News

Tennessee Legal Leaders Represent State at Equal Justice Conference

Nearly 30 members of the Tennessee legal community joined a record crowd at the 2019 Equal Justice Conference in Louisville last week. The annual event drew close to 1,200 lawyers, law students and members of the judiciary, who discussed the delivery of legal services to the poor and low-income individuals in need of legal assistance. Those representing Tennessee included Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Access to Justice Commission liaison Justice Connie Clark, ATJ Commission Chair and past TBA President Gail Ashworth, TBA Vice-president Michelle Greenway Sellers, TBA ATJ Committee Chair Jim Barry and TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson, as well as representatives from legal service organizations across the state. Former TBA President Buck Lewis serves as chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, which co-sponsors the annual conference. 
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Free Screening of 'Aging Matters' Documentary, Legal Talk Scheduled for Tomorrow in Nashville

Nashville Public Television tomorrow will host a free screening and discussion of NPT’s Aging Matters: Legal Help documentary. The event takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Belmont University College of Law’s Randall and Sadie Baskin Center and is co-sponsored by the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability and Belmont University College of Law. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion withTennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark, Ashley Holliday of West Tennessee Legal Services and Tim Takacs of Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law. The event is free, but RSVPs are required to attend.
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Smith Leaves Pro Bono Post; Recognized for Service

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced recently that longtime employee Lucinda Smith, director of the firm-wide Volunteer Lawyers Program, is leaving the firm after 16 years, the Tennessee Tribune reports. Andrae P. Crismon Sr., managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office, has been promoted to take over Smith’s role. Smith has led Legal Aid Society’s pro bono work since joining the firm in 2003. She initiated the firmwide Volunteer Lawyers Program in 2014, helping to expand pro bono support from two to 48 counties in Middle Tennessee by developing and strengthening partnerships with law firms in Nashville. In this position, she created partnerships with law firms and lawyers that provided volunteer lawyer resources to represent up to 2,500 clients annually.
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Tennessee Justice Center Event Honors Organization's Heroes

The Tennessee Justice Center honored five of its supporters during its annual Mother's Day Luncheon yesterday in Nashville. Those honored for their strength and determination in support of vulnerable Tennessee families included David Manning, Manny Martins, Pamela Cardoso, the Rev. Henry Blaze III and Nancy Anness. See photos from the event.
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2019 Equal Justice Conference Planned for This Week in Louisville

More than a thousand stakeholders involved in efforts to expand access to justice nationally for underserved U.S. residents will explore strategies and issues for improving delivery of legal services at a May 8-11 conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The event is sponsored by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Past TBA President Buck Lewis serves as Chair of this ABA Committee. Tennessee will send a delegation of 30 attendees. Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton and Kentucky Associate Justice Michelle Keller will deliver keynote remarks.
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Legal Aid Seeking Attorney Volunteers for Clinic on Saturday

Legal Aid Society is hosting its monthly McHugh Clinic at the Belmont Ministry Center on Saturday. Its team will be joined by attorneys from Harpeth Hills Church of Christ. Volunteers from all practice areas of the law are also encouraged to attend. Ample support provided to new volunteers. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at 2005 12th Ave. South, Nashville, Tennessee, 37204. For more information please contact Jorge Salles Diaz at jsallesdiaz@las.org or  615-780-7131.
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Volunteers Needed for Thursday Evening Clinic in Franklin

Mercy Health Clinic and Legal Aid Society are partnering to host their monthly Legal Help Clinic at St. Andrew Lutheran Church. The clinic will be Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at 908 Murfreesboro Road, Franklin, Tennessee, 37064. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. Plenty of materials will be available to assist volunteers. To volunteer or for more information please contact Jorge Salles Diaz, 615-780-7131.
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Bass Berry & Sims Launches Pro Bono Program

Bass, Berry & Sims has announced the launch of a comprehensive new Pro Bono Program, which includes the BBS Fellowship. The fellowship will allow one or two attorneys across the firm’s four offices to spend up to six months serving full-time in a pro bono capacity within the community. The first BBS Fellowship placement began on April 22, when attorney Angie Bergman started a six-month fellowship at the Choosing Justice Initiative (CJI) to advocate for bail reform in Nashville’s criminal courts. The firm also created a Pro Bono Member position, allowing a partner of the firm to dedicate half of his/her work to pro bono activities and administration of the firm’s program. Attorney David Esquivel – a long-time advocate of pro bono and access-to-justice initiatives – will serve in this capacity.
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UTK Honors Law Women Student Group for Volunteer Service

