TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Nov 23, 2011

Journal Issue Date: Dec 2011

Journal Name: December 2011 - Vol. 47, No. 12

Law firms from across Tennessee interviewed more than 60 law students in October during the Tennessee Bar Association’s Diversity Job Fair at the Tennessee Bar Center. Just in its first year, the Job Fair drew students from 21 law schools, ranging from those in Tennessee to historically black institutions as far away as Texas, Louisiana and Michigan.

“I was impressed by the scope of the workshops offered throughout the weekend and the overall quality of the candidates at the Diversity Job Fair,” says Knoxville lawyer Jason Long. Long’s firm, London &?Amburn PC, participated in the fair by interviewing students. “The program worked to simplify the often overwhelming process of connecting firms with candidates who may meet their needs. The informal reception and focused interviews provided a meaningful opportunity to connect with students of unique and diverse backgrounds who bring a welcome perspective to the practice of law. We are already following up on the contacts we made.”

In announcing the job fair earlier this year, TBA President Danny Van Horn told his colleagues that the event would help the state retain its most promising law students and help the profession become more diverse.

“Despite all that is being done,” he said, “our profession lags behind other sectors in becoming measurably more diverse.” The event was developed by the TBA’s Committee on Racial & Ethnic Diversity under the leadership of Committee Chair Cristi Scott, clerk and master of Chancery Court for Davidson County.

Learn more about the fair at tba.org/info/welcome-to-tba-diversity-job-fair-central


Tennessee Celebrates Pro Bono
Bar associations, law schools and legal services providers joined together to produce more than 40 events across the state during Celebrate Pro Bono Month. Among those were 22 legal advice clinics, four “free” CLE programs for lawyers willing to take a pro bono case and 10 community education programs on topics such as simple wills, health care powers of attorney, bankruptcy, foreclosure and landlord/tenant law.

Each grand division of the state held at least one volunteer recognition program to honor the commitment and service of lawyers who provide pro bono services to the community.

More than 360 volunteers, including 247 lawyers and 114 non-lawyers (law students, paralegals and interpreters) helped meet the legal needs of 1,105 Tennesseans.

Interest groups pumping up spending on judicial races
A new report shows that interest groups pumped unprecedented amounts of money into state judicial elections in the last election cycle, a trend that threatens to undermine the impartiality of judges across the country. Political parties and advocacy groups working independently from the candidates are accounting for a greater share of spending on judicial elections, the report adds. Such independent expenditures accounted for $11.5 million, or nearly 30 percent, of the money spent in the 2009-2010 election cycle. The report was compiled by three organizations, including the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Judges to hire lobbyist
Members of Tennessee's Trial Judges' Association voted to hire a lobbyist to represent them in legislative efforts to revamp the Court of the Judiciary. The judges voted to increase their dues with a one-time assessment of $200 each in order to help get their message out to legislators. The vote came during a meeting of the trial judges at the Tennessee Judicial Conference in Franklin in October.

Loan relief program helps prosecutors, public defenders
Attorneys working as prosecutors and public defenders can apply now to get loan repayment assistance through the John R. Justice program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. The program provides loan repayment assistance for local, state, and federal public defenders and local and state prosecutors who commit to continued employment as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years. The deadline to apply is Dec. 9.

Religious harassment claims on the rise
Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Justice indicate that complaints of religious harassment in the workplace are on the rise, and now are second only to sexual harassment claims. According to University of Tennessee professor Rosalind Hackett, globalization and a more mobile society have increased diversity in the workplace while many businesses are not prepared to deal with issues regarding different holidays, attire, diet, values and practices.

New lawyers sworn in
More than 400 attorneys passed the bar exam in July, and about 300 took part in admission ceremonies around the state. About 200 of them were sworn in Nov. 1 at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. Between morning and afternoon sessions, the Tennessee Bar Association hosted an open house luncheon for new admittees and their families at the Tennessee Bar Center. The Tennessee Supreme Court also hosted admissions ceremonies in Knoxville, Jackson and Memphis.

