2012

Journal Name: December 2012 - Vol. 48, No. 12

A Life Well-Lived and Documented

In his new book, Wartrace, Tenn., lawyer Allen Shoffner gives readers a taste of what it was like growing up on a local farm during the Great Depression and his work in the courtroom for more than 56 years.

“Grazing the legal landscape in Nashville for legal business had not been very productive,” he writes in The Adventures of a Tennessee Farm Boy: A Journey From the Farm to the Courtroom. “During my first full year of practice my total gross income was $600. … I was always glad to take in on my fee sacks of sausage, ham, roasting corn, turnip greens, and anything I could eat. I decided to try glazing the legal landscape in Bedford County, so I folded my tent and headed home.”

“If I don't accomplish anything else in my life,” he told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette recently, “I want to appreciate those who influenced me, taught me right from wrong, the value of hard work.”

Read more about Mr. Shoffner at http://www.t-g.com/story/1869715.html

Legal Aid, Others Snag $500,000 Grant

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and 19 victim services providers have received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Nashville Post reports. The grant will fund a three-year initiative that will allow Legal Aid Society to help more than 1,320 low-income victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. These cases impact many areas of law and society, such as domestic relations, health, housing, federal taxation, public benefits, employment and education.

Election Puts Fewer Lawyers In Senate, More In House

When the Tennessee General Assembly convenes in January, the State Senate will have eight lawyers, five fewer than the last session. The only lawyer winning in a seriously contested general election race was John Stevens (R - Huntingdon) who will take over the District 24 seat vacated by lawyer Roy Herron (D - Dresden). The 33-member body numbered 13 lawyers among its membership when the session opened in 2010. Following the early-session resignation of Jamie Woodson (R - Knoxville) and the retirement of Andy Berke (D - Chattanooga), Mike Faulk (R - Church Hill) and Joe Haynes (D - Goodlettsville), only two incumbent lawyers faced election during this cycle. Jim Kyle (D - Memphis) was unopposed in the general election, and Tim Barnes (D - Clarksville) was defeated by physician Mark Green (R - Clarksville). Nashville lawyer Phillip North made a bid for Haynes' substantially-redrawn seat, but was defeated by physician Steve Dickerson (R - Nashville).

In the State House, wins by Andrew Farmer (R - Sevierville) , Mike Carter (R - Chattanooga), William Lamberth (R - Portland) and Jeremy Durham (R - Franklin) mean that the House will have a net gain of three lawyers. Along with Vance Dennis, lawyers in the Republican Caucus will increase from two to five. Three Democrats, Craig Fitzhugh (D - Ripley), Mike Stewart (D - Nashville) and John Mark Windle (D - Livingston), round out the eight lawyers who will service in the House this session. Get full election results from the Tennessee Secretary of State.

Voters Affirm Merit Selection in High-Dollar Contests

Voters across the country rejected changes to judicial merit selection plans and gave their support to sitting justices who faced expensive ouster attempts. Ballot measures in Florida, New Hampshire, Missouri and Arizona that would have changed judicial selection procedures all went down in defeat, the Wall Street Journal reports in its Law Blog. And in Florida and Iowa, where well financed campaigns were launched to defeat sitting justices in retention elections, all survived, the Pew Center reports on its Stateline website.  In both states, lawyers and legal groups were actively involved in the campaigns.

Two other states had closely watched judicial elections. In Michigan, the GOP held on to control of the state’s Supreme Court, with Republican candidates holding on to two contested seats in partisan elections, Michigan Live reports. And in Alabama, the state’s former chief justice – Roy Moore – was returned to office, Alabama.com reports. He had been ousted from the position in 2003 after refusing to remove a monument of the 10 commandments from the state judicial building in Montgomery. You can find additional judicial election results from the National Center for State Courts.

Legal Sector Jobs Steadily Increasing

According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector has added jobs for the second straight month. The American Law Daily reports that 600 people joined the industry’s work force in October and 1,300 in September. The industry now employs 6,600 more people than it did in October 2011.

Judges: Be Careful with Facebook, Other Social Media

Although no instances have been reported in Tennessee of judges misusing their social media accounts, a recent advisory opinionfrom the Tennessee Judicial Ethics Committee seeks to head off such awkward situations before they arise. Tennessee judges who use Facebook or Myspace are being advised to choose their social media friends, well, judiciously. What you want to avoid, the committee says, is a situation like the city judge in Philadelphia who last year came under scrutiny after prosecutors learned he was Facebook friends with a drunken-driving defendant who got key parts of his case thrown out by the judge. The Commerical Appeal reports.

