Members of the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Access to Justice Commission honored the pro bono work of attorneys, law students and law firms in ceremonies across the state this week. Programs were held in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville to recognize the 167 attorneys and 95 law students who donated 50 or more hours of their time over the last year to Tennesseans in need of free legal assistance. Nine law firms also were recognized for averaging more than 50 hours of pro bono per year per attorney.

Representatives from the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education and Specialization and the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility also were honored at each event for their organizations’ commitment to pro bono.

The court’s recognition program was announced last spring by then Chief Justice Gary R. Wade. It was the result of a recommendation by the court’s Access to Justice Commission, which is tasked with making such recommendations to the Supreme Court of projects and programs necessary for enhancing access to justice. At the time it was announced, only 45 percent of the more than 17,000 Tennessee attorneys were estimated to be providing pro bono services.

Speaking this week, current Chief Justice Sharon Lee said the court undertook the effort to increase the number of attorneys and law offices providing pro bono services. “The Supreme Court has recognized the critical need for pro bono work and this award is just one of many ways the Court and the Access to Justice Commission is honoring those that give back to the communities we serve,” she said. “It’s the court’s hope that others will follow in the leadership of these generous attorneys and students and give of their time as well.”

The court’s recognition carries with it a designation of “Attorney for Justice” or “Law Student for Justice,” which recipients may use on their web sites or in marketing materials. Honorees also are included in an Honor Roll published on the court’s website. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting to the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Learn more about the recognition program or the ceremonies held this week. See all photos from the court.

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean and Access to Justice Commission Chair Doug Blaze (center) joined Chief Justice Sharon Lee (to right of Blaze) in Knoxville to honor the 60 attorneys, 44 law students and one law office that achieved the recognition.

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

Honorees at the Nashville event.

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

Honorees at the Nashville event with Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark (center).

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Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby (right) presented the awards in Memphis on Monday to 33 attorneys from West Tennessee. There are 25 law students and three law offices that were honored as well.

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark and Nashville attorney and Access to Justice Commissioner David Esquivel presented the awards to the recipients from middle Tennessee on Tuesday. Seventy-four attorneys, 26 law students and five law offices were honored at Belmont College of Law.

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

Former TBA President Marcy Eason (left) with Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee and UT Law Dean Doug Blaze. 

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby (left) with Access to Justice Commissioner and former TBA President Buck Lewis.

CPB Pro Bono Honorees 2014

Twenty six law students students were honored at the Nashville event. They pose here with Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark.