News

TBJ: October is 'Celebrate Pro Bono' Month -- Also, Celebrate Health Insurance!

The October TBJ has all the details about the Tennessee Bar Association’s new Group Health Insurance Plan, including a word from TBA President Sarah Y. Sheppeard. Also read about how direct primary care legislation in the state can influence public health and medical economics. October is Celebrate Pro Bono Month -- we have the information on what’s going on, plus a look at historic figure William Tatham and his pro bono work. Columns this month include elder law and employment law: help with recognizing and addressing dementia in your clients and whistleblower claims in Tennessee.

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Legal Aid Holds Pro Bono Night in Chattanooga

Legal Aid of East Tennessee held its Community Justice Pro Bono Night on Sept. 20 at Chattanooga Whiskey. Those receiving awards at the event included Cathy Allshouse, who received the Pro Bono Award; Chancellor Jeffrey Stewart, who received the Access to Justice Award; Robin Musumeci and Marcy Eason who accepted the Firm of the Year Award on behalf of their firm, Miller & Martin; Sally Coffey, who was named Attorney of the Year; Russell Brumfield, who received the Exceptional Volunteer of the Year Award; and Trey Harris, who was inducted into the Pro Bono Hall of Fame.

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TJC Seeking 2 Full-time Attorneys

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is seeking two full-time staff attorneys in its Nashville office to provide individual legal services and develop and execute legal and policy solutions to advocate for access to quality and affordable health care, nutrition and access to justice. To apply, send cover letter, resume, writing sample, bar number and three references via email to crossini@tnjustice.org and include “staff attorney” in the subject line of the email. The deadline to apply is Oct. 15. Learn more about the jobs.

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Federal Public Defender Honored by ABA Death Penalty Representation Project

The ABA has announced that its Death Penalty Representation Project has recognized supervisory assistant federal defender Kelley J. Henry with the 2019 John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award. The group said it honored Henry for leading a “groundbreaking challenge to the state’s execution protocol, developing new scientific evidence on the possibility of torturous executions that has shaped similar lawsuits across the country.” Henry works in Nashville representing men and women on death row. In accepting the award, she talked about the “brokenness” she has seen in her career. “It’s a study in brokenness,” she said. “Brokenness of clients. Brokenness of the system that failed them before they could even walk or talk.” Learn more about the death penalty project.

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ACLU-TN to Honor Criminal Justice Advocate at Fundraiser

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee will honor Susan L. Kay, practice of law professor and associate dean at Vanderbilt University Law School, with its Lifetime Achievement Award at an upcoming fundraiser. The group reports that Kay has been a tenacious champion for criminal justice reform, better jail conditions, TennCare compliance and the effectiveness of counsel in capital cases. The event, set for Nov. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Noah Liff Opera Center in Nashville, also will feature music and a silent auction. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased online or by calling the ACLU at 615-320-7142.

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TennCare Deputy to Speak at Health Law Forum

As Tennessee deals with the rising costs of rural medical needs and seeks to implement a new Medicaid block grant proposal, there are many issues on the horizon for TennCare. TBA Health Law Section member and Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Gabe Roberts will address some of these issues on Oct. 17 at the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum. He will be joined by a stellar line-up of speakers. Check out the program and register here.

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New Organization Brings Attention to Civil Rights Crimes in Tennessee

Former TBA President and Alamo lawyer Jim Emison has launched Tennesseans for Historical Justice, a new organization dedicated to revealing historical truth regarding civil rights crimes in Tennessee and striving for restorative justice and healing. Emison was instrumental in bringing attention to the unsolved 1940 murder of civil rights activist Elbert Williams in Brownsville in his book “Elbert Williams: First to Die.” The group has applied for nonprofit status and is awaiting final approval. There are opportunities to volunteer with the group and support it financially.

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States Study Whether to Open Legal Doors to Nonlawyers

States across the country are considering whether to allow nonlawyers to play a greater role in the provision of legal services, Law 360 reports. Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah have all made moves in the last year to open up the legal industry to greater participation from non-traditional players such as legal technology companies. Now, Illinois is poised to launch an official exploration into the issue, while the Chicago Bar Foundation and Chicago Bar Association plan to launch a joint task force in October to do the same. So far most changes are in the proposal phase, except in Utah, where the state Supreme Court voted to change its regulatory structure last month. The idea behind the move is that more competition could help close the access to justice gap by lowering costs and increasing options for consumers. Opposition remains strong.

