Links for September 2017

ABA Files Amicus Brief Challenging Cash Bail System

August 11, 2017

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief this week calling the bail system of a Texas county unconstitutional, just before the ABA’s House of Delegates will consider a resolution opposing the use of money bail entirely, the ABA Journal reports. The brief was filed yesterday in O’Donnell v. Harris County, Texas, a case pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs argue that the county’s bail schedule is unconstitutional because it effectively conditions freedom on the defendant’s ability to pay. In the brief, the ABA asks the 5th Circuit to affirm the ruling of a federal judge in Texas, which sided with the plaintiffs and found that the county had been using high bail amounts as “preventative detention.”

Law Schools See Drop in Applicant Numbers

August 11, 2017

Difficulties in the legal job market have deterred many from applying to law school, resulting in better opportunities for those who do apply, reports U.S. News and World Report. Data shows that the average number of applicants at the top 14 schools in the Best Law Schools rankings was 20.6 percent lower for the incoming class of 2016 than it was in 2008. The average number of applicants at lower-ranked law schools plunged 52.3 percent in the same time period. Applicants now also have increased options for scholarships and financial aid awards, according to Aaron N. Taylor with the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence.

New York Bar Ethics Committee Says Lawyers May Not Use Avvo

August 9, 2017

The New York State Bar Association today released two ethics opinions on lawyers and "electronic marketing services," one of which found that lawyers may not ethically utilize Avvo Legal Services. According to the opinion, Avvo’s current structure requires the payment of a “marketing fee” by the lawyer, which the New York Bar’s Committee on Professional Ethics found to be an improper payment. To learn more about consumer-facing services and their use in Tennessee, check out the TBA’s CLE from the Modern Law Practice Series.

TBA to Honor 2 Tennessee Lawyers During ABA Meeting

August 7, 2017

The Tennessee Bar Association will be honoring two Tennessee lawyers with receptions this weekend at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York. On Friday, the TBA and Baker Donelson will honor TBA Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur, and on Saturday, Memphis attorney and former TBA President Buck Lewis will be honored at a reception hosted jointly by the TBA and the University of Tennessee College of Law, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. For information about either of the events, contact Karen Belcher at the TBA.

U.S. Supreme Court E-Filing System to Go Live in November

August 4, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court’s new electronic filing system will begin operation on Nov. 13. Once the system is in place, virtually all new filings will be accessible without cost to the public and legal community. Attorneys who expect to file documents at the Court will register in advance to obtain access to the electronic filing system. Registration will open 4-8 weeks before the system begins operation. Additional information about the system is available through the Supreme Court’s website.

Judge Donald to Receive ABA Women Lawyers of Achievement Honor

August 3, 2017

Judge Bernice Bouie Donald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Memphis will receive the American Bar Association’s 2017 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. Donald will receive the award during the ABA Annual Meeting in New York, alongside four others. “We are honored to recognize this spectacular group of women. We applaud their achievements, knowing that their efforts will inspire a new generation of women lawyers,” said Michele Coleman Mayes, the chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. The award, whose previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, honors outstanding women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence in their area of specialty and have actively paved the way to success for others.

Government Lawyers Report Increased Pressures, Retirements

July 28, 2017

A recent survey shows that 67 percent of government lawyers say that scarce resources and tight budgets are adding pressure to their workloads. And 76 percent of the government lawyers surveyed in the Thomson Reuters study expect their workloads to increase in the next few years. The survey projects that nearly 50 percent of the full state and local government workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2019, and that about a third of all federal workers are eligible for retirement this year. The ABA Journal has more.

Survey: Women Make Up About 35 Percent of Law Firms

July 25, 2017

A recent survey found that women made up 34.8 percent of lawyers at the end of 2016, the ABA Journal reports. Law360’s annual “Glass Ceiling Report” collected data from a sampling of 300 firms in the U.S. The previous year’s figure was slightly lower at 34 percent. The percentage of women as equity partners is less than 20 percent, virtually unchanged from the previous year.

TALS Announces Access to Justice Award Winners

July 25, 2017

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) today announced the winners of its 2017 Access to Justice Awards. Caitlin “Cat” Moon and Larry Bridgesmith of Legal Alignment are recipients of the Janice M. Holder Award in recognition of their work addressing the intersection of legal needs and technical solutions in innovative ways, including collaborative work with the TBA. Other award winners include Carol Gish and Ashley Holliday from West Tennessee Legal Services, recipients of the B. Riney Green Award, and New Advocate of the Year honoree Christina Magráns-Tillery of Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The honorees will be celebrated during TALS’ Equal Justice University Conference Aug. 30 in Murfreesboro.

TBA Honored For Modern Law Practice Series

July 20, 2017

TBA Leadership Development and Innovations Coordinator Kate Prince with TNSAE President Roland Myers.

The Tennessee Bar Association's educational series on the evolving legal market today was recognized as the best in the state by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives. The series was conceived and implemented by the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market under the leadership of former TBA President Gail Ashworth. The Modern Law Practice Series consisted of four programs educating Tennessee attorneys about online dispute resolution, legal services management companies (such as Counsel on Call), artificial intelligence and consumer-facing services (such as Avvo and LegalZoom). All programs are still available for viewing as webcasts.

Report Finds Nashville Misdemeanor Defendants Often Not Told of Right to Counsel

August 14, 2017

An American Bar Association report is claiming that in Nashville, indigent defendants accused of a misdemeanor and facing jail time are not consistently informed of their right to counsel, ProPublica reports. The document, created by the ABA section on civil rights and social justice, was released on Friday, and is based on research conducted by volunteer lawyers in Sept. 2016. It states that this failure by the Metro Nashville justice system is “an extremely serious and pervasive problem that can no longer be ignored or tolerated.” The observations in Nashville are the launch of a larger, national project to review practices in misdemeanor courts in other states throughout the country.

ABA President Condemns Charlottesville Violence

August 14, 2017

American Bar Association President Linda Klein responded yesterday to weekend violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one protester and two officers dead. “The ABA knows the principles that govern our country – respect for the rule of law, tolerance for the beliefs and freedoms of others, and a deep dedication to uphold the Constitution – are strong and will prevail over the forces of hate and racism," she said.

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