Cover Story

Justice Under the Black Flag

Even Pirates Needed the Rule of [Their Own] Law

In the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Captain Barbosa states that the pirates’ code “is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”[1] This was not true. The codes were taken seriously and strictly enforced. Despite their lawlessness, pirates during “the Golden Age of Piracy” in the Caribbean (1650 –1730) found that each floating community needed a measure of law and order, albeit a very different kind of social order than seen in the rest of the world.

read more »

Violence at Work

How to Deal With Bullying, Intimidation, Threats and Physical Violence

Violence in the American workplace is not a new phenomenon. In the age of 24-hour cable news and social media, it is sometimes difficult to assess whether workplace violence is on the rise to the point of being an epidemic, or whether we simply hear more about it these days. Fear of terrorism further heightens our awareness of such incidents. Statistics can be misleading, and they can be manipulated. Moreover, the lines are blurred regarding what constitutes workplace violence, as between actual physical assaults versus threats, harassment and horseplay.

read more »

Coolidge: Humble Advocate for the Law

His Presidency Advanced the Rule of Law, Judicial Independence, Civil Rights


With another peaceful transfer of power under the American constitutional system, it is a fitting time to recall one of the most humble yet dramatic inaugurations and the remarkable administration it commenced: the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, a presidency committed to the rule of law.

read more »

Your Expertise Makes Pro Bono Work

Specialized Knowledge Can Help Those in Need

There may be a perception that the primary opportunities for pro bono legal service are only for lawyers with an expertise in family law, housing, debt or other issues that are most common for underserved or low-income clients. While there are many opportunities in those areas, there are also countless other ways to provide pro bono service that utilize specialty areas, from intellectual property and immigration law to estate planning and appellate practice.

read more »

Is Your Client Information Safe?

Data Security Is Your Responsibility Even if You Don’t Understand How it Works

In April 2016, hundreds of media outlets published articles revealing the use of offshore corporations by public figures around the world. The reports derived from an anonymous source that acquired data from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They exposed sensitive and confidential client information to the public. Already, this breach has affected senior government leaders, celebrities and family members of prominent citizens. Shortly after the start of coverage of the Panama Papers, as they would come to be known, the Prime Minister of Iceland was forced to resign.

read more »

Just Breathe: How Mindfulness & Meditation Can Ease Stress in Your Life and Law Practice

 “The practice of law is stressful,” writes Murfreesboro lawyer Pat Blankenship. “Lawyers get paid to enter into the fray of conflict, to expect and prepare for the worst case scenario. We are under great pressure to bill more hours, to work more, relax less. Technology keeps us constantly tuned in. There are myriad ways to mess it up, break a rule, miss a deadline, or fail to be as persuasive as we must. We seek and expect perfection of ourselves, and so do our clients.

read more »

Pardon Me

How Executive Clemency Works in Tennessee (and How It Doesn’t)

“How can I get a pardon?” is one of the most common questions I am asked as a criminal defense attorney. In many situations the conviction at issue was the person’s only legal transgression, resulted in no one getting hurt, and is decades old. Nonetheless, my answer always begins with a piece of advice: circle January 2019 on your calendar, because that is the soonest you can reasonably hope for any chance of relief.

read more »

A State of Confusion and a Need for Clarity

The Fallout from Culbertson I and II

In Tennessee, trial courts have a duty to protect the best interests of children.[1] As early as 1918, the Tennessee Supreme Court acknowledged that the state has a right “paramount to any parental or other claim[] to dispose of such children as their best interests require” and that “the legal rights of a parent are very gravely considered[] but are not enforced to the disadvantage of the child.”[2] Thus, in any proceeding requiring the court to make a custody determination, trial courts must make such determinations according to the best interests of the child.[3] This statutory requireme

read more »

Confusion/Clarity

In the ongoing efforts to protect the children of a divorce, much conflict has arisen in the law regarding the handling of parents’ mental health records in their litigation.  Among lawyers and mental health professionals, two strong camps of thought exist on the topic:  The first is that the counseling and mental health records of a parent are sacrosanct and should be protected and held confidential at all costs, and the second is that the confidentiality of those records should be set aside when litigating the best interest of a child.

read more »

Culbertson – The Court of Appeals Got It Right

The issues faced by the Court of Appeals in addressing parents’ mental health records are complex. Our courts do have a duty to protect the best interest of children.[1] Important as this may be, this is not the only duty that the courts have. They must also take into account a need to respect patient privacy, encourage individuals to seek treatment, focus on a parent’s actual current ability to care for his or her children and not retroactively withdraw promises of confidentiality.

read more »