TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Sep 24, 2010

Journal Issue Date: Oct 2010

Journal Name: October 2010 - Vol. 46, No. 10

Clark sworn in as new chief justice

With more than 300 family, friends, judges, lawyers and public officials looking on, Justice Cornelia A. "Connie" Clark today became chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The ceremony was held in the Historic Williamson County Courthouse, which was being renovated, but reopened early especially for the occasion. It was the site of Clark's first appearance as a lawyer and where she presided as a trial judge for 10 years. The ceremony featured remarks from judges representing every judicial and clerk's organization in the judicial branch. In her remarks, Clark said that she was borrowing the theme from the recent juvenile and family court judges conference: Different Courts, Different People, One Purpose.
IOLTA revenues up following rule changes

Monthly IOLTA income is up, and more banks are participating in the program following the adoption of new Supreme Court rules governing the program. The Tennessee Bar Foundation, which administers the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts program in Tennessee, reports in its latest newsletter that monthly income more than doubled from September 2009 to June 2010. In addition, 30 more banks have started offering IOLTA accounts to their lawyer customers. The rule changes, recommended by the Tennessee Bar Association and other legal organizations across the state, require all client funds held by a lawyer for a short time, or which are small in amount, to be placed in special accounts, with the interest going to IOLTA. Money from the IOLTA program is distributed to organizations that provide direct legal services to the indigent, to organizations that seek to improve the administration of justice and to students, in the form of scholarships, at state-supported law schools.

Learn more about the IOLTA program

New TBA committee examines foreclosure procedure
Amid the continuing wave of home loan defaults, foreclosure procedure in Tennessee is getting a fresh look by a special TBA committee formed to examine the procedures employed when homeowners default on their loans and face foreclosure. Chaired by Chattanooga lawyer Hal North, a shareholder at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC, the committee is charged with examining what procedural changes could be made to reduce the cost of foreclosures, streamline the process and protect homeowners. The committee, composed of a balanced group of lawyers who represent banks, consumers, lenders and those who deal with bankruptcies, held its first organizational meeting last week. It plans to meet monthly during the fall.

Get more details about the committee and its members

Deferred graduates turning to public interest law ... and staying there
When law firms with commitments to law school students began deferring offers in 2008 to make it through the crashing economic environment, a funny thing happened. Many of those students spent that off-year practicing public interest law. But that's not the funny part -- when the year was up a lot of them decided to keep doing it. "What's interesting about the deferral process is that, even though I thought it wasn't right, it got me to pursue what I wanted to do in the first place," Avi Singh said. A 2009 Harvard Law School graduate, Singh decided to stay on with the Santa Clara County public defender's office in San Jose, Calif., instead of returning to the firm Quinn Emmanuel after a four-month deferral. "Here, I'm helping clients on a very basic level," he said. The New York Times tells you more about the trend

Read stories of pro bono heroes in this new issue
The summer edition of The Tennessee Volunteer Attorney is now available. Here's what you will find inside of it: Details of the legal services that the bar quickly mobilized in response to the devastating floods; stories of pro bono lawyers and their work in the communities they serve; information about the recipients of West Tennessee Legal Services' Law Day Awards; and an account of huge amounts of pro bono work provided to the Tennessee Justice Center's clients by two large, national law firms.

Download the Tennessee Volunteer Attorney

Tenn. lawyers give nearly 300,000 hours, report shows
Tennessee lawyers volunteered nearly 300,000 hours of service last year, according to a report released today from the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. In the first year of voluntary reporting of pro bono information, 3,698 Tennessee lawyers " about 18 percent of all who are licensed in the state " reported that they had performed some type of voluntary service, BPR Chief Disciplinary Counsel Nancy Jones said. Additionally, about 30 percent of these lawyers reported that they contributed financial support to organizations that provide legal services to clients with limited means. Having this benchmark reporting data is one way the court and the bar will evaluate if steps being taken to eliminate barriers to pro bono service are having a significant impact.

Read the full BPR report

Suffrage anniversary a good day to talk about civics
Women's Equality Day is being celebrated across the country today, but do you know what Tennessee's role was in its establishment? Don't feel bad if you don't know the answer because you aren't alone. In an effort to focus the youth of our state on Tennessee's legal system and history, TBA President Sam Elliott, along with the TBA Public Education Committee, will soon launch a YouTube Video Contest titled "Tennessee's Unique History of Law and Liberty." Students will be challenged to produce a three-minute video that tells the story of an event, circumstance, person or law that has played an important role in Tennessee's history. The contest is open to young people in grades 6-12, and students will compete for cash prizes as well as an opportunity to show their videos to leaders of the state's legal community. Check out the TBA website for more information and you might just learn the answer to the question posed above!

