Volunteer AT TO R N E Y
LAS/NASHVILLE PRO BONO PROGRAM UPDATE: SPRING 2005
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee
and the Cumberlands (LAS): Expanding
Volunteer Lawyer Services
awyers in the 48 counties served by the Legal including all divorces, custod y, visitation, child support
Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the defense, conservatorships, wills, estate matters, land-
Cumberlands (LAS) are volunteering as never lord tenant disputes, contract disputes, bankruptcy and
before! LAS has established formal relationships with driver’s license cases. Over 30 lawyers have signed up
local bar associations in Williamson and Montgomery to take cases through the Williamson County VLP.
counties and continues to work with individual lawyers
in other counties, making more referrals to serve more MONTGOMERY COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
clients. Exemplifying this, on the heels of the luncheon The Montgomery County Bar Association and the
with Justice Drowota in 2004, 37 lawyers in the Clarksville office of LAS sponsored a seminar on the
Tullahoma office, serving Coffee, new Child Support Guidelines conducted by Chris
Bedford, Lincoln, Moore, Warren, Church of LAS. Attorneys could choose to attend the
S U M M E R 2 0 0 5 Franklin and Grundy counties seminar for free if they agreed to take a pro bono case
volunteered to provide pro bono this year. As a result of this effort, the number of attor-
2 Letter from the Chair representation to clients, with 32 neys agreeing to take referrals of pro bono clients has
4 Predatory Lending: Challenges opened cases to date in 2005. increased from zero to 14!
(continued on page 10)
6 Predatory Lending Law Forum WILLIAMSON COUNTY
1 Legal Aid Society of Middle
Tennessee and the Cumberlands
Recognizing the legal needs of
the poor and elderly in their
9 Memphis Area Legal Services
county, the leaders of the
9 Memphis Bar Association Williamson County Bar
12 Community Legal Center Association approached LAS to
12 West Tennessee Legal Services establish the Williamson County
13 Legal Aid of East Tennessee Volunteer Lawyer Program
(VLP) to match individual
lawyers in Williamson County
with client needs. Clients who
call LAS are screened for finan-
cial eligibility and referred by
LAS and Nashville Pro Bono
Program staff to private attorneys
A publication of the for individual representation in
TE N N E SS EE B A R cases for which LAS does not
A S S O C I AT I O N
have resources to provide assis- Chief Justice Frank Drowota spoke at the Pro
tance. The Williamson County Bono Luncheon in Tullahoma, sponsored by the
Bar Association established their TBA Access to Justice Committee and the Legal
own case acceptance policy, Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the
deciding to take referrals in cases Cumberlands in November 2004.
LETTER FROM THE TBA ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMITTEE’S INCOMING CHAIR, ANDY BRANHAM
What Pro Bono Ain’t
f there were a joke about pro bono (that did not we are doing Pro Bono Service as lawyers. We can do
somehow mention Sonny Bono) it would prob- good and still not be engaging in “pro bono” work
ably go something like this: A client walks into a which, as this lawyer sees it, is the exercise of our pro-
lawyer’s office and orders a lawsuit. The lawyers fixes fessional skills and our privilege to practice law for the
him one and hands him a bill for his services. While the benefit of those who would not otherwise be able to
lawyer is regaling his partner about what a great job he obtain the same — with no expectation of a fee. It is
did on the client’s case, the client sneaks out without us doing what we are trained and licensed to do to help
paying. When the secretary asks the lawyer who that the poor and disadvantaged have the same field advan-
was, he says, “That my pro bono client for this year.” tage as the wealthy, middle class, businessmen and
And so it goes …. bankers. It is doing what we usually do for money for
Since I started sitting on this committee back in the free and hopefully for fun.
early ’90s and the days of Bruce Bailey, I have asked That being said, this is not to in any way meant to
any number of attorneys of my acquaintance what kind dishonor, take away from or diminish any type of
of pro bono work they do and have gotten all kinds of service work. These can be soul filling, society
answers, as they say, from the ridiculous to the sublime. enriching, altruistic, public service acts on our part —
Now I am not exactly sure what constitutes pro bono and some may even qualify as service under the com-
public service in every instance but, as my grandpappy munity service portion of Rule 6.1 of the Supreme
used to say, when conjecturing about the will of God, Court of Tennessee — but just remember, they ain’t
“I may not always know what it is, but I damn well necessarily pro bono.
know what it ain’t.” For those of you who want to find out more about
So in keeping with Granddaddy’s wisdom, I am what pro bono really is and how to do it — well, we are
bringing the first semi-definitive list of Top 10 blessed here in Tennessee with a wealth of opportunities
Things Pro Bono Ain’t (According to Andy). Take to serve through the Legal Service agencies and
it for what it’s worth: Community Legal Center. Please contact any of the
What the list is, of course, is an effort to better below to see how you can help AND get CLE to boot!
clarify what it is that we are talking about when we say And also please continue to do the good you do within
the community; our churches, synagogues, charities and
not for profits need us, and it is what we do well as
PRO BONO SERVICE AIN’T:
lawyers, we serve — but we could do that if we were
1. Getting your brother-in-law out of jail. accountants, construction workers or Indian Chiefs —
2. Sitting on the Symphony Board, it’s what we do with our licenses and put our BPR num-
Junior League Board or any other bers beside that makes it pro bono and gives our
board — even Legal Services Board brothers and sisters access to a courthouse whose doors
(guilty as charged). would otherwise be effectively shut and locked to them.