TBA announces Leadership Law class for 2012
The Tennessee Bar Association announced in November its Leadership Law Class for 2012. Programming begins with an opening retreat in January and concludes with graduation ceremonies during the 2012 TBA Annual Convention next June in Memphis. The program will have 35 class members from across the state who were selected from several hundred nominees.

LSC site gives veterans more access to justice
In November last year, the Legal Services Corporation launched StatesideLegal.org, the first national website focused on helping veterans and military families better understand their legal issues. Since its launch, the site has attracted tens of thousands of page views and visitors from throughout the United States and 133 countries and territories. “Far too many veterans, including those who served in combat zones, are confronting challenges involving employment, child custody, homelessness and other civil matters,” LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi said in a statement on Veteran’s Day.

Board of Governors to vote on it Jan. 14

Proposed Bylaws Amendment Seeks to Balance Geographical Representation

In accordance with Section 59(1) of its Bylaws, the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors gives notice to TBA members of the facts and circumstances of a proposed amendment to the Bylaws addressing geographic representation of the Board of Governors.

The current geographic representation of the Board of Governors through district and grand division governor seats was established during the 1980s. Since that time, there has been a tremendous growth of the number of lawyers and concentration of lawyers in certain areas. This growth and concentration has resulted in some districts in the association containing as few as 150 members and other districts containing as many as 2,700 members. As provided in Section 16 of the TBA Bylaws, the TBA Board of Governors has examined the composition of the districts and has recommended changes to the geographical representation on the Board of Governors. In doing so, the board attempted to balance the importance of having substantial geographic diversity against the need to mitigate the extreme variance in the numbers of members from board district to board district.

A majority of the Board of Governors (1) rejected a pure pro rata approach, which would have resulted in even more seats in urban areas, but also (2) rejected retaining the status quo, which leaves significant areas of the state underrepresented. Rather, it was the Board of Governors’ desire to advance a proposal that protects geographic diversity while also providing greater balance in the composition of board districts.

This amendment combines Districts 7 and 8 in West Tennessee into a single district (the combined district would still have the fewest members of any district in the state by a significant margin); establishes a second seat for District 5 (Davidson County); and, adds a second Grand Division Governor to each of the three Grand Divisions. These changes help to mitigate the imbalance in geographical representation without significantly, adversely disturbing traditional representation patterns. The TBA Board of Governors will vote on adoption of these amendments at its Jan. 14, 2012, meeting. In order to ensure, in light of the consolidation of districts included in the proposal, that no duly elected board member is displaced from office before expiration of their term, the changes would be effective beginning with the 2013-2014 Bar Year.

The following is a redline of the sections which will be modified if the amendment is adopted.

Board of Governors

11. Authority of the Board. The Board of Governors shall govern the activities of, administer the business of and act for the Association in all matters, subject to the direction of membership and provisions of the Charter and these Bylaws.

12. Members of the Board. The Board shall consist of 24 27 members, as follows:

Vice President
Immediate Past President
President, Tennessee Judicial Conference
President and President-Elect, Young Lawyers Division
President, District Attorneys General Conference
President, District Public Defenders Conference
Speaker, House of Delegates
One Two Governors from each of the three Grand Divisions
One Governor from each of nine eight Districts
and two Governors from the Fifth District as established by the Board of Governors

13. The Districts are:

First District
Johnson, Hancock, Washington, Hamblen, Carter, Grainger, Unicoi, Sevier, Cocke, Jefferson, Hawkins, Greene, Sullivan, Claiborne

Second District
Campbell, Blount, Union, Loudon, Anderson, Morgan, Knox, Scott, Roane, Cumberland

Third District
Polk, Bradley, Bledsoe, Rhea, Hamilton, Marion, Meigs, McMinn, Sequatchie, Grundy, Monroe

Fourth District
White, Warren, Franklin, Lincoln, Van Buren, Fentress, Moore, Marshall, Pickett, Cumberland, Bedford, Cannon, Putnam, Smith, Rutherford, DeKalb, Overton, Jackson, Wilson, Macon, Clay, Coffee, Trousdale, Grundy, Sequatchie

Fifth District (two District Governors)

Sixth District
Giles, Lawrence, Humphreys, Houston, Wayne, Perry, Cheatham, Stewart, Lewis, Hickman, Montgomery, Sumner, Maury, Dickson, Robertson, Williamson

