Cover Story: This Month's Top Story

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Working Through the Pandemic

The Tennessee Bar Association has compiled a number of resources for Tennessee lawyers during the COVID-19 epidemic that has spread across the state and around the globe. It is an evolving list, updated every day, as more resources and information becomes available. Find the latest TBA Pandemic Resources updates at

Featured: This Month's Articles

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Listening to Lawyers’ Voices

With offices closed, courts operating under limited conditions and family life jumbled, Tennessee lawyers are working through the pandemic with varying degrees of success and struggle.

To help identify specific problems lawyers are facing and seek solutions to those challenges, the TBA surveyed the legal community to hear the voices of lawyers. The response was overwhelming.

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Navigating the New Paid-Leave Mandates

Social distancing. Flattening the curve. Federally mandated paid leave. A few months ago, these terms didn’t mean much to most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. We address that last one paid leave.

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How to Witness and Notarize Documents While Social-Distancing

As we all adjust our practices and look for ways to act responsibly to protect our communities, one significant hurdle we all face is how best to interact with clients while honoring stay-at-home orders. While emails, telephone and videoconferencing make it relatively easy to continue to communicate with most clients remotely, the execution of some legal documents requiring either a notary or a witness must be done in-person.¹

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Your Mental Health and COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) has created a resource guide to assist attorneys who might be dealing with extra stress and pressure because of the outbreak and related closures. The guide includes resources for mental health, recovery and professional needs. TLAP is free and confidential.

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Coronavirus, Caregivers and Child Custody

Prior to issuance of any stay-at-home order, Little Johnny, a native of Tennessee,1 spent the weekend with Dad as he always does per Mom and Dad’s child custody arrangement. Mom asks Johnny about his weekend, and Johnny tells Mom that Dad took Johnny to every conceivable public accommodation in operation.

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Force Majeure to the Rescue?

While businesses are battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — the most challenging epidemic the world has faced since the Spanish Flu outbreak that occurred after World War I — their contractual obligations do not disappear. Force majeure may, however, excuse those obligations. But as discussed below, force majeure may be a limited potential solution, rather than a panacea.

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What Working Remotely Looks Like

Most Tennessee lawyers are working remotely these days. We thought we’d check in and see how it’s going. These are some of the pictures members sent in. 

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Thoughts on Legal Writing from William Zinsser

The ultimate product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.1

William Zinsser, a lifelong journalist and writing teacher, was born in 1922 in New York City.2 He attended Deerfield Academy and Princeton University, and served as a sergeant in North Africa and Italy in World War II.3

Columns: Quick Reads on Timely Topics

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President's Perspective

Thanks … and Hope

Springtime in East Tennessee is my favorite time of the year. Pink, white and lavender azaleas brighten the landscape. The dogwoods are a spectacular display of white and pink. Each spring is a time of thanks and hope as it appears that the world is coming to life anew before my eyes.

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Day on Torts

50% Fault as a Matter of Law?

An unusual case decided by the Court of Appeals presents an interesting mix of the law of comparative fault and the law of summary judgment: under what circumstances may a trial judge find a plaintiff 50% at fault as a matter of law and dismiss the case before trial?

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Family Matters

International Prenuptial Agreements

In today’s world, practitioners must be ready to handle a prenuptial agreement that has been prepared in a foreign jurisdiction and to prepare a prenuptial agreement that may later be enforced in a jurisdiction other than Tennessee. Knowledge of the best way to enforce the parties’ agreement will be necessary given the multitude of possible differences between jurisdictions.

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Do Little Babies Dream of ... Books?

Stuart A. Burkhalter had an inspiration, not long after he and his wife Julie had their first daughter. 


You Need to Know: News, Success, Licensure & Discipline

Success & Passages

McAngus Goudelock & Courie, a regional insurance defense firm, has hired Emily Bragg for its Memphis office. A graduate of the University of Memphis School of Law, Bragg focuses her practice on premises liability and workers’ compensation. She also is certified in health law. 

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Licensure & Discipline


The law license of Williamson County lawyer Margaret L. Akins was transferred to disability inactive status on March 27. Akins may not practice law while on inactive status. She may return to the practice of law after reinstatement by showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and she is fit to resume the practice of law.

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You Need to Know

A sign of the times, this Zoom shot shows the Tennessee Bar Association staff at its weekly staff meeting. Like the majority of other businesses in the state, the TBA closed its physical office in mid-March until further notice. But the TBA staff has not slowed down — in fact, it has ramped up, with all-new CLE programming, legislative advocacy and increased communications. 

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In Praise of ‘History’s Verdict’

I commend the Journal for the excellent historical articles by Russell Fowler. In an era when many colleges are little more than trade schools, history gets short shrift. It is important for everyone, lawyers especially, to understand the historical background of our world and profession.
— Hon. Robert A. Lanier, Memphis