3. Participating in any run or walk for Here are the pro bono coordinator contacts within
any disease or cause — including Tennessee:
poverty or Access to Justice.
4. Obtaining tax exempt status for the MEMPHIS:
Legends of NASCAR Foundation. Linda Warren Seely
2 5. Appearing in traffic court for the Memphis Area Legal Services
senior partner’s duck hunting buddy. 109 North Main Street
6. Service for fees not paid by persons Second Floor
able to pay (see above). Memphis, TN 38103
7. Riding as a part-time deputy with the (901) 523-8822
Shelby County Sheriff’s Dept. email@example.com
8. PI contingency fee cases, class actions
or any alleged fee generating case that, Meg Jones, Pro Bono Director
let’s just say, does not work out for Community Legal Center
your client. 910 Vance Avenue
9. Lobbying the City Council on behalf Memphis, TN 38126
of the Humane Society. (901) 543-3395
10. Teaching Sunday morning Adult Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org
the church based on episodes
JACKSON: 9 South Jefferson Avenue, Suite 102
Kathryn Tucker Cookeville, TN 38501
Western Tennessee Legal Services (931) 528-7436
P.O. Box 2066 email@example.com
Jackson, TN 38302
(731) 426-1308 GALLATIN:
firstname.lastname@example.org Jim Hawkins
650 North Water Avenue
NASHVILLE: Gallatin, TN 37066
Lucinda Smith, Director (615) 451-1880
Nashville Pro Bono Program email@example.com
300 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37201 OAK RIDGE
(615) 780-7127 Neil McBride
firstname.lastname@example.org Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee
and the Cumberlands
CLARKSVILLE: 226 Broadway Avenue
Kevin Fowler P.O. Box 5209
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee Oak Ridge, TN 37831
and the Cumberlands (865) 483-8905
120 Franklin Street email@example.com
Clarksville, TN 37040
(931) 552-6656 CHATTANOOGA & CLEVELAND:
firstname.lastname@example.org Nancy Pagano
Pro Bono Coordinator
MURFREESBORO: Legal Aid of East Tennessee
Barbara Futter The Doctors Building
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee 744 McCallie Avenue, Suite 410
and the Cumberlands Chattanooga, TN 37403
526 North Walnut Street (423) 265-4164
Murfreesboro, TN 37130 email@example.com
COLUMBIA: Legal Aid of East Tennessee
David Kozlowski 1001 West Second North Street
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee Morristown, TN
and the Cumberlands (423) 587-4850
104 West Seventh Street firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 1256
Columbia, TN 38402 KNOXVILLE:
(931) 381-5533 Terry Woods
email@example.com Legal Aid of East Tennessee 3
502 S. Gay Street, Suite 404
TULLAHOMA: Knoxville, TN 37902
Jack Giddens (865) 637-0484
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee firstname.lastname@example.org
and the Cumberlands
123 NW Atlantic Street JOHNSON CITY:
P.O. Box 1293 Carla Forney
Tullahoma, TN 37388 Legal Aid of East Tennessee
(931) 455-7000 P.O. Box 360
email@example.com 311 W. Walnut Street
Johnson City, TN 37605
COOKEVILLE: (423) 928-8311
Marla Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee
and the Cumberlands
Predatory Lending: Challenges and
Opportunities for Tennessee Attorneys
By Tracey McCartney, Attorney at Law
Executive Director, Tennessee Fair Housing Council
rs. Jones1 is an elderly African-American the rise of “sub-prime” mortgage lending. Sub-prime
woman living in a small frame house in a pre- mortgage lending is a subset of the mortgage lending
dominantly black Nashville neighborhood. market that purports to make loans available to people
Her only income is Social Security, and she has mul- who are unable to qualify for bank financing at prime
tiple serious disabilities. Her home at one time had rates, usually because of credit.3 Subprime mortgage
been paid off, but she refinanced it to pay some debt. activity grew an average of 25 percent per year from
Enter a mortgage broker, a relative of a long-time 1994 to 2003, more than the growth rate of prime
friend. He promised her he could get her a mortgage lending. Subprime loans are generally far more expen-
loan that would pay off current loan and the credit card sive to the borrower than a prime loan would be, with
debt she’d accrued. He also promised her that her pay- higher interest rates, fees and penalties for early payoff.
ment wouldn’t go up because he could get her a lower While subprime lending provides an important
interest rate than the one she was currently paying. source of mortgage financing for people who might
He filled out all the paperwork and obtained the otherwise not be able to buy a home, most of the
loan. Mrs. Jones never received any documents abuses generally considered “predatory” take place
showing what her interest rate and payments would be. within this segment of the lending industry. While not
The closing agent hurried her through signing the all subprime lending is predatory, almost all predatory
paperwork. The broker showed up for closing to make lending is subprime.
