TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Jun 1, 2017

Journal Issue Date: Jun 2017

Journal Name: June 2017 - Vol. 53, No. 6


Lawyers and legal groups across the country are speaking out against the Trump administration’s plan to eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). These efforts include:

  • TBA President Jason Long wrote his May TBJ column in support of LSC funding and issued a statement: “Tennessee lawyers know how vital legal aid programs are to the fabric of our community. We will mobilize our resources and, most importantly, the voices of our members to maintain and indeed expand LSC funding.”
  • The Tennessee Bar Association is mobilized to save legal aid services by encouraging Tennessee representatives in Congress and the White House to preserve LSC funding. Learn more about the threat to LSC and show your support for vital legal aid programs via TBAImpact.
  • National advocacy groups including The Shriver Center, Pro Bono Institute and National Legal Aid & Defender Association have joined in efforts. The Shriver Center notes historic bipartisan support for LSC, and its role as a “barometer for our country’s commitment to supporting basic fairness and access to equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of one’s income.”
  • American Bar Association President Linda Klein said in a statement that the ABA was “outraged” at the budget proposal.
  • Bar associations across the state and country have shown their support for the LSC.

See other examples of the widespread support of LSC and learn more at www.tba.org/news/lsc-gains-support-across-the-bar.


TBA Limited Partnership Bill Adopted By Legislature 
The TBA’s Tennessee Uniform Limited Partnership Act (TULPA) was adopted by unanimous vote of the House in May, clearing its last legislative hurdle. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, modernizes and harmonizes provisions of the limited partnership law with other forms of business organization. The 110th General Assembly adjourned May 10 and will reconvene on Jan. 9, 2018.


Free Law Project Makes Opinions More Accessible 
The Free Law Project, a non-profit dedicated to providing free, public access to legal materials, will download all of the free opinions available on PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), Law Sites Blog reports. “These documents are a critical part of America’s legal system, and yet there is no easy and free way to access or analyze them except through expensive third-party vendors whose tools are out of reach for many people,” Free Law Project Executive Director Michael Lissner said.

SCOTUS Will Not Reinstate N.C. Voter ID Law 
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court has again declined to reinstate North Carolina’s voter ID law. The law, considered one of the strictest in the nation, was found by a lower court to have been intentionally designed to stop African Americans from voting. The appeals court said the law would “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”


Mock Trial Championship Video Available 
The video from the 2017 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition’s championship round is now available for streaming.

This year’s competition featured a showdown between two Nashville teams, the all-girls Harpeth Hall squad versus the defending champions, the all-boys Montgomery Bell Academy. MBA took home the title once again. In May, the MBA team won fourth place in the national competition, held in Hartford, Connecticut.


Tennessee Legal Leaders Tackle ATJ Issues 
Members of Tennessee’s Access to Justice community gathered in Pittsburgh in May for the 2017 Equal Justice Conference. The annual event drew more than 900 lawyers, law students and members of the judiciary, to discuss the delivery of legal services to the poor and low-income individuals in need of legal assistance.

Among those representing Tennessee were Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Access to Justice Commission Chair and TBA Past President Marcy Eason, TBA Vice-President Jason Pannu and TBA Access to Justice Chair John Farringer.

TBA Past President and current chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Buck Lewis welcomed conference attendees at the opening plenary and lead a panel discussion about new developments for ABA’s website “Free Legal Answers,” which grew out of Tennessee’s OnlineTNJustice.org.

Studies Recidivism in Tennessee High, But Improving 
Nearly half of all people released from prison will return within three years, according to data released by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) this spring. However, recidivism has gone down by 3.4 percent, from 50.5 percent in 2010 to 47.1 percent in 2016.

“These encouraging numbers demonstrate that we’re on the right track,” TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker told The Tennessean.

Study of LGBT, Disability Bias Launched  
The American Bar Association has launched a nationwide study of biases encountered by LGBT and disabled lawyers in the profession, the ABA Journal reports. The study, a part of the ABA Pathway to the Profession Project, will help develop strategies to fight biases. Statistics from the National Association for Law Placement show differences in employment for LGBT and disabled lawyers, including that LGBT attorneys are more likely to work for public interest groups rather than firms, and that lawyers with disabilities were less likely to be employed than other law graduates.


Guidance on Electronic Transmission of Client Info 
The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has issued an opinion with guidance for lawyers on enhancing confidentiality for transferring sensitive client information electronically. The guidance recommends lawyers be trained in technology and information security and encourages attorneys to take a proactive role in ensuring communications are protected, among other edicts. The new opinion adds to one issued in 1999 that discusses protecting the confidentiality of encrypted email.

Rutherford County Lawyers Form Women's Association 
Lawyers in Rutherford County have formed a new professional organization to address issues of concern to women within the legal profession. The Middle Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women (MTLAW) was organized on March 16. Magistrate Diana Benson Burns was elected the group’s first president. Any practicing attorney or law student who supports the goals of the association — which include improving the administration of justice, increasing the diversity of the bench and bar, and facilitating personal and professional networking between members — is eligible for membership.