COVER STORY: This Month’s Top Story

New tax law? Really? Really. The children’s dependency deductions are gone. What’s next? The Child Tax Credit (CTC) helps fill that gap. The cool thing about credits is that they are dollar for dollar reductions of tax, not a reduction of taxable income. This means that the parents’ marginal federal income tax rate does not impact the value associated with the reduction. 

FEATURED: This Month’s Articles

By Alison A. Cave

Many different ethical issues can arise when a lawyer is an estate planning practitioner. Generally, clients tend to be older, financially established and perhaps have a blended family. Clients will often request the lawyer to prepare documents for multiple members of the family or even a family business. Sometimes, the clients rely heavily on someone else to communicate information to the lawyer. These types of scenarios lead to numerous ethical issues.

COLUMNS: Quick Reads on Timely Topics

President's Perspective

Newly inaugurated Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has repeatedly stated that one of his main priorities would be criminal justice reform, with a specific focus of spending less on prisons and creating smarter sentencing guidelines. The organized bar has an opportunity to assist Gov. Lee’s administration on this much-needed initiative.

In fiscal year 2017-2018, the Tennessee legislature appropriated more than $994 million to the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) and just over $1 billion was included in the budget for 2018-2019. TDOC’s statistics show that the total felon inmate population was 26,998 in 2008 and increased nearly 12 percent to 30,161 in 2017. The male inmate population increased 8.4 percent during this time frame, while the female population increased a staggering 58 percent during this same period. TDOC reports that its operations allow for a capacity of only 23,106 inmates.

Book Review

Many of you know that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a bit of a celebrity. Her sharp wit and incredibly bright brain draw followers to her like moths to flame whether she’s sitting at the opera in Santa Fe or performing her duties on the United States Supreme Court. Given who she is and what her life experience has been, it makes sense that her book, My Own Words, which she wrote with the assistance of Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, would draw attention, interest, praise and appreciation.

History's Verdict

William Blount is one of the most important figures in Tennessee history. He had been a leader in North Carolina, serving in the Continental Congress and in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and thus he signed the U.S. Constitution. As governor of the Southwest Territory appointed by President Washington in 1790, he was the key player in maneuvering the territory into statehood in 1796. When Blount became one of Tennessee’s first two U.S. senators the same year, he commanded a powerful political faction and owned millions of acres through shrewd speculation.1

Crime & Punishment

I’ve told many clients, “If you are not sorry, don’t apologize.”

Even though acceptance of responsibility is often cited as one of the most important factors at sentencing, I’ve always thought judges hear insincere apologies so often that apologies can do more harm than good. I think it is better to be quiet than insincere.

Apparently, there is research that backs up this hunch, at least in part.  And very thoughtful social scientists have provided framework for evaluating whether an apology will be effective.

Spark

You’re killing it in your job and loving (or hating) the high stakes you are faced with each day, but a lot of research says you will be better off if, when you leave the office, you do something straight-up enjoyable. “It may seem counterintuitive that if you want to get ahead at work, you should make time for a life outside of it,” according CNBC. “But career coaches and business leaders alike say that having a hobby is key to being able to handle work-life stress and thinking creatively.”1 Study after study says these nonwork, fun activities can aid work performance, improve physical and mental health, reduce stress, improve focus and increase happiness.

YOU NEED TO KNOW: News, Success, Licensure & Discipline

Honorees of the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award in attendance at the 2019 Association of Women Attorneys banquet are shown below, from left: Ellen B. Vergos (1998); Linda L. Holmes (2002); Hon. Janice M. Holder (1999); Jocelyn Wurzburg (2019); Amy J. Amundsen (2007); Barbara Zoccola (2006); Hon. Claudia Haltom (2018); and Blanchard E. Tual (1995), the only male honored in AWA history. Frances Loring, who died in 2009, was the first recipient of the award (in 1989) now named after her.

DISABILITY INACTIVE

Stewart County lawyer Billy Dudley Cobb was placed on disability inactive status by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Jan. 25 for an indefinite period of time. Cobb may not practice law while on inactive status. He may return to the practice of law after reinstatement, which requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.

Davidson County lawyer John Lee Kennedy was placed on disability inactive status by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Jan. 25 for an indefinite period of time. Kennedy may not practice law while on inactive status. He may return to the practice of law after reinstatement, which requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law.

Henley Awarded TBA YLD CASA Volunteer of the Year

Gail Henley of Madisonville was awarded the 2018-2019 CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) Volunteer of the Year Award by the TBA Young Lawyers Division. Now in its 15th year, the award is designed to recognize the outstanding efforts of a CASA volunteer who goes the extra mile in his or her work with a CASA program in Tennessee.

Henley, who was nominated by CASA Monroe’s Executive Director Alisa Hobbs, has been a volunteer with the organization for 10 years.