sure Mrs. Jones had signed the papers, but he didn’t While lenders usually disagree, there are several
speak to her or otherwise acknowledge her presence. practices generally considered “predatory” by commu-
Four days after closing — and one day after her nity activists and others concerned about abusive
right to cancel the loan expired — she discovered to lending. They include:
her horror that her house payment would now be
approximately 55 percent of her monthly income, • High fees. The Center for Responsible Lending
which is a meager $650 per month. says that borrowers should not be charged more
For a while, a friend helped her pay the mortgage, than 3 percent of the total loan amount. This does
but he too fell ill and was unable to continue. Her not include legitimate third-party charges, like ter-
home faced certain foreclosure. mite inspections, attorney fees and appraisal fees,
Fortunately for Mrs. Jones, two attorneys were able required to close a loan. Inflated fees, where they
to assist her. The attorneys filed a complaint in are present, normally are charged by the lender for
Chancery Court in Nashville against the broker (who origination or by a broker for arranging the loan.
had disappeared), the owner of the lending company
who employed the broker, the lender, the servicer, and • Yield-spread premiums. Yield-spread premiums
the title company that did the closing. While some par- are a fee paid by the lender to a broker as a bounty for
ties were later voluntarily dismissed, the case eventually convincing the borrower to pay a higher interest rate
settled. The servicer accepted a short payoff, which than he or she actually qualifies for. The premium is
gave Mrs. Jones a chance to pay off her predatory loan then passed along to the borrower in the form of a fee
4 with a reverse mortgage.2 She received a small amount at closing. What a deal for the borrower — he pays
of damages. And she is still in her home. the broker for getting him into a bad loan.
Mrs. Jones’ story is not isolated or unique, although
its relatively happy ending is. Every day, unscrupulous • Prepayment penalties. Most subprime loans
lenders — motivated by fees, emboldened by the have, buried deep in the loan documents, language
naiveté of most borrowers and unencumbered by that states that the borrower will pay a penalty if he
strong state or federal laws — take advantage of people or she refinances or otherwise pays off the loan
who own homes but may be strapped for cash to pay off before a given time period, usually two or three
consumer debt or make home repairs. In fact, the eld- years into the loan. These penalties are usually large
erly are the most attractive targets for predatory enough to trap a borrower in a bad loan by making
lenders because, if they are on a fixed income such as it too expensive to refinance. For example,
Social Security but living in a house that’s paid off, depending on the value of the house, a borrower
they are house-rich but cash-poor. who might otherwise be able to pay off a subprime
Predatory lending has become more prevalent with loan’s remaining principal balance might not be
able to get a loan large enough to cover both the nancings because they are behind on their current
principal balance and the penalties. loan and a broker or originator has convinced them
Lenders engaged in subprime lending argue that that a refinance will buy them time and perhaps
these penalties are designed to protect the lender’s even lower their payments to something more man-
investment in that borrower, to recoup the expense of ageable. Predictably, those payments go up instead.
making the loan or to keep the borrower’s interest Additionally, because of the cost of the refinances,
rate down. However, only 2 percent of borrowers in the debtor loses considerable equity, which is known
the prime market are subjected to such penalties, as “equity stripping.”
while 80 percent in the subprime market are expected
to pay them. Further, subprime borrowers generally • Steering. Studies have demonstrated that
realize no benefit from a prepayment penalty.4 unscrupulous brokers and subprime lenders often
steer African-American borrowers into more expen-
• “Flipping.” Flipping is repeated refinancing of a sive loans than they qualify for. A HUD study found
high-cost loan by the same lender. A borrower typi- that a borrower in an African-American neighbor-
cally pays the same inflated fees every time the loan hood is five times more likely to get a subprime loan
is refinanced, and there is usually no net benefit to (continued on page 7)
the borrower. Borrowers often agree to these refi-
The following is a short list of websites addressing predatory lending, compiled
and annotated by Ron Haynes.
The National Association of Consumer Advocates is a national association of over 1,000 attorneys
experienced in consumer matters including predatory lending. The website lists attorneys and their
areas of practice. Of particular interest is the section containing amicus briefs for many predatory
lending problems such as RESPA violations, pay day lending schemes, and yield spread premium
issues to name a few.
The website for the National Center for Consumer Law lists resources including its Stop Predatory
Lending publication, a step-by-step guide for lawyers to combat predatory lending practices in the mort-
gage industry, a list of its own training conferences, up-to-date news about all types of consumer issues,
and an endless list of other consumer websites including government agencies.
This website established by HUD offers a lot of statistical information including income and racial
disparities in the subprime lending market. It also provides help to find a housing counselor, avoid
foreclosure, and offers a brochure on how to avoid predatory lending.
Known as the “Predatory Lending Resource Center,” this website sponsored by the Mortgage
Bankers Association is an up-to-date predatory news source regarding legislative bills, reports and 5
recent court decisions.
The AARP website offers a glossary of terms needed when confronting mortgages, instructions on
how to spot a dishonest lender and shows a borrower what terms to avoid. Must see pages are the
ones explaining the benefits of reverse mortgages for borrowers 62 and older and the comparing home
equity lenders worksheet. Designed for non-lawyers.
This ABA website, developed and maintained by the ABA Business Law Section’s Consumer
Financial Services Committee, offers general information about borrowing and consumer credit,
including links to other websites that offer similar information. This website offers a good overview
for everyone about the documents involved in a loan. It mainly addresses non-lawyers.
