News

TBA Earns Top Pro Bono Award for MLP

The Tennessee Bar Association on April 7 was awarded the Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group. The TBA’s MLP Working Group was established in 2014, including individuals from civil legal aid organizations, private attorneys, in-house and  corporate counsel, physicians and representatives from Tennessee’s medical and hospital professional associations and continues to explore opportunities and best practices for supporting and expanding the reach of MLPs in Tennessee.

TBA Immediate Past-President Jonathan Steen and MLP Working Group Chair Charlie McDaniel accepted the award during the annual MLP Summit, this year held in Indianapolis.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

AG: Fantasy Sports Are 'Illegal Gambling' in the State  
An opinion released in April from Attorney General Hebert Slatery said all fantasy sports contests amount to “illegal gambling” in Tennessee.

“The participants do not control how selected athletes perform in actuality on a given day … Thus, absent legislation specifically exempting fantasy sports contests from the definition of 'gambling,' these contests constitute illegal gambling under Tennessee law,” Slatery writes. The opinion was requested by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

PRO BONO

OTJ Celebrates 5 Years of Free Legal Advice  
Online TN Justice recently celebrated five years of service. The first question was posted to the site April 14, 2011. Since then, OTJ has answered over 11,000 questions, and more than 500 Tennessee attorneys have registered to volunteer. The site has become the model for the national site, ABA Free Legal Answers.

In March 2015, OTJ reached its highest monthly total of questions posted, at 250. More information, as well as registration to volunteer with OTJ, is available online at onlinetnjustice.org.  

BAR EXAM

Bar Exam Passage Rates Show Mixed Results 
The passage rate for candidates taking the Tennessee bar exam for the first time in February improved slightly from a year ago. Of the 195 candidates taking the exam for the first time, 67.7 percent passed in 2016, up from 63.7 percent in 2015. Of the 183 repeating the exam, 33.3 percent passed.

Last February, 45.3 percent of those repeating the exam passed. Among Tennessee law schools, graduates from Vanderbilt Law School recorded the highest passage rate, with 92.3 percent passing.

YOUR TBA

Updates Bring Changes to TBA Website Access
The TBA is making a number of updates to the TBA.org website to improve the way you find and use legal news, opinions and other information. A change to make data on the site more secure now requires that you log into the website to access court opinions and certain other documents. If you have not previously logged in to the website, you can do so by going to the “Log In” or “My Account” links at the top right of TBA.org and request a new password.

LAW PRACTICE

Female Lawyers, Judges Earn Less Than Males 
In all law-related jobs, median pay for female workers in 2014 was 51.6 percent of the pay received by male workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The data also revealed median pay for full-time female lawyers was 77.4 percent of the pay earned by their male counterparts, and female judges, magistrates and other judicial workers earned 71.8 percent of men’s pay in those occupations.

“Women are often labeled as greedy and aggressive and not team driven when asking for a well-deserved raise and bonus,” said ABA President Laurel Bellows, reported the ABA Journal.

YOUNG LAWYERS

Barker Is New YLD VP 
The Young Lawyers Division has elected Christian Barker of Barker Nashville PLLC as vice president to serve for the 2016-2017 bar year. He will go on to serve as president-elect, then as president of the YLD during the 2018-2019 membership year. Barker has served as the division’s Public Service Committee Chair for the 2015-2016 bar year. The election was held via electronic ballot and was open to all young lawyers in the TBA. 

High School Mock Trial Another Success 
Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) won the 2016 State High School Mock Trial Competition in Nashville in March, defeating the Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association (CSTHEA) team in the championship round.

Nashville lawyer Wade Cowan is the coach for MBA and Hamilton County Chancellor Jeff Atherton is the coach of CSTHEA.

MBA will now represent Tennessee in national competition, May 12-14 in Boise, Idaho. The two-day state championship, sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, involved 16 teams and nearly 200 volunteers, including lawyers, law students and paralegals. In addition, sitting judges in the state presided over the trial rounds at the Metro Davidson County Courthouse, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee presiding over the championship match Saturday evening. Complete results and photos are available on TBA.org.

COURTS

Former ABA Presidents to Senate: Consider Garland 
In April, 15 former presidents of the American Bar Association said in a letter to U.S. Senate leaders that “there is no election-year exception” and called for hearings on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The Associated Press reports the legal advocates said the GOP blockade is “injecting politics into the courts that materially hampers the effective operation' of the judiciary.”

Indigent Representation Task Force to Meet in Public Hearings 
The Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force in April announced a series of statewide public hearings through July, and added three advisory counsel members by voice vote: Jason Girchner, Tory Johnson and Christina Zawisza. Candi Henry will also be supporting the task force.

The Task Force also heard from four groups interested in the issues: the Sixth Amendment Center, Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference, Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference.

Supreme Court Cases Now Available Online  
The Tennessee State Library and Archives has launched a new online ordering system for state Supreme Court cases that allows researchers to request cases dating back to the early 1800s. Cases may be requested in hard copy or digital scans. The records were formerly available only by visiting Nashville.

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