Posted by: News Sources on Sep 1, 2020

Journal Issue Date: Sept-Oct 2020

Journal Name: Vol. 56 No. 9

October is “Celebrate Pro Bono Month,” an opportunity to provide free legal services to those in need and honor the good work performed by lawyers every day. Tennessee’s month-long celebration overlaps with the National Pro Bono Celebration, planned for the last week of the month. The theme for the national event is “Rising to Meet the Challenge: Pro Bono Response to COVID-19.” 

Recent research shows that there are 1.6 million Tennesseans living in poverty and about 60% of them will face at least one civil legal issue per year. Most of these individuals will not receive adequate legal help, for a variety of reasons. Many do not recognize that they have a legal issue, or they don’t know where to go for help. Others are intimidated to seek help, fear being turned down, or just can’t access resources that are available. 

Celebrate Pro Bono Month provides an opportunity to educate the public about legal issues and the available legal resources, as well as providing life-changing help to individuals in need.

Now in its 12th year, Tennessee’s statewide Celebrate Pro Bono initiative brings together legal services providers with local bar associations, law schools, law firms and individual volunteers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This year hundreds of volunteers will participate in dozens of events and activities across the state that will offer assistance to Tennesseans in need. Planned activities include legal advice clinics, education programs, recognition celebrations 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. Events, including opportunities to volunteer, will be promoted in TBA Today, via social media and on the TBA website throughout October. If you have information on an event, please share it with TBA by emailing to

Learn more about the National Pro Bono Celebration at, and TBA
Celebrate Pro Bono 2020 at


TBA Diversity Task Force Begins Work

TBA’s first Diversity Task Force will soon begin critical discussions to address diversity, inclusion and equity in Tennessee’s legal community. 

Mary Beard

Under the leadership of Nashville lawyer and TBA Chief Diversity Officer Mary Beard, the task force includes the following members to date: Deborah Yeomans Barton of Legal Aid of East Tennessee; Brentwood lawyer Julie Bhattacharya Peak of Liberty Mutual Ins. Co.; Harrison McIver, former director of Memphis Area Legal Services; Knoxville attorney John Winemiller of Merchant & Gould; Memphis attorney Lauren Holloway of McAngus Goudelock & Courie; Judge Camille McMullen of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals; U. S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District Cynthia Richardson Wyrick; Mohamde Akram Faizer of the LMU Duncan School of Law in Knoxville; LaTonnsya Burney, the assistant dean of student conduct at Tennessee State University; Nashville attorney and TAPABA president Chris Javillonar, general counsel at Permobil Inc.; Knoxville attorney and TLAW president Loretta Cravens of Cravens Legal; Michelle Long, deputy director, Administrative Office of the Courts; Anica Conner Jones, attorney with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Ariel Anthony, attorney with Husch Blackwell; Joshua Wallis , attorney at The Landers Firm, Memphis; and Elizabeth Hernandez, managing attorney at the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence. In addition, the task force is expected to include representatives from some of the state’s specialty bars, as well as leaders from key TBA committees.

The task force, which will begin meeting this fall, will analyze current and future diversity initiatives within the bar association, opportunities for statewide collaboration and the creation of strategic objectives related to promoting diversity, inclusion  and equity in the legal profession. TBA will issue a formal press release with the final list of task force members and its mission in September.

To find resources collected to help and inform diverse attorneys, those seeking to diversify the legal profession, and about the diversity issues facing the profession and the country, go to


Sanders, Gilbert Join Editorial Board  

Two new members were named by TBA President Michelle Sellers to the Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board this summer for three-year terms. 

Craig Sanders

Craig P. Sanders, a partner with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC in Jackson, joined the group in June. Sanders is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he was an editor of the Tennessee Law Review. He is a past president  of the Jackson-
Madison County Bar Association, a past president of the Jackson-Madison County Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division, and a TBA Leadership Law graduate.

Lynda Gilbert

Lynda Gilbert joined the board in August. A graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where she was a law fellow and a law review editor, she practices employment law at Gilbert Law in Chattanooga. She earned her masters degree in social work from the University of Tennessee. Gilbert has taught graduate school courses in social work law and social welfare policy. 

Sanders and Gilbert join current members Andrée Sophia Blumstein of Nashville (chair), Wade V. Davies of Knoxville, Suzanne Landers of Memphis, Costin Shamble of Clarksville and Jonathan Steen of Jackson.