Posted by: Sarah Sheppeard on Mar 1, 2020

Journal Issue Date: March 2020

Journal Name: Vol 56 No 3

Our continuing legal education (CLE) team has been busy this year. We have had more than 2,400 registrants in live programs and an additional 9,600 at online programs. Our annual Health Law Forum had 407 attendees, beating last year’s attendance record. Speaking of CLE, did you know that the cost of your membership includes three free hours of CLE? These can be applied to both online and on-site programs. If you have pre-paid credits you will not be using, you can donate them to the TBA Tuition Assistance Program, thus allowing colleagues with financial hardships to fulfill their CLE requirements.

We have had eight Court Square Programs, in which we partner with local lawyers and judges in areas outside of the major metropolitan venues in an effort to reach members we don’t always see. There have been seven CLE Blasts and 12 forums in 12 different cities. Other programs this bar year include completing our second Public Service Academy, which provided lawyers from across the state with tools and resources to run for local public office.  We also celebrated our 36th year of the TBA SCOTUS Academy. Twelve Tennessee lawyers were sworn in for admission to practice before the United States Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts. The TBA also welcomed our new class of future bar leaders into the Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law (TBALL) program.

Among the resources available for our members are a new and improved “Solo in a Box” toolkit and an updated Alimony Bench Book. Our Tennessee Bar Journal continues to be a premier resource to our members. It has included the publication of more than 13 substantive articles and 28 columns and book reviews so far during this bar year.  

I am especially proud of the health insurance program that was launched in 2019 through TBA Member Insurance Solutions (TBAMS). It allows law firm members access to insurance through Humana at competitive rates with no underwriting. This program can be helpful to any size law firm, but it is especially beneficial to the solo-practitioner with one W-2 employee, who would have trouble finding affordable insurance through other means. There was an open enrollment period in the late fall. In case you missed it, there will be another open enrollment period this spring. Follow TBA Today, our email newsletter, for more information about this and other benefits, legal news and recent court opinions. 

Also visit our new website at tba.org and, in particular, the Member Center, which contains a vast amount of information about the TBA’s benefits and services. If you have not yet gone through the log-in process, please do so and check it out. Because of the new platform, a change of password is a simple but necessary step. I think you will be impressed at the quantity and quality of member benefits available there. Don’t miss the discounts from various vendors or the free legal research tool, Fastcase.

The TBA Podcast Network was launched recently, with five channels so far including a wellness channel, YLD channel and a legislative affairs channel. Speaking of legislative affairs, we are actively involved on the Hill in Nashville lobbying for bills that will be beneficial to our members and to the judicial system. Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed budget includes a decrease in the professional privilege tax, an issue that we are strongly supporting. Also, the governor has proposed an additional $5 million dollars in recurrent funding for indigent representation. This funding is badly needed and greatly appreciated. Access to Justice continues to be a key focus of our organization. Finally, we are deeply involved in developing a new strategic plan for the association so that your TBA can do even more for you in the future.

The strength of this bar association is the result of an excellent executive director and assistant executive director, a devoted staff, a hard-working Board of Governors and House of Delegates, an enthusiastic and creative Young Lawyers Division, and hundreds of members who volunteer their time to sections, committees and another aspects of the TBA. I appreciate all that they do for our organization.. 

SARAH Y. SHEPPEARD  is a shareholder in the  Knoxville office of Lewis Thomason and a Rule 31 Listed Mediator. You can reach her at  SSheppeard@LewisThomason.com.