Predatory Lending Law Forum
This seminar will introduce participants to the basics in the area of Predatory Lending, including a
review of what a predatory loan looks like. The seminar will provide an overview of the Truth in Lending
Act, including its basic provisions as well as the remedies it provides. The seminar will also provide an
overview of the Home Ownership Equity Protection Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
The seminar also will address how and why attorneys can and should take on Predatory Lending cases
by familiarizing participants with the variety of fee shifting and fee arrangements available in Predatory
Lending cases under relevant state and federal statutes. The seminar will also include information about
the potential for class action litigation; how to deal with arbitration clauses in this context; and the rel-
evant portions of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, RICO and the Fair Debt Collection Act.
CLE Credits: 6 Hours CLE Credit
Date & Location: June 3, 2005
Nashville (Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Avenue North, 2nd Floor)
Time: Registration 8 a.m.
Program 8:30 a.m - Noon
Lunch on Your Own Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Program 1:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
TOPICS TO INCLUDE:
Basics of predatory lending; Truth in Lending Act; Home Ownership Equity Protection Act; Real
Estate Settlement Procedures Act; Fee-shifting and fee arrangements under relevant state and federal
statutes; Tennessee Consumer Protection Act; Class-Action Litigation; RICO; Dealing with arbitra-
tion clauses; Fair Debt Collection Act.
SPEAKERS TO INCLUDE:
Tracey McCartney, Executive Director, Attorney, Tennessee Fair Housing Council; Dave Tarpley,
Attorney, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands.
FREE to any attorney who agree to take 2 PRO BONO CASES
$175 for TBA Members
$200 for non-member attorneys
$25 for employees of nonprofit organizations and other non-attorneys (no CLE credit)
THIS SEMINAR IS BEING SPONSORED BY:
The Tennessee Fair Housing Council;
The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA); and
The TBA Access to Justice Committee.
6 THE MISSION OF THE TBA ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMITTEE IS TO:
A dvance the cause of equal access to justice for all Tennesseans.
Cthe justice community. access initiatives among all members of
reate a culture of equal
oordinate and encourage cooperation among providers of legal
Educate the bar on the need and obligation to provide pro bono
S Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
upport the bar in fulfilling its obligations under Rule 6.1 of the
Supply aon access to justice issues. courts, the legislature, and the
voice for attorneys to the
Predatory Lending: Challenges and Opportunities (continued from page 5)
than a borrower in a white neighborhood . sequences of which is termination of the creditor’s
security interest in the collateral.
• Single-premium credit insurance. As its name
implies, this is a form of insurance sold to the bor- • The Home Ownership Equity Protection Act
rower at closing. The premium is financed into the (HOEPA), an amendment to TILA, has enhanced
loan as a lump-sum payment. The borrower often is damages and additional protections against abuse
completely unaware that he or she is paying the where a case involves a loan that meets HOEPA’s
premium, and the coverage the insurance provides technical “high-cost loan” test.
is usually wholly inadequate, providing coverage for
a far shorter time than it would take to pay back the • The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
part of the loan represented by the premium. (RESPA) was designed to protect consumers from
unduly high settlement costs and deceptive settle-
The continuing rise of predatory lending cries out ment practices. It also requires disclosure of settle-
for stricter regulation. However, the Tennessee ment costs before the closing, and the debtor has a
General Assembly so far has declined to pass compre- right to obtain a detailed history of the account from
hensive legislation that would curb some of the worst the lender or servicer. While RESPA itself does not
abuses. The Tennessee Department of Financial have a wide range of remedies, and many of its pro-
Institutions, the state agency charged with regulating visions don’t provide a private right of action, plain-
banks, mortgage lenders and brokers and other lenders tiffs can recover damages for violation of RESPA
(such as consumer finance companies), has declined to under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act
push for comprehensive legislation, opting instead to (dealt with in more detail below).
draft a bill that would require originators to be regis-
tered — but not licensed — with the department.5 • The Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit
At the federal level, the Comptroller of the Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibit lending dis-
Currency declared in 2003 that state and local govern- crimination on several bases.10 Widespread preda-
ments have no power to prohibit predatory practices tory lending based on race is referred to as “reverse
by federally chartered banks.6 Further, a bill pending in redlining.” ECOA also contains provisions
Congress would strip states and localities of their regarding procedures for taking and evaluating loan
authority to curb predatory lending, setting one set of applications and for providing notices when a loan
rules for the entire country7 that some critics of the bill is rejected. ECOA’s remedies include actual and
believe would be too weak.8 A competing bill would punitive (up to $10,000) damages, equitable relief
likewise set a federal standard but has stronger con- and attorney fees.
sumer-protection provisions.9 That bill is modeled on
legislation in effect in North Carolina. • The Tennessee Consumer Protection Act11
With rampant abuse and weak legislation, lawyers (TCPA) prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or prac-
in Tennessee who seek to represent borrowers have an tices in the conduct of any trade or commerce in
opportunity and a challenge to serve a potentially part or wholly within this state.” As mentioned
large client base under existing state and federal law. above, violations of RESPA that may not have a
However, there simply are not enough attorneys who remedy under federal law can be brought under the
have recognized how valuable to their practices this TCPA. TCPA also specifically prohibits “bait and 7
area of the law could be. switch” tactics like those so common to predatory
While most consumer advocates agree that existing lending. Remedies include damages (treble in the
law is not strong enough, enough statutory and case case of willful or knowing violations), costs and
law exists to afford many consumers some meaningful attorney fees.
remedies, depending upon their facts:
• The Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations
• The Truth in Lending Act (TILA), which Act (RICO) provides a federal right of action for a
mostly deals with failures to make certain disclo- demonstrated pattern of engaging in one of the
sures in a loan transaction, includes as remedies enumerated prohibited activities. RICO provides
statutory damages equal to twice the finance charge for treble damages, attorney fees and costs.