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Community Legal Center Holds Silver Anniversary Celebration

The Community Legal Center will celebrate 25 years of working to ensure justice for those in need with an evening at the Crosstown Theater in Memphis on Nov. 19. The “Silver Celebration” will include a seated dinner catered by Chef Kelly English's Restaurant Iris and the sounds of the Mighty Souls Brass Band. The evening will begin with cocktail hour from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by dinner and music from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $100 each and are on sale now.

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Nashville Chancery Court Receives Award for Aging Program

The Davidson County Chancery Court, Part III, recently was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Community Service Award by the Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The court was recognized for a statewide initiative designed to improve older Tennesseans’ lives. The program, the result of a settlement of two related cases, provides dental, transportation, housing and legal services. The court reports that in the first year, more than 17,174 elderly Tennesseans have been served and more than 1 million people have watched a public television program about the initiative. The program is administered by Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle with the help of Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability Executive Director Jim Shulman, General Counsel Charles Ferguson, attorneys for the receiver Paul Davidson and Tera Rica Murdock, receiver William C. Matheney, and representatives of five nonprofit agencies: West End Home Foundation, HCA Foundation, Assisi Foundation, United Way of Greater Knoxville and the Memorial Foundation.

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YLD Hosts Virtual Legal Clinic

 
The YLD is hosting a virtual legal clinic on Oct. 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville. The clinic is held in partnership with Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Belmont’s Legal Aid Society. During the clinic, attorney volunteers will be paired with a small group of law students to answer legal questions submitted by low income Tennesseans on TN Free Legal Answers. The law firm of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard is graciously sponsoring the event and will provide refreshments for the volunteers. This clinic is a great way to mentor and show law students the value of YLD involvement and to increase access to justice for vulnerable people in our community. 
 
Attorney volunteers should sign up for TN Free Legal Answers at least 24 hours prior to the clinic. Please email Alix Rogers to sign up and for more registration instructions.
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UT Law Professor Recognized by YWCA

The YWCA of Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley recognized seven honorees at its 35th Annual Tribute to Women Awards event this week, KnoxNews reports. Honorees were chosen from 21 finalists by judges in YWCA leadership positions across the country. In the education category, the YWCA honored Joy Radice, associate professor and legal clinic director at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Radice was selected for her dedication to the legal profession, for representing those who cannot afford an attorney and for extensive research on how to overcome legal obstacles created by a criminal record.

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Volunteers Needed for Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic

Knoxville-area legal organizations will hold their monthly Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic on Oct. 9 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office. Volunteers are needed and interested lawyers can sign up online to help service members and military families. The clinic is a joint project of the Knoxville Bar Association and its Access to Justice Committee; the Knoxville Barristers and it’s Access to Justice Committee; Legal Aid of East Tennessee; the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office; the University of Tennessee College of Law; Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law; and the local Veterans Affairs office.

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Report: Lawyers Earning More in 2019 but Not All Benefiting

In the decade since the Great Recession, wages for private lawyers have risen, with the average salary now at $144,230. However, digging deeper into a collection of data released in the last year-and-a-half shows the wealth is not being shared equally across gender, region, client type and practice areas, the ABA Journal reports. “There’s a fair bit of income inequality — that is not unique to the legal profession,” says Jon Lindsey, a partner at Major, Lindsey & Africa. The in-depth analysis looks at the highest-paid areas of the country as well as the lowest compensated regions and the differences between large and small firms, partners and associates, and for-profit and non-profit employers.

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Faith & Justice Clinic Set for Oct. 5

The next Faith and Justice Clinic will take place Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to noon at Ball Camp Baptist Church, 2412 Ball Camp Byington Rd., Knoxville 37931. The event will be held in conjunction with Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s regular Saturday Bar Clinic. The goal of the Faith and Justice Clinic initiative is to hold legal clinics in places of worship to create a less intimidating environment for individuals to talk to a lawyer.

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State Unveils TennCare Block Grant Proposal

Tennessee officials today unveiled a proposal to convert federal funding for the state’s TennCare program into a modified block grant. The grant would be calculated based on per-capita health care spending projections and could be increased based on TennCare enrollment. Tennessee officials say they can manage the program more efficiently than the federal government and are proposing that any savings be split with the state. Gov. Bill Lee said the plan could generate up to $1 billion in savings that could be invested in other health initiatives. A 30-day public comment period will now commence. The proposal also has to be approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Read more about the proposal in the Nashville Business Journal.

