News

Ettingoff is New MALS CEO

Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) announced today that its Board of Directors has chosen Cindy Ettingoff as its chief executive officer, effective Dec.16. She steps in to lead MALS following the retirement of Harrison McIver in March. As a practicing attorney in Memphis and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years, Ettingoff has also worked as MALS' managing attorney of the Pro Bono Unit. In private practice, she has primarily focused on labor and employment law and mediation. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis’ Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Ettingoff is an active TBA member and serves as the chair of the Dispute Resolution section. Read more from MALS.

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Remember Veterans' Sacrifices, Defending the Rule of Law

Today we honor the nation's Veterans. American Bar Association President Judy Perry Martinez reminds lawyers that the day is "to honor the patriotism, sacrifice and contributions of those who have served their country and defended the rule of law in the United States and across the globe." She highlights the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel; that the group has worked with state and local bar associations and state courts to establish more than 400 veterans’ courts; and that the ABA's Military Pro Bono Project accepts case referrals for civilian pro bono lawyers from military lawyers on behalf of junior-enlisted, active-duty military personnel and their families. Also, listen to NPR's StoryCorps, which collected veterans' stories in Middle Tennessee.

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Coffee County Family Treatment Court Holds Graduation

The Coffee County Family Treatment Court held its first group graduation on Nov. 1. The class included seven participants and involved the reuniting of six families, including 12 children, who had been separated as a result of parents’ substance use disorders. In addition to the Family Treatment Court, the Coffee County Drug Court Foundation operates a Recovery Court, Veterans Court, Mental Health Court and Safe Baby Court.

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Innocence Project Holds Kickoff Fundraiser

Attorney and best-selling author John Grisham delivered keynote remarks at “Inaugurating Innocence,” the sold-out kickoff fundraiser for the Tennessee Innocence Project held Oct. 23 in Nashville. Grisham, who serves on the board of the Innocence Project in New York, spoke about the importance of an innocence organization in Tennessee and the causes of wrongful convictions. Former Titans player Eddie George emceed the event, which raised more than $135,000 for the organization. Read the full press release from the organization.

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LAET Director Offers Insights Into Agency's Work

What's it like working with heroes everyday? Legal Aid of East Tennessee Executive Director Sheri Fox gives some insight in an interview with the Hamilton County Herald. "The attorneys, paralegals and other professionals who work at Legal Aid literally change the world," she says, "helping thousands of people solve legal problems that, but for Legal Aid, would leave our neighbors and friends homeless, hungry, without other basic necessities of life including health care and at risk of severe injury or death." Read the full interview.

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Knox Public Defender Reflects on Career

For nearly 30 years, Mark Stephens worked to create the best system to defend the poor, make their lives better and save taxpayers money. Today, that system is considered by the American Bar Association to be a model approach. Last week, the public defender’s office was renamed the “Mark Stephens Community Law Office” to honor the county’s first and only public defender. But Stephens says now is the time for “new energy” and a “new vision,” and he is stepping down early (his term does not expire until 2022). Knox News looks at the history of the public defender’s office and the role Stephens played in its creation.

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KBA Launches Redesigned Website for Lawyer Referral

The Knoxville Bar Association has launched a newly redesigned website for its Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) at https://tnlawyerfinder.org/. The site features a monthly blog, e-newsletter, videos on what to expect when hiring a lawyer, and resources available for download, according to Knox News. Those looking for a lawyer may also continue calling the LRIS intake staff at 865-522-7501 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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State Now Working on Plan to Spend TANF Funds

Gov. Bill Lee said on Monday that the state is working on a plan to use some of the $732 million in reserves from a federal block grant designed to help poor, working families, Knox News reports. Lee previously said he did not plan to dip into the large surplus of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds until there was an economic downturn. At a state budget hearing today, though, he said he supports a preliminary plan to use $68 to $70 million for grant awards to nonprofit organizations but that a “broader” strategy is needed.

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Justice Kirby Visits Memphis Law Legal Clinics

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby recently visited the University of Memphis School of Law and met with students involved in three of the school’s legal clinics: the Elder Law Clinic, Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic and Neighborhood Preservation Clinic. Read more about her observations and the work being done in a press release from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

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TJC Seeking Volunteers for End-of-Year Mailing

A volunteer opportunity is available at the Tennessee Justice Center to help with the organization’s end-of-year mailing. Mailings are sent to partners, donors and friends each year to inform them of the work TJC is doing. To help with scheduling, there are two volunteer times: noon – 1 p.m. on Nov. 12 and 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 13. Get registered here.

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MALS Holds ‘Attorney of the Day’ Clinic

Memphis Area Legal Services will hold its Attorney of the Day Clinic on Thursday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Volunteer attorneys will be in Room 134 of the Judge D’Army Bailey Shelby County Courthouse, 140 Adams Ave., to meet with pro se litigants and provide advice, counsel and referrals. Clients are seen on a first-come first-serve basis.

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Pro Bono & Faith Days to be Held in Chattanooga

The third annual Faith & Pro Bono Days, hosted by the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance, will wind down on Thursday with a final event in Chattanooga. This year's program partners with National Interfaith Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and Tennessee Senior Law Alliance for special resource presentations on community legal care for those experiencing abuse and domestic violence. Chattanooga is hosting the fourth program of the Pro Bono & Faith Days series, which featured additional programs in each grand division earlier this month. Learn more about the program and register here.