(capped at $2,000), actual damages occasioned by
failure to make required disclosures, costs and • Traditional common-law claims such as fraud,
attorney fees. Perhaps the most powerful remedy misrepresentation, unconscionability and bad faith
TILA offers is rescission of the loan, one of the con- (continued on page 8)
Predatory Lending: Challenges and Opportunities (continued from page 7)
can provide remedies in a range of fact situations. Affordable Loans by Race and Age” (2003), available
Predatory lending can be a highly technical area of ters/client_alert_financial_services/pdf/ncrcdis
the law, but attorneys who have mastered it have built crimstudy.pdf
highly successful practices representing both indi- 4. Center for Responsible Lending, Prepayment
vidual plaintiffs and classes. While predatory lending Penalties in Subprime Loans, “When Qualifying for a
practice is usually associated with Legal Aid or pro Better Mortgage Doesn’t Pay Off,” (2004, updated
bono attorneys, it is fee-generating work that many March 2005).
firms would find interesting, fulfilling and lucrative. In 5. 2004 Tenn. Pub. Acts 747 (codified at Tenn.
fact, there are a handful of firms throughout the Code Ann. § 45-13-101 et seq.).
country whose sole focus is consumer protection and 6. In Tennessee, because of a “wild-card” provision
predatory lending.12 There is a dire shortage in that provides that state banks can be regulated by the
Tennessee of attorneys knowledgeable about predatory state only to the extent federal banks are regulated fed-
lending from the plaintiff’s side; a handful of Legal Aid erally, the OCC ruling meant that state-chartered
attorneys and members of the private bar handle all banks also could not be covered by predatory-lending
the clients they can, but most victims in Tennessee are legislation. That was one reason given by the
not able to find competent representation. Predatory Commissioner of the Department of Financial
lending truly represents an opportunity for attorneys to Institutions for not pursuing comprehensive consumer-
do well while doing good. protection legislation. However, the OCC’s decision
would not have affected the state’s ability to regulate
NOTES: non-bank lenders, which are the source of most abu-
1. Her name has been changed to protect her identity. sive lending practices.
2. A reverse mortgage, technically known as a 7. H.R. 1295, 109th Cong. (2005).
“Home Equity Conversion Mortgage,” is a federally 8. Center for Responsible Lending, The
insured loan that is available only to persons 62 and Ney-Kanjorski Bill Replaces Effective State
older. A reverse mortgage allows a senior to use the Protections Against Predatory Lending with a Weak
equity in her home to receive an annuity or a lump Federal Standard (March 2005).
sum of cash that can be used to pay off previous mort- 9. H.R.1182, 109th Cong. (2005).
gages or other expenses. The homeowner does not 10. The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et
make house payments, and the loan does not come due seq., prohibits discrimination in most housing-related
until the homeowner passes away or the home other- transactions based on race, color, religion, national
wise changes hands. The amount a homeowner is eli- origin, sex, disability and familial status (the presence
gible for depends on the equity in the house and the or anticipated presence of children under 18 in a
homeowner’s age. The main drawback to a reverse household). The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15
mortgage is that it prevents a home from being passed U.S.C. §§ 1691 et seq., prohibits lending discrimina-
to heirs free and clear. tion based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex
3. However, studies have shown that people of or marital status, age (provided the applicant has the
color, mostly African Americans, end up in the sub- capacity to contract) or receipt of public assistance.
prime market in disproportionate numbers even 11. Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-101.
without credit problems. See, e.g., National 12. Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin is a
8 Community Reinvestment Coalition, “The Broken Chicago firm whose main focus is predatory lending.
Credit System: Discrimination and Unequal Access to http://www.edcombs.com/
Memphis Area Legal Services Pro Bono Update
emphis Area Legal Services (MALS) is and Consumer Law Attorney Should Know.”
pleased to welcome staff paralegal Shirley R. At the request of one young lawyer, Jerrod Smith of
Blayde to the wonderful world of Pro Bono. Tate, Lazarini and Beal, MALS staff met recently with
Shirley replaces former MALS staff member John Keys who currently serves in the Bredesen
Cynthia Day. administration in the Veterans Affairs division. Keys is
The Attorney of the Day Project has received quite a formerly of Memphis and has agreed to work with
bit of publicity since it opened its doors in February. Since Smith, MALS and the Access to Justice committee to
then, volunteer attorneys have helped over 75 clients on create a pro bono project to assist veterans.
