News

Pro Bono Event Pushes Fundraising Past Half Million Mark

Tennessee lawyers helped raise more than $45,000 to help legal aid programs in the state at the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala March 5 in Nashville. Now in its 10th year, the event has raised more than half a million dollars to support pro bono efforts that engage in-house and corporate counsel.

This year’s event was hosted by Bass, Berry & Sims, and featured honors for an outstanding law firm and legal department, recognized for ongoing commitment to promoting access to justice programs for low-income and vulnerable Tennesseans. This year, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz and International Paper Company were honored for their successful efforts. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee provided the keynote address.

See more photos at http://www.tba.org/news/corporate-counsel-pro-bono-initiative-gala-celeb...

COURTS

Funding for Nashville Courthouse Clears Final Hurdle  
The new Nashville federal courthouse, a $182 million project, cleared its final hurdle March 2 after passing through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The announcement comes from the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, who said the city has needed a new courthouse for more than 20 years for safety reasons. WKRN reports it is unclear when work will begin on the project.

Page Approved by Legislature for Supreme Court 
The House Ad Hoc Committee on Judicial Confirmation and Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 16 unanimously approved Roger Page to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Page was appointed to the position by Gov. Bill Haslam in January, but was subject to approval by the House and Senate committees under the Conference Committee on Judicial Confirmation’s recently adopted judicial confirmation process.

While speaking before the House committee, Page expressed the importance of improving the state’s indigent defense system. He also said he will recuse himself from any cases that present a conflict of interest with Page’s wife, Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy.

LEGISLATURE

Legislature Named 'Most Conservative' in the Country 
The Tennessee General Assembly has been named the most conservative legislature in the country by the American Conservative Union. Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, accepted the award Saturday at the group’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

EDUCATION

Law School Debt, Anxiety Rising
Almost 70 percent of law students borrowing a hefty amount expect to graduate owing more than $120,000 in student loans, an amount that is up from 2011. A survey of 80 campuses in the annual Law School Survey of Student Engagement found that the increasing debt levels are contributing to increased stress and anxiety for law students. The survey also suggests, according to The National Law Journal, that minority students and those with lower LSAT scores are paying more than their white and Asian classmates and those with higher LSAT scores.

TBA Launches Law Blog 
The TBA’s Law Blog has been redesigned to help you stay up-to-date with Tennessee news that impacts your practice. New features include a search-by-content option that allows you to quickly access archived stories in news categories, including legal news, the General Assembly and the Tennessee Supreme Court. Opinions are also accessible and sortable from the page. The blog is updated throughout the day and is compatible with your smartphone and tablet, so make the TBA Law Blog your online source for Tennessee legal news.

CIVILITY

Ginsburg, Scalia Had the Ability to See Past Differences, Models of Civility 
With the Feb. 13 death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, decisions and the makeup of the court have become more uncertain. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg referred to Scalia as her “buddy,” the two held polar opposite beliefs yet also held a fast friendship. They were examples of how to be civil and respectful while disagreeing.

PRO BONO

OTJ Reaches 500 Attorney Volunteers
The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services announced in February that 500 Tennessee attorneys have registered to volunteer with www.OnlineTNJustice.org, a virtual legal advice clinic. Since its launch in April 2011, more than 10,800 questions have been posted to the site. Other states have requested to use the site’s software to create their own statewide virtual legal advice clinics and development of a national platform is underway.

“It really is a great system for lawyers to give back to the community in a way that is convenient and accessible to all parties,”Jill Thrash, an OTJ volunteer attorney, says.

LEGAL SERVICES

2017 LSC Grant Funds Available, RFP Opens April 11 
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announces the availability of grant funds to provide civil legal services to eligible clients duirng 2017.

A Request for Proposals and other information pertaining to the LSC grants process is available at http://www.grants.lsc.gov/grants-grantee-resources during the week of April 11.
LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income residents in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The organizations LSC funds help people who live in households with annual incomes at or below 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

LAW PRACTICE

Women Leaving Criminal Practice, Canadian Study Finds  
A new report commissioned in Canada by the Criminal Lawyers' Association revealed that women are leaving criminal practice at a higher rate than men, CBCNews reports. The study attributes low pay, lack of financial support for maternity leave and being treated differently than male peers by judges as reasons.

“We need diverse perspectives to make sure the law develops in step with social values,” said Breese Davies, vice-president of the CLA.

Payout in Andrews' Case 'Unusually High,' Analyst Says  
A legal analyst told WSMV that the $55 million in damages awarded in March to TV personality Erin Andrews is “unusually high.” From 2014 to 2015, the average monetary award for cases in Tennessee was $404,323. A juror described the trial's nine-days as an “emotional rollercoaster,” and said to The Tennessean that the seven-hour deliberation was “intense” and “heated.” Andrews sought $75 million after secretly being filmed nude in a Nashville hotel.

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