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Legal Aid to Hold Clinic at Nashville Library

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands will hold a free legal clinic from 4 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., Nashville 37219. The clinic will address issues such as conservatorships, wills and estates, homeownership, landlord problems, family problems, debt, employment issues and government benefits. For more information or to volunteer contact Kendra Cheek at 615-780-7131 or download a flyer of the event.

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Justice Initiative Open House Planned for Wednesday

The Justice Initiative will host an open house today from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. to celebrate its new location at 606 W. Main St., Ste. 100, in downtown Knoxville. The initiative was founded by District Public Defender Mark Stephens with a mission to research criminal justice practices and systems; promote best practices; engage in education and outreach; and advocate for indigent individuals accused of crimes. The initiative is also celebrating the launch of its Holistic Legal Incubator, which will focus on training new attorneys and social workers to offer meaningful and dignified assistance to clients through inter-professional collaboration.

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Race Judicata Memphis Set for Sept. 21

Co-hosted by the Memphis Bar Association and the Memphis Law Student Bar Association, Race Judicata benefits access to justice programs in the area with proceeds going directly to Memphis Area Legal Services and the Community Legal Center. The early registration price of $25 ends this Saturday. Lawyers also can get $5 off the fee by entering the code “memphislawyer” in the online form. The race will take place on North Front Street in downtown Memphis at 9 a.m. Learn more and register here.

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LAET to Honor Volunteers at ‘Forging Justice’ Event

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will hold its annual “Forging Justice” event on Oct. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ironwood Studios to celebrate its pro bono volunteers. The event will feature live music, food and drink, and a silent auction. The agency also will recognize some key volunteers. Thomas “Lynn” Tarpy with Tarpy, Cox, Fleishman & Leveille will be inducted into the Donald F. Paine Memorial Pro Bono Hall of Fame. Kevin Newton with The Law Offices of Mayer & Newton, the law firm of Kramer Rayson, the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office and the students of the University of Tennessee College of Law Expungement Clinic also will be recognized. Tickets are available online.

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Legal Aid Society to Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold its 50th Anniversary Celebration “An Evening at the Frist” on Nov. 9 at the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville. The event will feature cocktails, live music and a gallery exhibition, and provide a unique opportunity to honor the group’s distinguished 50-year legacy of providing “justice for all.” Tickets are available online.

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Tapas for Justice on Tap

Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors will hold its “Tapas for Justice” event on Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bradley Law Firm, 1600 Division St., Ste 700, Nashville 37203. The event will feature food and networking, and benefit the organization and its work with immigrants and refugees. Learn more and buy tickets here.

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Volunteers Needed for Tuesday’s Legal Advice Clinic

Tomorrow evening, the Fred D. Gray Institute for Law, Justice and Society at Lipscomb University will host a free legal advice clinic from 6 to 8 p.m. at Schrader Lane Church of Christ, 1234 Schrader Lane, Nashville 37208. This will be an advice-only clinic with no expectation that volunteer attorneys take on continuing representation. To volunteer, please contact the institute's academic director Randy Spivey, 615-966-2503.

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Magazine Features Waller for Volunteer Efforts

DarKenya Waller was highlighted in a recent issue of NFocus Magazine in the feature "Model Behavior." Waller is executive director of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. The article features her volunteer work with the YWCA, serving on its board and providing pro bono legal help to women and children escaping domestic violence who are in the YWCA’s shelters. The series features "volunteers from behind the scenes and place them in the spotlight to honor their tireless devotion to local nonprofits."

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Legal Public Service Efforts Recognized During EJU Conference

More than 200 lawyers, law students and advocates gathered last week at the 2019 Equal Justice University (EJU) in Murfreesboro under the theme “One Voice, One Person, One Vote: Reflecting on Tennessee’s Role in the 19th Amendment and Exploring New Voting Rights Frontiers.” TBA President Sarah Sheppeard was the keynote speaker at the event’s Leadership Luncheon. Other highlights included the presentation of the Janice M. Holder Award to AOC Director Deborah Taylor Tate; the presentation of the Founder's Award to Harrison D. McIver III; the presentation of the R. Riney Green Award to Jeannie Kosciolek; and presentation of New Advocate of the Year Awards to Lucy Boateng from Community Legal Center and Benjamin Danford from Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Chief Justice Jeffery Bivins, Justice Connie Clark and former Justice Janice Holder all delivered remarks during the conference. Learn more and see photos of the event.

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