a variety of cases including landlord/tenant, consumer and MALS volunteer attorneys have been able to access
domestic cases. There was even a referral for a pro bono a variety of on-line CLE programs at no or discounted
mediation thanks to David Cook of the Hardison Law cost to them once they have completed a pro bono
Firm. MALS also offers a special thanks to the Greater case. LawyersLearn, an on-line CLE provider out of
Memphis Paralegal Association for its volunteer efforts at Knoxville, and the WestLegalEdCenter are two compa-
the Attorney of the Day Project. In particular, thanks go nies that volunteered to donate their services in the
to Brenda Huffstutler, Carol Scoggins, Shelley Stewart, cause of pro bono. LawyersLearn provides an access
Jennifer Miller and Rose Smith for their participation. c ode number as does WestLegalEdCenter enabling vol-
MALS held a CLE program for volunteer attorneys unteer lawyers to choose from a variety of programs on
on General Sessions Procedure on May 20 in Judge their web sites. The access code numbers are good for a
Phyllis Gardner’s courtroom at which University of limited amount of time through both programs and
Memphis Clinical Professor Connie Ross spoke. The WestLegalEdCenter limits the value of the coupon to
seminar was offered at no charge for volunteer attor- $150. Nonetheless, MALS wants to publicly express
neys through MALS. gratitude for these services. And in the words of volun-
As also noted in the WTLS Update, the Tennessee teer attorney Kevin Kern, “This is a great service.”
Taxpayer Project and MALS presented a CLE program
for volunteer attorneys on May 11 at the University of
Memphis School of Law. Mary Gillum of the For more information, please contact Linda Warren Seely
Tennessee Taxpayer Project presented a day-long pro- at (901) 523-8822 or email@example.com
gram called “Tax Law Issues Every Bankruptcy, Family
Memphis Bar Association Takes the Lead in
Public Service Planning
A t the request of incoming Memphis Bar
Association President Barbara Zoccola, local
incoming bar presidents in Memphis met to
nity which in turn will increase the public’s trust and
confidence in lawyers and the justice system.
Much of the discussion focused on volunteer oppor-
collaborate and plan joint public service projects. tunities and what would most appeal to attorneys. Van
Attendees included Gina Higgins of the National Bar Horn made the point that “Anyone can build a 9
Association, Bill Haltom of the Tennessee Bar Habitat for Humanity House, but we as attorneys have
Association, Danny Van Horn of the TBA Young a special license; only an attorney can provide legal
Lawyers Division, Linda Warren Seely of the counsel, advice and representation. We should, there-
Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women and Kirk fore, focus on those opportunities that allow us to use
Caraway, incoming president of the Memphis Bar this license to benefit our community.” Bill Haltom
Association’s Young Lawyers Division. followed up on Danny’s point by noting that volun-
In a far ranging discussion about public service and teering to use one’s license in the pursuit of access to
the bar, the incoming presidents agreed to work on justice is good for the justice community, good for the
increasing volunteer opportunities for attorneys in the client community and it can be fun, given the right set
Memphis area. By partnering with each other, the bar of circumstances. “After all, it’s not like eating broc-
associations hope to leverage their resources; create coli,” he quipped.
new and exciting projects for their members; increase Many thanks to Zoccola for her initiative in
pro bono participation rates; avoid duplication of proj- bringing together the new leadership of the bar and
ects and initiatives; and offer services to the commu- coordinating this effort.
LAS of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands Expanding Services (continued from page 1)
NASHVILLE PRO BONO PROGRAM individual representation.
The wonderful attorneys in Davidson County continue The Nashville Pro Bono Program continues to
to answer the calls — and the calls — from LAS and operate a weekly advice clinic staffed by volunteer
the Nashville Pro Bono Program to extend services to attorneys for self-represented individuals in divorce
low income and elderly individuals in our community. cases from 9 a.m. through 11 a.m. most Mondays.
The program has handled more than 990 requests for Clients who are eligible for LAS services can receive
assistance in 2005, and lawyers in Davidson County advice regarding appropriate forms to be filed and the
have provided assistance in more than 290 cases.
In addition to individual representation, a wide
range of advice and counsel is available on a regular
basis to clients through the following resources pro-
vided by LAS and the Nashville Pro Bono Program.
The Second Tuesday clinic is followed every
month by The Saturday Bar, an advice clinic that
meets the third Saturday of each month. Lawyers from
private practice like Larry Maxwell at Baker,
Donelson; government lawyers like Pete Halverstadt;
and corporate counsel like Richard Green of
EMI/CMG are stalwart volunteers for this clinic.
Organized by attorney Sharmila Murthy at LAS,
on the third Friday of every month, staff of LAS serve
as interpreters for volunteer attorneys who meet with
Spanish speaking clients at the Woodbine
Community Center Legal Clinic. Attorneys —
including John Griffin and Frank Wilbert of Kay, John Blankenship, then chair of the TBA Access to
Griffin, Enkema, and Brothers PLLC — review the Justice Committee, spoke to the attendees at the Pro
facts of applicants’ cases and provide advice or refer Bono Luncheon in Tullahoma in November 2004.
them to LAS and the Nashville Pro Bono Program for
Dave Yoder, director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, also addressed the crowd at the Pro Bono Luncheon in Knoxville
in February 2005. LAET held a press conference before the luncheon to announce the Fifty-Fifty Plan developed by
LAET and endorsed by the Knoxville Bar Association. For more information on the Fifty-Fifty Plan, see the pro-
gram update for LAET on page 13.