Seventh District
Henry, Decatur, Hardeman, McNairy, Carroll, Chester, Hardin, Madison, Henderson, Fayette, Benton

Eighth District
Weakley, Obion, Haywood, Crockett, Lake, Dyer, Tipton, Lauderdale, Gibson

Ninth Eighth District

14. Eligibility. Any member of the Association is eligible for election to any office in the Association, provided, however, that no District Governor shall serve more than two consecutive elected terms and no Grand Division Governor shall serve more than three consecutive elected terms in any Grand Division position. For transition purposes only, the initial term for Fifth District Governor Position 1 shall be two years. The Governor elected to Position 1 may then be elected to one consecutive three-year term for a total of five consecutive years.

15. Election of Governors. The nine District governors and the three six Grand Division governors shall be elected by the voting members from their respective Districts or Grand Divisions. A vacancy in the office of Governor may be filled by appointment of the Board of Governors, said appointee to serve until the next annual election. The election of District Governors shall be rotated among the nine Districts, with governors to be elected annually from three Districts for three-year terms. The election of the Fifth District Governor Position 1 shall take place in the same rotation as for district governors from Districts 2 and 8. The election of the Fifth District Governor Position 2 shall take place as the same rotation as for district governors from Districts 3 and 9.

A Two governors from and representing each of the three Grand Divisions shall be elected annually for a one-year term to a position designated by Grand Division as either Position 1 or Position 2.

The term of an elected Governor shall commence immediately following the annual membership meeting of the association.

16. Composition of Districts. The Board of Governors shall have the authority to change composition of the Districts to assure fair and equitable apportionment.

Feb. 15 is deadline to qualify

Run for Office in the TBA

During 2012, the following officers, governors and delegates of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) will be elected as set forth in the association’s bylaws:

TBA Officers and Board of Governors officers

A vice president (from the West Tennessee Grand Division — elected by the association’s membership-at-large). The vice president automatically assumes the office of president-elect in 2013 and president in 2014.

District Governors
District governors in the 3rd, 6th and 9th districts will be elected to three-year terms. They are elected by the members in their respective districts.

Those who currently hold those positions are: Chris Varner (3rd), Patrick Carter (6th) and Carl Carter (9th). Chris Varner and Carl Carter are eligible for re-election. Patrick Carter is ineligible for re-election because of term limits.

Grand Division Governors
TBA Grand Division Governors are elected for one-year terms by the membership in each grand division.

  • An East Tennessee governor from the 1st, 2nd or 3rd district.
  • A Middle Tennessee governor from the 4th, 5th or 6th district.
  • A West Tennessee governor from the 7th, 8th or 9th district.

Those who currently hold those positions are: Jason Long (E), James Crumlin (M) and Brian Faughnan (W). Jason Long and James Crumlin are eligible for re-election. Brian Faughnan is ineligible for re-election due to term limits.

TBA Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates
Three members to represent the TBA in the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates will be elected for two-year terms by the TBA membership in 2012. The positions are designated positions 2, 4 and 5.

Those who currently hold those positions are George T. “Buck” Lewis (2), John Tarpley (4) and Paul Campbell III (5). All three are eligible for re-election.

Qualifying, Balloting & Elections
The officers, governors and delegates to the ABA are elected by the membership as provided by election procedures with petitions due Feb. 15, 2012.

To qualify for any of these offices, a candidate must file a nominating petition with the executive director of the TBA. The petition must contain the names of 25 members of the association in good standing. The petition must be received at the TBA office on or before Feb. 15, 2012.

The Board of Governors has authorized an electronic balloting system supervised by auditors selected by the Board. After electronic balloting, mail ballots are also distributed. To be counted, these mail ballots must be received at the office of the TBA auditors. If there is only one duly-qualified candidate for an office by February 15, 2012, that candidate will automatically be declared elected.

This notice is in accordance with Bylaws of the TBA §15 and 40 through 46.

For more information on running for any of these offices, visit www.tba.org/BOG/elexhandbook.html or call 615-383-7421 for an election handbook.