Learn more about the TBA YouTube Video Contest

Legal hotline helps over 500
A free legal assistance hotline " established in the wake of last May's massive flooding across the state " has provided legal services to more than 500 Tennesseans. More than 200 lawyers have volunteered to work on the cases. In addition, those affected by the disaster continue to seek help with 10 to 15 calls being logged each week on the hotline. Data shows that calls have come from more than half of the counties declared federal disaster areas, with the greatest number " 345 " coming from Davidson County. Other high-volume counties have been Giles with 57 calls and Shelby with 42 calls. The hotline will remain active so long as there is a need. Read more and see a breakdown of calls by topic and by county

Law tops list of professions with growth in hiring
According to Monster.com, there are strong signs of employment growth in the online job market with hiring up 21 percent over last year. The company's employment index also indicates the eight professions in which employers are hiring " using online ads " at the fastest rate. Topping the list at number one is the legal profession, including attorneys, legal assistants and secretaries. Monster suggests this is a good sign for the economy as whole as corporations usually cut back on legal staff in a recession. News Channel 5 reports

Shelby Co. Juvenile Court to celebrate centennial
The Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County will observe its 100th anniversary Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. The court " considered to be the third oldest juvenile court in the nation behind Chicago (1899) and Denver (cir. 1905) " will celebrate with a reception, seminars, tours, a 5K race and picnic. Chief Justice Connie Clark and Justice Janice Holder are scheduled to participate in the formal observance Sept. 30.

See the schedule at http://www.victorianvillageinc.org/

Court adopts new pro bono rule for non-active lawyers
The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted Rule 50A in September establishing a Pro Bono Emeritus Attorney Program to allow lawyers who no longer actively practice law to provide free legal services through approved legal assistance organizations. The rule, designed to increase access to justice for needy individuals in the state, lays out qualifications for participation, a certification process for both lawyers and organizations seeking to participate, and responsibilities of attorneys who are certified. The rule was proposed by the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission and supported by the TBA. Its language is drawn from a number of similar rules that have been adopted in other U.S. jurisdictions. The rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2011. For more information about the new program or to learn about opportunities for volunteering, please contact TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Sarah Hayman at shayman@tnbar.org or (615) 383-7421.

Download a copy of the new rule

Firm has new recruiting plan
A Nashville-based firm has a novel plan for recruiting new lawyers: an intensive, practice-specific apprenticeship program called Schola2Juris. Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis PLLC will unveil this "new pathway for hiring entry-level associates" to 2L students at the UT College of Law on Sept. 13. "Rather than anticipating our hiring needs almost two years in advance, this program will enable the firm to assess its actual needs by practice area and focus its energies and resources on students whose skills and interests align with those needs," Kathleen Pearson, director of professional recruiting, explained. Learn more from The Informant http://www.law.utk.edu/publications/informant.shtml

Judges wary of Facebook, survey shows
A survey conducted by the Conference of Court Public Information Officers recently found that although judges might want to use social media such as Facebook, they doubt that that they could use the new media tools in their professional lives without violating judicial ethics codes. Forty percent of the judges who responded to the survey said they use social media sites. Most of those use Facebook and most are judges who stand for election. Fewer than 9 percent of non-elected judges use social media sites, the survey indicated. Some elected judges have used the sites to interact with voters, but most use them the same way other adults do, namely "to connect with their grandkids." The National Law Journal has details
Procedural, evidence rules amendments published
A proposal to permit declarations under penalty of perjury in lieu of sworn affidavits and a provision addressing the treatment of orders which preserve certified questions of law following a criminal plea agreement " both proposals made by the Tennessee Bar Association " are among more than a dozen amendments to the Rules of Appellate, Civil and Criminal procedure and Rules of Evidence published today by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court invites public comment on the proposals through Nov. 19. Various sections of the TBA will review the amendments for consideration of filing any comments.

Some of the changes proposed by the court's Advisory Commission include:

  • Incorporating the statutory definition of "legal holiday" into the Appellate, Civil and Criminal procedure rules.
  • Amending TRCP 3 and 4 to permit plaintiffs to intentionally delay service of a summons for up to 30 days following the filing of a complaint. After 30 days from the filing of a complaint, a good faith effort to effect service would be required. The rule expressly would provide that intentionally delaying service for more than 30 days from the original filing of the complaint would be ineffective for purposes of tolling the statute.
  • Adding a new provision to TRCP 26 requiring that a party who calls an expert witness disclose the witness's qualifications, cases in which the witness has testified, and a statement of compensation paid for the testimony.
  • Amending TRCP 45 to require motions to quash a subpoena be made within 14 days after the subpoena is served or before the time specified in the subpoena for compliance.
  • Adding a new TRCP 72, proposed in response to a TBA recommendation, that would permit statements signed with "I declare (or certify, verify or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct" to be filed in lieu of an affidavit or sworn declaration.
  • Adding a new subdivision (b)(J) to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 setting forth a requirement that as part of a plea agreement a defendant must be advised of the effect a plea would have on his immigration or naturalization status. This provision comes as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Padilla v. Kentucky.
  • Amending Rule of Evidence 611 to permit a lawyer to ask leading questions when calling a witness "who is identified with an adverse party." This is the only change to the Rules of Evidence.

Download a complete copy of the proposed amendments http://www.tba2.org/tbatoday/news/2010/scamendments_090810.pdf