Posted by: Journal News on Apr 24, 2020

Journal Issue Date: May 2020

Journal Name: Vol. 56 No. 5

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. 

 

Blakney to Serve as TBA President in 2022

Knoxville lawyer Tasha Blakney was elected to the office of vice president of the TBA. She will ascend to office of president-elect in 2021 and lead the organization as president for the 2022-2023 bar year. A partner at Eldridge & Blakney PC in Knoxville, she is engaged in criminal defense and general civil litigation on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law, with honors, in 1999. Blakney has been a member of the TBA  Board of Governors for the past 11 years, including service on the executive committee. She is a TBA Leadership Law graduate and served in the House of Delegates for the TBA and the ABA. She is a past president of the Knoxville Bar Association and the TBA Young Lawyers Division.

COURTS

Court Extends Comment Period for Rule 7 Amendments  The Tennessee Supreme Court has extended the period to file comments on proposed amendments to Rule 7, Sections 6.01 and 10.5 dealing with the standard for character and fitness, conditional admission and various technical corrections. Based on a motion from the TBA to extend the comment period, the court has set a new deadline of June 22. Comments should reference the docket number and be emailed to
appellatecourtclerk
@tncourts.gov.

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear May Oral Arguments by Phone  The U.S. Supreme Court will use phone conferences to hear oral arguments in May, including those associated with a landmark case involving President Trump’s financial records. The court will hear 10 cases over six days by teleconference to abide by social-distancing policies. News media and the public will have access to a live audio feed of the arguments — an unprecedented move —SCOTUSBlog reports. Other cases to be heard involve questions of religious liberty, “faithless electors” and ObamaCare’s contraception requirement, The Hill reports. 

PANDEMIC Resources

Keep up with law-related updates, cancellations and information at tba.org/PandemicResources. Learn more on page 12 of this issue. 

The National Conference of Bar Presidents’ Council member and former TBA president Jason Long recently interviewed TBA President Sarah Sheppeard about the TBA’s reaction to devastating tornadoes this spring, followed by the coronavirus outbreak.  “In those few days, from the 10th or 11th of March to the 13th, everything changed dramatically. …  We realized that we were dealing with something that was going to affect all aspects of life and the legal system,” she said. “The bar association has been a conduit of information — we had tools in place to help, as all these dominoes keep falling.

LAW PRACTICE

Law Firms Cut Salaries, Offer Unpaid Leave, Cancel Summer Programs Firms across the country are taking steps to protect their cash flow by cutting partner and associate salaries, offering unpaid leave, furloughing employees who are not able to work from home, and canceling summer associate programs, Above the Law reports. In Tennessee, the publication reports that Memphis-based law firm Baker Donelson has reduced pay 20% firmwide and furloughed less than 4% of employees.

Husch Blackwell, with an office in Chattanooga, reportedly has cut equity partner draws by 15% percent and salaries for all managing directors and c-level executives by 10%.

Loeb & Loeb, with offices in Nashville, reportedly has cut pay for lawyers and staff. For capital partners, monthly draws have been reduced by 20% while pay has been cut by 15% for income partners, senior counsel, of counsel, associates and senior staff, and 10% for paralegals and other staff.

At Fisher Phillips, with offices in Memphis and Nashville, salaries reportedly have been cut across the board. Associates, salaried staff, and hourly employees have had checks cut by 20%, while those unable to work remotely have been furloughed.

Greenspoon Marder, with offices in Nashville, reportedly has implemented firmwide pay cuts and reportedly laid off 40 staff members and five attorneys.

Ogletree Deakins, with offices in Memphis and Nashville, reportedly is cutting both work-week hours and salaries. The  firm is also canceling its 2020 summer associate program, the Daily Memphian reported.

YOUR TBA

Update Your Address to Receive TBA Mail at Home If you prefer to receive your Tennessee Bar Journal and other TBA mail temporarily at your home address, that’s easy to accomplish. You can update your mailing address while leaving your office information as your tba.org profile. This one-minute video at https://tinyurl.com/ybnfkwk4 will show you how to do that. 

Enroll in TBA’s Group Health Insurance  If you haven’t enrolled in the TBA group health insurance plan for 2020, you have another chance. Mid-year open enrollment continues through May 31, with an effective date of July 1. Coverage will run through the end of the year. This fully-funded plan is available exclusively to TBA members, who can take advantage of an online quoting tool, find answers on a FAQ page or contact TBA’s insurance partner at tbams@tnbar.org.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE

Legal Support for Tornado Survivors Continues  More than a month after a series of deadly tornadoes hit West and Middle Tennessee, and later in Chattanooga, the legal community continues to provide support and advice to those affected. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that over 5,000 registrations have been filed by affected Tennesseans, and while on-site Disaster Resource Centers have closed to minimize risks from the COVID-19 virus, applicants can still register online or by phone in advance of the May 4 deadline.  Information about all of the resources is available at www.HELP4TN.org.  

ATJ Commission Encourages Help for Others  The Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission kicked off its annual Help4TNDay celebration on April 8. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and tornadoes that have impacted Tennessee, the theme of this year’s initiative has shifted to “Innovation and Responsiveness.” 

The commission is promoting virtual and telephonic legal clinics as well as other ways to provide legal help. Attorneys are encouraged to provide pro bono service however they can. Two great ways to get started are signing up to answer civil legal questions on TN Free Legal Answers or signing up with the TBA to help tornado victims, at www.tba.org/Tornado_
Volunteers.