Justice Riley Anderson and John Blankenship, Andy Branham, then vice-chair and
then chair of the TBA Access to Justice now chair of the TBA Access to Justice
Committee, seen here comparing notes, each Committee, addressed the crowd at the
spoke to the group of assembled attorneys at the Pro Bono Luncheon in Tullahoma in
Pro Bono Luncheon in Knoxville sponsored by the November 2004.
TBA Access to Justice Committee and Legal Aid
of East Tennessee in February 2005.
people on fixed incomes, and others who have no where
else to turn, are treated with the same degree of fairness
process to be followed in representing themselves in as anyone else in the payment of property taxes. A
obtaining a divorce. follow-up “dial-a-lawyer” program on April 26 was ded-
LAS and the Nashville Pro Bono Program continue icated to answering questions about the process for con-
to partner with bar associations to provide opportunities testing property tax assessments.
for lawyers to serve the community. On April 25, 2005,
the Program and LAS partnered with volunteer lawyers
from the Nashville Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Please contact Lucinda Smith at the Nashville Pro Bono
Division and the Lawyers’ Association for Women to Program (615-780-7127 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with any
present information and advice regarding the tax assess- suggestions or ideas for new opportunities that allow
ment process and appeal process and to help assure that lawyers to serve our communities in Middle Tennessee.
Justice Riley Anderson spoke to the group of assembled attorneys at the Pro Bono Luncheon in Knoxville spon-
sored by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and Legal Aid of East Tennessee in February 2005.
Community Legal Center Program Update
By Meg Jones, Executive Director
ommunity Legal Center just began its second start a foundation to mentor single mothers.
decade of providing legal services to the We need pro bono attorneys to help leverage
“working poor” in Memphis and Shelby resources too. Taking pro bono cases is a wonderful way
County. In considering what direction our agency will to fulfill your ethical obligation to the profession. Pro
take in the next 10 years, we are looking at ways in bono representation can be very rewarding. Think of the
which we can leverage our time to provide the greatest feeling you get of justice being served and having done
amount of services using the least amount of our com- something to make the world a better place when you
munity’s resources. Community Legal Center is some- help people who are earning a living but then get blind-
what unique in our ability to leverage resources. sided by something totally out of their control. They
During our latest fiscal year we had an average total can’t afford to hire an attorney to get matters straight-
cost per client served of only $45.12. ened out, but without representation they may begin a
Thus, we point with pride to our newest project, downward spiral that could even end in homelessness.
the Pro Se clinic in the civil court house. This clinic Examples of two such cases that were handled by CLC
has enabled us to greatly increase the number of non- recently include a client who had a judgment against
contested divorces we can handle with the addition him for medical bills that were really incurred by some-
of the equivalent of one half-time attorney. Actually, b ody else with the same name. And, a pro bono attorney
our clinic is staffed by two attorneys working 10 represented a woman who was being sued for false arrest,
hours per week each. These attorneys provide limited mental anguish, loss of wages, etc., by her batterer. The
representation to clients with children in non- arrest for which he was suing her was the arrest that
contested divorces. Once the paperwork is prepared, resulted from him abusing her. The pro bono attorney
the client continues to file their divorce and appear got the suit dismissed with prejudice.
in court pro se, or unrepresented. Yes, “Crime is a stain on our community”
We recently had to say goodbye to Elizabeth Carroll, (Memphis Crime Commission) and so is injustice.
one of the attorneys who helped “birth” this program. CLC is working to eliminate the lack of access to jus-
She will still be around to fill in, but she did great work tice that has plagued the poor in Memphis.
and will be sorely missed. We welcome her replace-
ment, Yollanda Kight. She is very interested in helping For more information, please contact Meg Jones at (901)
low-income women. One of her personal goals is to 543-3395 or email@example.com
West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS)
est Tennessee Legal Services has sponsored so willingly given to educate the members of the West
several seminars to say thank you to all of the Tennessee bar. The five seminars had a combined atten-
attorneys that so graciously give of their time dance of 244 attorneys and their staff.
and talents. In January, Nancy Miller-Herron, claims In April, WTLS hosted a community-wide seminar
commissioner for West Tennessee, gave a seminar at titled “Protecting Tennessee Communities: A
WTLS and also at Shiloh Golf Restaurant to update Response to Methamphetamine.” WTLS marketed
12 attorneys and their staff on issues regarding the this seminar to the entire community in an effort to
Tennessee Claims Commission. In February, Kim Beals include everyone interested in this serious problem
and Nancy Broersma with the State of Tennessee gave and with the hope that it might educate the commu-
a seminar on the new child support guidelines. Nancy nity about West Tennessee Legal Services. In May,
Shor from Washington D.C. (executive director of the WTLS is joining with MALS to present a seminar on
National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ tax issues, with one seminar in Jackson and one in
Representatives) participated in another seminar titled Memphis, both hosted by Mary Gillum.