Memphis Law Celebrates 50th Anniversary, Announces New Pro Bono Requirement

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law celebrated its golden anniversary on Oct. 27 by honoring both the school’s history and people who have been part of that history, including former deans, professors and alumni. Additionally, interim dean William Kratzke announced the school will institute a new pro bono requirement, which makes students complete a certain amount of pro bono legal work in order to graduate. Read more in The Memphis Daily News.

Memphis Lawyer Sees Career with MALS as 'Mission Work'

The Tennessee Supreme Court asks lawyers to "aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year,” and many do that and more. In Memphis, Linda Warren Seely is there to help them make those hours count. As director of private attorney involvement for Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS), Seely coordinates pro bono work for the principal provider of civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and the elderly in the area. She tells the Memphis Daily News that  her long career in bringing pro bono help to those in need is personally rewarding and feels like “mission work.”

Applications Now Available for Summer Internship Program

The YLD also this week rolled out application materials for the 2013 Summer Judicial Internship Program, which matches first- and second-year law students with Tennessee appellate and trial judges for six or 12-week internships. More than 40 law students served with trial court judges last summer and the Membership & Law School Outreach Committee — which administers the program — is hopeful that number will grow in 2013. Applications must be received in the TBA office by Feb. 4, 2013. Learn more about the program and get application instructions. Watch for information about the program to be distributed on all Tennessee law school campuses in early November.

Mentors Needed for Diversity Program

As the YLD Diversity Committee begins preparations for the third annual Diversity Leadership Institute, it is asking attorneys across the state to volunteer to serve as mentors for law student participants. Each member of the DLI class will be assigned to an attorney mentor and will be required to interact with their mentor at least twice during the six-month program. The class will kick off in January at the TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. If you are willing to serve as a mentor please contact Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist at (901) 537-1123 or abaptist@wyattfirm.com.

342 New Lawyers Join the Profession

Tennessee lawyers will welcome 342 new colleagues to the practice of law over the next week at admission ceremonies across the state. On Monday, Nov. 5, new lawyers in Knoxville will appear before the state Supreme Court during a ceremony at 1 p.m. In Nashville, new lawyers will be sworn in on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at sessions set for 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Between the two sessions, new lawyers and their families are invited to attend an open house and luncheon at the Tennessee Bar Association offices. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the court will be in Jackson to swear in new lawyers beginning at 9 a.m. Finally, on Thursday, Nov. 8, the court will travel to Memphis to swear in new lawyers at a ceremony at 10 a.m. TBA YLD representatives will be at each ceremony to welcome their new colleagues to the profession and offer information about association membership. For details about the TBA open house in Nashville contact TBA Membership Director Kelly Stosik at kstosick@tnbar.org.

Knoxville Law School Drops Suit Against ABA

Duncan School of Law in Knoxville has dropped its federal antitrust suit against the American Bar Association (ABA) over the denial of its bid for provisional accreditation and will file a new application for provisional accreditation, according to a jointly stipulated order of dismissal filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. The ABA Journal reports that the school will also withdraw its appeal of an earlier decision from an ABA appeal panel.

LMU Law Dean Steps Down Amid Accreditation Woes

Duncan School of Law Dean Sydney Beckman has stepped down and will return to teaching amid uncertainty with the school’s latest appeal for accreditation. Knox News reports that the American Bar Association denied an appeal from the law school in July, but offered a second opportunity to appeal. The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners granted the school an extension of its provisional state approval, giving it until 2017 to earn ABA accreditation. The federal lawsuit LMU filed against the ABA alleging antitrust and due process violations has been stayed pending the outcome of the latest appeal.

Vanderbilt, Legal Aid Make News for Partnership

Many patients at Vanderbilt University’s Shade Tree Clinic are there because of chronic health conditions that are aggravated by where and how they live. In addition to medical treatment, these individuals usually need some kind of entry into the legal or court system to resolve those issues. A medical-legal partnership between the clinic and the Legal Aid Society in Nashville is helping bridge that gap. A story in the Nashville Ledger looks at the collaboration and how it is working to improve the prevention side of medical care.

Report Shows Female Lawyers Still Lag in Pay

Female attorneys continue to lag their male colleagues in salary and leadership roles at firms, a new study from the National Association of Women Lawyers found. As reported in the Boston Business Journal, the study showed that compensation for women is lower at all levels, but especially in equity partner ranks, where women earn about 89 percent of what men make.

Forum Covers Civility in Courts, Tension with Free Speech

In the second of three forums about civility — this one focused on the court — former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyle Reid said that although he is concerned about our legal system and how we choose judges, "merit selection is about as good a compromise between accountability and independence as we can get.” Reid joined two others on the panel — former Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland and Phyllis Hildreth, academic director at the Institute for Conflict Management and adjunct professor at Lipscomb University. The event was held Tuesday night at Lipscomb University in Nashville. It is part of a series looking at the tensions between free speech and civility that is being moderated by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.