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Opinion: Pro Bono Work Addresses Constant Need

Former TBA president and Nashville lawyer Jacqueline B. Dixon wrote in the Dickson Post last week about the pro bono legal services provided by lawyers across the state throughout the year. Dixon, who is a shareholder with Weatherly McNally & Dixon, reflected on her experience handling pro bono cases as well as statistics that show Tennessee lawyers in 2016 provided 652,555 hours of pro bono service, contributing an estimated $130 million in value. She also encouraged lawyers to continue serving those unable to afford an attorney.

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Legal Aid Holds Veterans’ Legal Clinic Wednesday

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands will hold a Veterans’ Clinic on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Operation Stand Down, 1125 12th Ave S. Nashville 37203. Call 615-244-6610 or 800-238-1443 for more information.

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Memphis to Host Pro Bono & Faith Days

The Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance is hosting its third annual Pro Bono & Faith Days Training, a series of events designed to help faith leaders and community partners learn about free legal resources and pro bono help in their area. This year, the program partners with the National Interfaith Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and Tennessee Senior Law Alliance for a special resource presentation on community legal care for those experiencing abuse and domestic violence. The next program in the series will take place in Memphis on Oct. 29 at Church Health, 1350 Concourse Ave., Ste. 142. Register for this event here. Trainings have been held in each grand division during the month of October, with the fourth and final event planned for Oct. 31 in Chattanooga.

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Memphis Bar to Hold Pro Bono Awards Luncheon

The Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee will host its Annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony & Luncheon on Monday from noon to 2 p.m. The event will take place at International Paper (Tower 4, Sequoia Room), 1740 International Dr., Memphis 38197. Tickets are $30 and are available online. For more information call 901-260-3276.

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'Super Saturday' Legal Clinic Set for Maryville

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Blount County Bar Association will hold a “Super Saturday” legal clinic in Blount County on Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will take place in the Sharon Lawson Room of the Blount County Library, 508 N. Cusick St. in Maryville. No appointment is necessary. For more information, contact Legal Aid at 865-981-1818 or 856-637-0484.

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Conflict Resolution Center, Bass Berry Form Mediation Partnership

The Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and the law firm of Bass, Berry & Sims have forged a pro bono partnership to make mediation more accessible to low-income families and youth in Middle Tennessee. The groups announced the effort today during Celebrate Pro Bono Month and National Mediation Week. The center already provides free mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method, but the involvement of Bass Berry will “provide a new stream of mediators” and allow the center to increase the referrals it accepts from Davidson County and surrounding county courts. For more information read a joint release from the groups.

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MALS Narrows Search for New CEO

For more than 20 years, Harrison McIver III led Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. (MALS) as its CEO. In March, he retired from the organization and since then the nonprofit has been looking for someone to take the reins, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The interim CEO, Dick Cullison, who previously ran a legal aid firm in Kentucky, said the organization has narrowed down its search to three people. The search committee will meet with the finalists on Oct. 28. Cullison also reports that the new CEO will face some funding challenges next year as the organization has lost about $400,000 due to expiring grants.

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Veterans Legal Clinic Next Wednesday in Nashville

Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands will hold a Veterans Project Legal Help Clinic next Wednesday at Operation Stand Down Tennessee. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Operation Stand Down is located at 1125 12th Ave. S., 37203. The clinic helps veterans and their family members with a range of legal problems. Call 615-244-6610 for more information.

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Belmont Clinic to Include Family Law Assistance

Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands (LAS) will hold its “4th Thursday” Legal Help Clinic Oct. 24 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Belmont Ministry Center, 2005 12th Ave. S. (the former home of the Bass Street Baptist Church). In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, LAS will provide additional assistance with pro se family law forms at the event. Attorneys will be on hand to review forms for couples divorcing with or without children or those working on parenting plans or needing orders of protection.

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Pro Bono & Faith Days Series to Launch in Morristown

The third annual Pro Bono & Faith Days, hosted by the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance, begins next week in Morristown. This is the first in a series of programs held to inform faith leaders and community partners of free legal resources and help in their areas. Get registered for this event that will be held on Oct. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church in Morristown, 2518 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy. Additional sessions will be held in each grand division this month. Learn more and find a session in your area.

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MALS Holds ‘Attorney of the Day’ Clinic on Thursday

Memphis Area Legal Services will hold its Attorney of the Day Clinic on Thursday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Volunteer attorneys will be in Room 134 of the Judge D’Army Bailey Courthouse, 140 Adams Ave., to meet with pro se litigants and provide advice, counsel and referrals. Clients are seen on a first-come first-serve basis.

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Legal Aid Society to Hold Saturday Clinic

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold a legal clinic Saturday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Metro Nashville Public School’s Office of English Learners, 2694 Fessey Ct., Berry Hill 37204. This will be the last clinic at this location for the year.

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Reminder: 'Forging Justice' Event Set For Friday

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will celebrate pro bono volunteers at its annual “Forging Justice” event this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ironwood Studios. The event will feature live music, food and drink, and a silent auction. The agency also will recognize key volunteers. Tickets are available online.

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