TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Apr 24, 2019

Journal Issue Date: May 2019

TBA Delegation Visits Capitol Hill for Lobbying Event

A delegation of eight lawyers from Tennessee met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., in April for “ABA Day on the Hill.” U.S. Rep. David Kustoff met with TBA President Jason Pannu, President-elect Sarah Sheppeard and other members of the group. They also met with Reps. Scott DesJarlais, Steve Cohen and Tim Burchett, and Senators Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander. Main topics were increased funding for the Legal Services Corporation and maintaining the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Agathos Classical School Tops in Mock Trial for Second Year

Students from Harpeth Hall, dressed for their roles of witnesses, await the final round in the State High School Mock Trial Championship in Nashville. Photos by Mindy Thomas.

Maury County’s Agathos Classical School again claimed the championship title at the Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition March in Nashville for the second year in a row. Agathos sent two teams to the state competition this year, and its “Team G” was the winning squad. Harpeth Hall of Nashville met Agathos in the final round and took home the second place trophy.

Agathos qualifies to compete at the National High School Mock Trial Competition May 16-18 in Athens, Georgia.

Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark presided over the final round. Jason Whatley and Cori Ricci were the attorney coaches for the winning team. Christy Crider was the attorney coach for Harpeth Hall.
The competition, which is hosted by the TBA Young Lawyers Division, brings together 14 teams from across the state. Murfreesboro lawyer Rob Sands is chair of the YLD’s Mock Trial Committee, and Knoxville lawyer  Kati Sanford Goodner is vice chair.

This year’s qualifying schools were Agathos Classical School, Beech High School, Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Home School Association, Coffee County Central High School, Dobyns-Bennett High School, Farragut High School, Harpeth Hall, Jefferson County High School, Signal Mountain High School, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, University School of Nashville and Westminster Academy.

Members of the Agathos Classical School’s team celebrate with Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark, who judged the final round.


Edwards to Lead TBA in 2021

Sherie Edwards of Brentwood was elected vice president of the Tennessee Bar Association. She will ascend to president-elect in 2020 and lead the organization as president for the 2021-2022 bar year.

Edwards is vice president of corporate and legal for State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company in Brentwood and has been involved with the TBA for a long time. She served as treasurer from 2012 to 2017, membership chair from 2017 to 2019 and was a section chair from 2005 to 2007 and again in 2011– 2012. She is a member of the Access to Justice Committee, the Attorney Well-Being Committee, and was in the 2010 TBA Leadership Law class. She is a 1996 graduate of the Nashville School of Law and earned her master of business administration from Vanderbilt University in 2012.

The following candidates also won their respective races
Rachel Moses, governor, Fourth District; Trey Thatcher, West Grand Division governor, Position 2; and Jamie Durrett, Middle Grand Division governor, Position 2.

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Online Renewal Program for 2019 – 2020 is Now Open

Membership includes three pre-paid CLE credits (a $150 value) plus discounts on courses, free online legal research (with an annual value of $995) and timely information through TBA Today, the TBA Law Blog and the Tennessee Bar Journal.


Gala Honors International Paper, Hospital 

The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) and International Paper were both honored for their commitment to pro bono services during the 13th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala in Nashville April 6. The event was jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel, and in partnership with the TBA Access to Justice Committee.
ETCH was honored for its medical-legal partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET). The award was accepted by Alex Brinson, ETCH Family Services attorney. International Paper was recognized for the pro bono efforts of its legal department. Sharon Ryan, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, accepted the award.
The gala, which was held at the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, featured remarks from Eve Runyon, president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute.

HELP4TN Day Kicks Off Month of Free Legal Resource Events 

The Third Annual HELP4TN Day was April 6, kicking off a month of more than 100 events and activities aimed at bringing free legal resources to Tennesseans in need. The Tennessee Supreme Court launched the effort at a press conference and Pro Bono Summitt, hosted by its Access to Justice Commission.
“In the past 10 years, we have seen Tennessee go from having a somewhat dismal record on access to justice to regularly being listed among the top 10 states nationally,” Justice Connie Clark, who is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Commission, said. “This is the direct result of groups and attorneys coming together to solve this problem. Access to Justice is a priority across the state, and we are making a difference in the lives of Tennesseans.”

Members of the Tennessee Supreme Court gathered to kick off the third annual Help4TN month. Chief Justice Jeff Bivins and Justices Holly Kirby, Sharon Lee and Roger Page listen as Connie Clark outlines the month. Photo by Liz Todaro.

Tennessee lawyers were invited to participate in Help4TNDay activities, and to volunteer beyond April. Events were organized to bring attention to the ongoing need for free and low-cost legal services and highlight the groups that provide these services to disadvantaged Tennesseans. Opportunities included volunteering to help clients in need through Tennessee Free Legal Answers (TFLA) or at a local legal clinic.
Help4TNDay is a joint effort by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association.


Supreme Court Adopts Changes to Rule 7 

After opening the issue up to public comment earlier this year, the Tennessee Supreme Court has officially adopted amendments to Rule 7, which governs the admission and licensing of attorneys in the state.
Changes include edits to the rules governing students attending non-
American Bar Association accredited law schools, approval of law schools seeking ABA accreditation and more. The rule went into effect in March. The court received comments from deans, clinic directors and law school faculty members.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Reeves became the chief judge of the Eastern District of Tennessee, the first woman to do so. Reeves also made history in 1998 as the TBA’s first woman president. Celebrating with her are, from left, former TBA President Buck Lewis, Malinda Lewis, former TBA President Charles Swanson who is married to Reeves, TBA President-elect Sarah Sheppeard, Laura Tarpley and former TBA President John Tarpley. Photo by Pam Simpson, judicial assistant to Chief Judge Reeves.Reeves Named Chief Judge  

District Judge Pamela L. Reeves became the chief judge of the Eastern District of Tennessee on April 1, succeeding U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan, who has held the chief judgeship for the past seven years. Reeves is the first woman to hold a district judgeship in the Eastern District of Tennessee and becomes the first woman to hold the district’s chief judge position in the court’s 222-year history. She was nominated to her judgeship in 2013, confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in 2014. She received her law degree from the UT College of Law in 1979, and she practiced law in Knoxville until her appointment.
She served as the first female president of the TBA  from 1998 to 1999.

Moskal is New Chancellor 

TBA President Jason Pannu presented Chancellor Patricia Head Moskal with a gavel on behalf of the Tennessee Bar Association March 28 during her Investiture Ceremony in the Davidson County Chancery Court. Moskal is a former partner at the law firm of Bradley where she served as a litigator for more than 30 years. She replaces former Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman, who recently retired.

Family Law

Court Adopts New Rule Addressing Collaborative Family Law 

After opening the issue up to public comment in 2017, directing the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission to provide comment in June 2018 and holding hearings in October 2018, the Tennessee Supreme Court has officially adopted Rule 53, which addresses the practice of Collaborative Family Law. The rule proposal was initially put forth by the TBA in June 2017. It went into effect immediately.


Survey: Millennials OK with Less Money for Less Work, More Flexibility

In a recent survey of millennial lawyers, nearly half say their workloads have increased in recent years, and about 1 in 4 say they would take less money in exchange for either a more flexible work schedule, more time off or a cut in billable hours, the ABA Journal reported.
The survey of more than 1,200 lawyers in law firms was conducted in conjunction with Above the Law.
It also found that more than 45 percent of female attorneys believe there is inherent sexism in
the profession and 56 percent strongly agreed there is a gender pay gap.