Great Member Benefits, Upgraded Website Among TBA Services

I am both honored and humbled to serve as president of the Tennessee Bar Association for the 2019-2020 bar year. In preparation for this role, I have received much advice and given extensive consideration to what projects or initiatives to undertake. First and foremost, I plan to continue the great work that is already underway.

So, what is your TBA doing? We continue to expand our robust  member benefits program through which we partner with vendors to provide products of benefit to attorneys at discounted rates. A partial list of available services and programs includes savings on package shipping, travel and office supplies, as well as free online legal research, a practice management system, and payroll and credit card processing systems. Numerous types of insurance are available for attorneys, their firms and their families, and we are working to improve these options. Our website has extensive information about all of our member benefits.

Speaking of the website, this summer we are launching a new website and database program to make it easier for our members to obtain information about the TBA, its activities and its member benefits. It will also facilitate communications among our members and provide information for the members of the public. 

We plan to roll out a practice management training program for solo and small-firm practitioners to help them make their practices more lucrative and more efficient. Subject matter will include business development, social media and marketing, and practice and case management, all with an emphasis on modern legal technology and innovations. We are also implementing a software program called “HotDocs.” It includes a library of automated templates that TBA members can use to generate custom legal documents and forms.

Our mentoring program, which fosters relationships between lawyer mentors and mentees, is being redesigned. It will incorporate traditional and non-traditional mentoring experiences, online and in-person opportunities, and suggested mentoring practices for small firms.

Continuing legal education is another major focus of the TBA. In 2018, we provided 49,207 hours of CLE through a total of 311 programs, including both online and onsite seminars. We are continuing to provide quality CLE today in a wide range of topics and truly do include something for everyone. 

Our Young Lawyers Division is doing tremendously well. Long recognized as a public service arm of the TBA, the YLD recently completed one of its most successful high school mock trial programs ever. The winning team, from Agathos Classical School, went on to win the national mock trial competition. The YLD has many projects underway, including several clinics to provide services for the public. They are also focusing on young lawyer well-being.

You might not be aware of the extensive work of the TBA in the area of government affairs. Much legislation has an impact on our clients or our profession. There is a huge collaborative effort involving our sections, government affairs committee, team of legislative counsel, House of Delegates and Board of Governors to positively affect the work product of the General Assembly.

I could continue for pages. This organization has approximately 12,500 members, including lawyers in all areas of the law and of the state, and some out of state. We have solo practitioners, big law lawyers, in-house counsel, litigators, transactional attorneys and educators among our members. And your TBA provides extensive services available for all. We have 33 sections, each focusing on a particular practice area or area of interest to attorneys. We have 17 standing committees, each of which deals with matters of interest and concern to the legal profession, running the gamut from CLE to racial and ethnic diversity.

The bar association is thriving because of its excellent staff, its many dedicated volunteer leaders and its members. If you are already involved, thank you. If you are not, join a section, come to a CLE seminar or other bar-sponsored program, and/or read TBAToday. Go to our website at tba.org and explore what the TBA can do for you. Perhaps you might sign up for a member benefit or program of which you were totally unaware.

As you can tell, I am very proud of this organization. My biggest goal for this bar year is to follow the high standards set by years of my predecessors and to leave it better than I found it.

To accomplish this, I welcome your help.
 

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

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