The University of Tennessee recently awarded the College of Law’s Law Women student organization with its 2019 Charles R. Burchett Citation for Extraordinary Contributions to Campus Life. The group was chosen for its commitment to community engagement, diversity and volunteerism. The organization hosted a number of activities including a student-faculty mixer, a leadership lunch, a career development panel discussion, and even a self-defense class. Members were highlighted through social media spotlights, and law students were paired with faculty for mentoring sessions. Additionally, the members of Law Women provided nearly 4,000 pro bono hours of legal aid for people across the state.
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Legal Community Promotes Access to Justice at Pro Bono Summit

The Access to Justice Commission recently held the 2019 Pro Bono Summit in Nashville, bringing together lawyers, judges, and other experts around the common cause of extending civil legal aid to as many Tennesseans as possible. “We estimate that at any given time at least 1.3 million people in Tennessee are either at or are just above the poverty line, but have a civil legal issue that needs attention,” said Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark, who spoke at the event about the need for access to justice in the state. She pointed out that the state’s primary legal aid organizations, which are dedicated to providing civil legal support, together employ only about 90 attorneys.
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Legal Department, Hospital Honored at Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala

The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) and International Paper were both honored for their commitment to pro bono services during Saturday’s 13th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala in Nashville. The event is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel. ETCH was honored for its medical-legal partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET). The award was accepted by Alex Brinson, ETCH Family Services attorney. International Paper was recognized for the pro bono efforts of its legal department. Sharon Ryan, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, accepted the award. See photos from the event, which also featured keynote speaker Eve Runyon, president and chief executive officer for the Pro Bono Institute.

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HELP4TN Day Kicks off a Month of Access to Justice Activities

The Third Annual HELP4TN Day is tomorrow, kicking off a month of more than 100 events and activities aimed at bringing free legal resources to Tennesseans in need. The Tennessee Supreme Court launched the effort at a press conference today. “In the past 10 years, we have seen Tennessee go from having a somewhat dismal record on access to justice to regularly being listed among the top 10 states nationally,” Justice Connie Clark, who is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Commission, said. “This is the direct result of groups and attorneys coming together to solve this problem. Access to Justice is a priority across the state, and we are making a difference in the lives of Tennesseans."

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Mercy Health Clinic, Legal Aid Society Seeking Volunteers for Franklin Clinic

Mercy Health Clinic and Legal Aid Society are hosting a monthly clinic Thursday 5 - 7 p.m. in St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 908 Murfreesboro Road, Franklin, 37064. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information please contact Jorge Salles Diaz, 615-780-7131.
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CCPBI Gala to Feature Pro Bono Institute’s Runyon

The TBA Access to Justice Committee, in partnership with the TBA Corporate Counsel Section and the Association of Corporate Counsel, is hosting the 13th annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala on April 6 in Nashville. The gala, which will be held at the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, will feature remarks from Eve Runyon, president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute. The deadline to become an event sponsor or purchase tickets is Friday. Contact Liz Todaro, TBA Access to Justice Director, for more information.
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Napier-Looby, Legal Aid Seek Volunteers for Nashville Clinic

The Napier-Looby Bar Association and Legal Aid Society have scheduled a Free Legal Help Clinic on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Watson Grove Baptist Church, 1415 Horton Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37212. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information contact Jorge Salles Diaz, 615-780-7131.
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Jam for Justice to Benefit Memphis CLC on April 20

Matt Mulqueen, vice oresident of the Community Legal Center Board in Memphis, is hosting an event to help celebrate the CLC's 25th anniversary. The "Jam for Justice" will take place on April 20 at B-Side Bar inside Minglewood Hall, 1555 Madison Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Great local music from John Paul Keith, Grace Askew and Cameron Bethany from Unapologetic. Tickets are $15 and all proceeds benefit the work of the CLC.
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MALS Seeking New CEO

Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) is currently searching for a new Chief Executive Officer, a position that will lead the firm’s team at offices in Memphis and Covington. Qualified candidates are preferred to have at least 10 years of management experience. Applications should be e-mailed to HR@ malsi.org in Word or PDF format. Inquiries regarding this position may be directed to Elaine St. Clemmons, chief operations officer. Read more about the position on TBA JobLink.
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Belmont Honors Nellis with ‘Champion for Justice’ Award

Belmont University College of Law recently honored Clifford M. Nellis, founder and executive director of Chicago's Lawndale Christian Legal Center, with the Champion for Justice Award. The Lawndale Christian Legal Center has grown to include 45 employees who not only offer direct services to thousands of youth and young adults, but also lead cross-sector partnerships between government and nonprofit leaders in Chicago and as far away as New Delhi, India. In addition, Nellis helped establish the first Restorative Justice Community Court for emerging adults in Chicago, and he has served as president of the Chicago Bar Association Legal Aid Council.
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Belmont University and Legal Aid Seeking Volunteers for Nashville Clinic

Belmont University and the Legal Aid Society have scheduled a Free Legal Help Clinic on March 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Belmont Ministry Center, 2005 12th Ave. South, Nashville, 37204.  All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information please contact Jorge Salles Diaz, 615-780-7131.
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Volunteers Needed for Expungement Clinic in Nashville on April 27

The Music City Community Courts program is seeking volunteer attorneys for an Expungement Clinic & Resource Fair, scheduled for April 27 at Magness – Potter Community Center, Salvation Army’s Red Shield East Campus, 611 Stockell St., Nashville, Tennessee 37207. The clinic will have check-in for the pre-registered participants at 9 to 9:30 a.m. and will start at 10:15 a.m. All volunteer attorneys are asked to arrive at 9:30 to 10 a.m. for orientation. Sign up to volunteer via email.
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LSC Funding Threatened, Despite Bipartisan Support

For the third year in a row, the White House has proposed eliminating all federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation. The American Bar Association and LSC yesterday responded with a call for increased funding for LSC and noted the organization's "broad bipartisan support in Congress." LSC is the largest funder of civil legal aid to low-income Americans, and last year received $410 million in federal funds, a $25 million increase from the previous year. For the 2020 fiscal year, LSC is requesting $539 million to be distributed across 132 independent legal aid organizations serving every county in the U.S. The ABA also urged opposition to the Trump administration's proposal to do away with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which provides student loan forgiveness to qualified participants after 10 years of public service work.
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Alaska Supreme Court Issues Call for Pro Bono Earthquake Relief Work

Following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the state late last year, the Alaska Supreme Court has issued an order allowing out-of-state lawyers to provide volunteer legal services to low-income Alaskans affected by the earthquake. The ABA Journal reports that the Alaskan legal community hopes to have the participation from at least one lawyer in every state. Lawyers can volunteer at a time and place convenient to them through ABA Free Legal Answers, an online portal that remotely connects pro bono lawyers with low-income individuals. The Alaska version of the site now accepts out-of-state registrations.
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TJC Names Barry to Board of Directors

The Tennessee Justice Center has named Jim Barry to its Board of Directors. Barry retired in 2018 as Chief Counsel Corporate Litigation for International Paper Company. He came to International Paper in 1999 from Union Camp Corporation, where he was Assistant General Counsel. He currently serves as Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Access to Justice Committee and is a member of the Memphis Bar Association Access to Justice Committee. Barry is also co-chair of the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative.
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Belmont University and Legal Aid Seeking Volunteers for a Clinic in Nashville

Legal Aid Society has scheduled a free legal help clinic in Nashville on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Belmont Ministry Center, 2005 12th Ave. South. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information please contact Jorge Salles Diaz, 615-780-7131.
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Legal Aid Society Hosting Clinic in Franklin in Partnership with Mercy Health

Legal Aid Society has scheduled a Free Legal Help Clinic on March 7 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 908 Murfreesboro Rd, Franklin 37064, in collaboration with Mercy Health Clinic. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic in Williamson County. To volunteer or for more information, contact Jorge Salles Diaz at jsallesdiaz@las.org or at 615-780-7131.
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