TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Oct 1, 2013

Journal Issue Date: Oct 2013

Journal Name: October 2013 - Vol. 49, No. 10

Legal Clinics and Events Planned

October is Pro Bono Month

This month, Tennessee lawyers are joining their colleagues across the country to provide free legal services to those in need and honor the good work performed by lawyers every day as part of the annual National Pro Bono Celebration.

Now in its fifth year, the TBA’s statewide Celebrate Pro Bono initiative brings together legal services providers with local bar associations, law schools, law firms and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer.

This year nearly 400 volunteers are expected to participate in dozens of events and activities across the state that will offer assistance to more than 1,000 Tennesseans in need. Activities include legal advice clinics, education programs, public presentations and other events.

Every year, Tennessee lawyers help thousands of clients by providing free legal assistance. The month of October is an opportunity to focus attention on the significant need for pro bono services as well as a celebration of the outstanding work of those in the legal community who volunteer their services throughout the year.

Visit the TBA website for a summary of events planned for October, including opportunities for volunteers. https://www.tba.org/info/celebrate-pro-bono-month-2013

Disciplinary Enforcement Rule Gets Overhaul

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued its much-anticipated rewrite of Rule 9 on disciplinary enforcement. The overhaul is the first comprehensive reordering and revamp of the rule since the original rule was adopted in the 1970s. Many of the suggestions proffered by the TBA were adopted including new provisions that clarify a lawyer's obligations when the lawyer is no longer able to practice. Perhaps the most significant change urged by the TBA— a change to a standard of clear and convincing evidence to prove lawyer misconduct – was omitted. Read the rule here and watch TBA Today next week for more analysis of the court’s 64 page order, including new provisions for license revocation for student loan default.

Changes to Disciplinary Rule Detailed

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday adopted a comprehensive amendment overhauling the rules governing disciplinary enforcement for attorneys. As the TBA stated in its comment filed in February in response to the court’s original proposal, the changes represent “a vast improvement of the organization, architecture and clarity” of the disciplinary process. The new rule, however, does not adopt a number of provisions the TBA advocated. The court rejected the TBA’s call for use of the same heightened standard of proof (clear and convincing evidence) that is used by 40 other states as the requirement for disciplining attorneys, and it did not move to limit ex parte communications between the Board of Professional Responsibility and potential hearing panel members. Learn more about the amended Rule 9 here, and at a CLE set for Nov. 15 that will provide a guided tour of what’s new, what’s unchanged and what may continue to be controversial going forward.

Court Expands Payments to Client Protection Fund

The Tennessee Supreme Court late Friday adopted an order requiring all attorneys who practice in the state – regardless of the state in which they are licensed – to pay into the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection. The fund, which was established three decades ago, reimburses individuals for financial losses suffered after entering into an attorney-client relationship. Previously, the rule applied only to those licensed by Tennessee. Also of note, the order extends from one to three years the amount of time a client has to make a claim. The court reports that these changes will go into effect Oct. 1. Read more from the AOC.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Underused

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a new tool kit for employers to increase awareness about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the ABA Journal reports. The program forgives unpaid balances on federal direct student loans after 10 years of work for the government or nonprofits. In an interview with the New York Times, attorney Raha Wala, who works for an international human rights organization and has $200,000 in law school debt, said the program is “enabling me to do the work that I love.”

'Mockingbird' Author, Agent Settle Lawsuit

Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and literary agent Samuel Pinkus reportedly have reached an “agreement in principle” to settle a copyright suit brought by Lee. Counsel for Pinkus said a settlement had been reached and papers dismissing the case would be filed in federal court next week. No details were disclosed, The Tennessean reports. Lee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the book in 1961, has alleged that Pinkus “duped” her into signing over the copyright to his company in 2007. Pinkus assigned the copyright back to Lee in April 2012. The suit sought forfeiture of any commissions Pinkus or his company may have received since 2007.

3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair Held in Nashville

More than 60 students from law schools across the region interviewed with Tennessee law firms and government agencies during the third annual TBA Diversity Job Fair, Aug. 23-24, at the Tennessee Bar Center. The event began with a panel discussion on how to find a job in the current market and was followed by a networking reception and a full day of interviews.


Law School Conference Takes On Pro Bono Issues

Representatives from all six Tennessee law schools gathered in Knoxville today with leaders from the access to justice community for the second Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Conference, sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee. About 40 people are taking part in the program, including Supreme Court Justices Janice Holder and Sharon Lee, Access to Justice Commission Chair Buck Lewis, Commission Vice-Chair Dean Doug Blaze, and representatives from Legal Aid Dave Yoder and Chay Sengkhounmany. They are engaging in conversations about the needs, opportunity, challenges and possibilities surrounding pro bono work and related access to justice issues. Lewis, a former TBA president, delivered the keynote address, highlighting the historic collaborations that have produced outstanding developments, while issuing the clear call to action that much work still remains. TBA President Cindy Wyrick will present to the group tomorrow morning.

Court Updates Technology Provisions Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court updated Rule 26 regulating the use of recording equipment in light of technological advances. The rule outlines procedures for recording trial court proceedings and includes provisions for designating the recording as the transcript under the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. “The use of electronic recording has proven to be an exceptionally accurate and economical method of preserving the trial record and the response from litigants and lawyers in my courtroom has been universally positive,” said Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Brothers.

Reports: 'Lawyer' Not Such a Dream Job, Though Contentment Surges

According to U.S. News, being a lawyer is ranked fourth among dream jobs that are not so dreamy: lawyers have to make it through three years of law school and a “daunting” bar exam and then face a market that "is not expected to boom over the next decade.” Ironically, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that survey results from the American Lawyer magazine show a surge in contentment among junior lawyers. The magazine polled third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates at major firms on issues such as job satisfaction. The study found that junior lawyers gave their firms “the highest composite scores … in almost 10 years,” the magazine said. The ABA Journal links to other stories on the issue.

Federal Courts Cut Pay for Private Defenders

The federal courts say that private lawyers paid to act as federal public defenders will have their salaries cut as part of an attempt to survive government cost-cutting measures, the Associated Press reports. The Judicial Conference of the United States announced Monday it would reduce by $15 an hour the pay of "panel attorneys." The pay for non-capital cases will drop from $125 per hour to $110. The pay for capital cases will drop from a maximum of $179 per hour to $164. The cuts are scheduled to start in September and be in place for the next year. More than 10,000 lawyers serve as panel attorneys, representing defendants financially unable to retain counsel in federal criminal proceedings. WRCB-TV has the story.

TALS Announces Access to Justice Winners

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) today announced its 2013 Access to Justice Honorees. Award recipients include Gordon Bonnyman, founding executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, Harrison McIver III, executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services and Charity Miles Williams and Emily O’Donnell, both from Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The Access to Justice Dinner will be held Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville.