TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Jan 1, 2013

Journal Issue Date: Jan 2013

Journal Name: January 2013 - Vol. 49, No. 1

Judiciary Museum Opens at Supreme Court Celebration

Original handwritten copies of the state's three constitutions were unveiled together this morning at the new Tennessee Judiciary Museum in Nashville at a celebration attended by all five members of the current Supreme Court, three former chief justices, judges, legislators and many lawyers. Former Chief Justice Robert Cooper attended with his son, Attorney General Bob Cooper, along with former chief justices Frank Drowota and Micky Barker. Chief Justice Gary Wade, Appellate Court Clerk Michael W. Catalano, and Appeals Court judges Frank G. Clement, Patricia J. Cottrell and Andy Bennett spoke to the packed courtroom. In noting that the judicial branch is not mentioned until the fifth article of the 1796 Constitution, Wade said "we're simply the referees, and we hope we get the calls right."

The event opened the museum to the public and commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Supreme Court Building with pictures of its construction (including Nashville lawyer Ward DeWitt's father who was a construction foreman on the project) and historic events that have happened there. "We have had a lot of firsts in this building," Bennett said of proceedings such as the swearing in ceremonies of the state's first woman and African American to the high court. Read Bennett's article about the building

Read more and see photos from the event.

Comments Sought on Changes to Supreme Court Rule 31

The Tennessee Supreme Court is soliciting comments on proposed changes to Rule 31 requested by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission (ADRC). The commission filed a petition on Nov. 2 asking the court to amend Sections 11(b)(6) and (12) dealing with operations of its Grievance Committee. Written comments should be submitted by Jan. 25. Download the court order and proposed amendments from the AOC website.

Percentage of Women Associates, Partners Decrease

Although the number of women attorneys and doctors has risen significantly within the last 40 years, the percentage of female associates in law firms has fallen slightly for the third year in a row, according to the NALP. The ABA Journal reports that women make up 40.05 percent of associates, an incremental but steady decrease from 45.66 percent in 2009. The percentage of women partners decreased from 19.54 percent in 2011 to 19.91 percent in 2012. Minority women are the most dramatically underrepresented group at the partner level, comprising just 2.16 percent of law firm partners in 2012.


Women Now Constitute One-Third of Lawyers, Doctors

New figures analyzed from the U.S. Census shows that women account for a third of the nation’s lawyers and doctors. Women hold 33.5 percent of legal jobs including lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers, up from 4.9 percent in 1970. However, despite greater presence in the legal field, women still face barriers to leadership roles at firms and wage discrepancies.

2013 Law Day Theme Announced

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that the 2013 Law Day theme will be “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” The event will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the impact that the Civil Rights Movement has had on equality under law. Law Day is celebrated each year on May 1 to foster greater appreciation for the law and greater understanding of the American judicial system. For talking points, planning ideas and other resources visit the ABA's Law Day homepage.

Law Firm Associates Take Brunt of Recession

Researchers at the Memphis Business Journal reported today that Memphis-area law firm associates have taken the brunt of the recession, with the total number decreasing nearly 15 percent from 2008 to 2012. Partner numbers were stable during that same period, spiking above 400 in 2009 and 2011.

Professor: Good Time to Apply to Law School

Law school tuition is high and good jobs are hard to find after graduation, but according to journalist-turned-law professor Jonathan Glater, it may be a good time to apply to law school. In the New York Times' Dealbook blog, Glater suggests that a decline in applicants means less competition. “In every crisis, there is an opportunity,” he writes. Read more at the ABA Journal.

Judicial Vacancies Skyrocket During Obama’s 1st Term

As President Barack Obama winds down his first term in office, he is facing 83 district and circuit court judicial vacancies — almost 30 more than existed when he took office. Of the 83 vacancies, 33 are considered "judicial emergencies" because of the volume of cases per judge in those areas. Obama also has seen far fewer confirmed nominees than his two predecessors by the end of their first terms. And while the confirmation process has slowed, Obama has not put forward as many nominees as his predecessors. The Huffington Post looks at the situation.

Law Schools Worth the Money? Dean Says Yes

Stop bashing law schools! That’s the message Case Western Reserve law school dean Lawrence Mitchell gave New York Times readers this week. His op-ed piece said that much of the current criticism around a legal education has “masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.”

Legal Professionals Increasing Use of Social Media

Attorneys are increasingly utilizing Facebook and other social media sites to gain evidence for their cases due to the ease of obtaining publicly accessible personal information, the Memphis Daily News reports. Memphis lawyer Greg Grishahm with Jackson Lewis LLP cited a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case in which an employee was fired after she called in sick to work but posted photographs of herself out in a social setting. Since her page was public, Grisham notes that using information retrieved from a public domain would not be considered by a court to be “deceptive” tactics. 

11 Admitted to Supreme Court During TBA Academy

Eleven Tennessee attorneys were admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday as part of the 29th Annual TBA Academy in Washington D.C. Each year, a select group of attorneys are admitted in a special private ceremony that is part of a two-day program. Those admitted today were: John L. Farringer IV of Sherrard and Roe in Nashville; Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Ogle, Gass & Richardson in Sevierville; David Robert O'Neil of the Brentwood Police Department; Frank Barclay Thacher III of Burch, Porter, Johnson in Memphis; James K. Simms IV of Cornelius & Collins in Nashville; Christopher Jay Gilder of the Metro Nashville Police Department; Elizabeth A. Cash of Weiss, Spicer, Cash in Memphis; Elizabeth Sara Tipping of Neal & Harwell in Nashville; Shannon Goff Kukulka of Waller Landsden in Nashville; Michael McKeever Raulston of the Raulston Law Firm in Chattanooga; and Marcia McShane of Constangy Brooks & Smith in Nashville.

ABA Panel OKs New Accreditation Standards

An American Bar Association’s (ABA) committee unanimously approved a package of proposed changes in law school accreditation standards on Friday. The changes, which deal with facilities, equipment, technology, libraries and information services, will be presented to the governing council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar at a meeting set for Nov. 30. The committee chair said the proposed changes are designed to modernize standards in light of advances in technology. If the council grants preliminary approval to the changes, they will be publicly posted for notice and comment. Learn more in the ABA Journal

For an update, read http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/aba_legal_ed_sections_council_advances_law_school_accreditation_standards/

Sumner Co. Youth Court Grows by 42

New members of the Sumner County Teen Court recently were sworn in and given an oath of confidentiality by Juvenile Court Judge Barry Brown. They join 88 fellow students who are authorized to hear cases involving their peers, bringing the total number of participants to 130. The new students also participated in a mock trial to help their family members understand how the pre-trial diversion program works. Learn more in the Tennessean

Arizona Court to Allow 3Ls to Sit for the Bar

The Arizona Supreme Court has approved an experimental proposal allowing third-year law students to take the bar exam in the middle of their final year, making it the only state to allow students to take the exam before they graduate. Law school officials hope it will give students a leg up in the job market. The proposal was approved as a temporary pilot program from Jan. 2013 to Dec. 2015.  The National Law Journal has the story.