“Perfecting Your Social Security Practice.” Judge Bill Finally, the Jackson/Madison County Bar
Jenkins, an administrative law judge in Memphis, Association will host its annual Law Day on April 29
Nancy Hughes, a vocational and career consultant, and at the First Methodist Church in Jackson. WTLS will
Andrew Nelson, an automation instructor, also pre- be in attendance to give the Pro Bono Awards to the
sented at that seminar. The attendees came from across deserving attorneys.
the state to hear these tremendous speakers. Kevin
Snider conducted a seminar on “The Pros and Cons of For more information, please contact Kathryn Tucker at
the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act” in March. (731) 426-1308 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WTLS appreciates the time that these presenters have
Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET)
he 50/50 Plan: Like all non-profit law firms, • Volunteers answer questions from pro se litigants
LAET’s success in providing legal services to low- facing eviction or other housing problems at our
income persons depends on support from the Detainer Court Clinic.
entire legal community, with contributions of time in pro
bono service and with financial donations. Despite • Volunteers conduct Case Evaluations, reviewing
steady increases in financial support, we still fall short in the merit of potential claims.
our goal to meet the most serious civil legal needs of our
client community. The obvious question is, “How much • Volunteers are most receptive to accepting a
would it take, in time and money, to solve the problem?” referral when the request is made by someone he or
The 50/50 Plan answers that question: If every lawyer she knows. Volunteers who make Case Placement
donated $50 per month to Legal Aid programs and 50 calls are able to find representation for clients and
hours per year in pro bono service, we would finally have recruit new Pro Bono Project members.
the resources to give meaningful access to the justice
system to those who face crisis-level legal problems. • Experienced lawyers serve as mentors and con-
LAET extends special thanks to all of the lawyers who sultants for volunteers serving as primary counsel
have enlisted as 50/50 Partners to demonstrate an on a case and to LAET staff in evaluating the merits
extraordinary level of commitment to the justice system of a client’s claim.
and to our profession.
• The Pro Bono Project frequently recruits volun-
LAET CENTRAL REGION: KNOXVILLE OFFICE teer lawyers to conduct Community Education for
PRO BONO PROJECT UPDATE staff and clients of local social service agencies.
Pro Bono Service Options: LAET’s Pro Bono Project
has a dual mission — to supplement the legal services Individual and Law Firm Projects: The Pro Bono
our staff can offer low-income clients by tapping into Project has been able to make representation in certain
the expertise of the wider bar and to serve the bar itself types of cases so routine that volunteers have agreed to
by giving every lawyer an opportunity to experience accept all of the Project’s clients who need representa-
the satisfaction of representing someone who would tion in those cases. For example, in Chapter 7 bank-
otherwise be denied access to the justice system. To ruptcy cases, our staff obtains information the
meet those goals, we offer a wide variety of service volunteer needs to prepare the bankruptcy petition and
options for volunteers: collects the filing fee from the client before referring
the case to the volunteer. Because this saves so much
Advice and Brief Service Clinics time for the volunteer, one volunteer accepts all of our
• Bankruptcy often appears to be the only option Chapter 7 bankruptcy referrals. In a similar project, we
for someone who is overwhelmed by debt, but it worked with a volunteer lawyer to develop a protocol
sometimes causes more problems than it solves. for screening clients who seek emancipation. This
With the help of volunteer lawyers, we offer process requires the minor to create a plan for his/her
Debtor’s Survival Camp on the fourth Saturday of education, child care, housing, and employment, the
each month to teach clients how to avoid bank- criteria the court generally requires to be met before
ruptcy by using some simple tools for dealing with approving an emancipation. This process is so efficient
debt collectors and protecting their assets. that the lawyer who helped develop it agreed to accept 13
all of the Project’s emancipation referrals.
• Volunteer lawyers assist pro se litigants complete Other Forms of Assistance: The Pro Bono Project
form pleadings for agreed divorces at our Self-Help offers a variety of other types of assistance to volunteers:
Divorce Clinics. • We provide forms and instructions for routine
services, such as name changes, small estate
• At Saturday Bar, UT College of Law students administrations, uncontested relative adoptions
conduct preliminary client interviews to assist vol- and conservatorships.
unteer lawyers consulting with the clients about
matters that can be resolved with brief advice • LAET provides $1 million in primary-coverage
rather than extended representation. professional liability insurance for volunteers.
• Volunteers assist survivors of domestic violence at • Volunteers may use the LAET library, which
our Orders of Protection Clinic. includes a broad WestLaw subscription; and we
recruit law students for research assistance.
(continued on page 14)
Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) (continued from page 13)
• The Project recruits pro bono assistance from made a commitment in 2003 to promote the Pro Bono
other professionals, such as court reporters, media- Project by conducting an annual month-long effort to
tors, and guardians ad litem for Project cases. place Project cases and recruit new volunteers.
“Reverse Referrals”: We recognize that all lawyers
Continuing Legal Education: Our commitment to are performing pro bono work, even if they are not
providing continuing education to our volunteers reporting it to the Project. Reporting pro bono service
takes several forms: through an organized pro bono program is one of the few
• We offer a CLE program called Collaboration ways that lawyers can document the enormous service
between Legal Aid and the Private Bar, which is they routinely provide without compensation. This doc-
approved for 1.25 hours of dual CLE credit and is umentation strengthens the public’s confidence in the
available on request to law firms and their guests legal system, so we encourage lawyers to tell us about the
and to local bar associations. pro bono cases they handle outside of the Project.
Volunteers’ Commitment: Volunteers may enroll
• We co-sponsor CLE events with the Knoxville as a member of the volunteer panel without making a
Bar Association. The most recent session was a long-term commitment. Likewise, volunteers are not
workshop on “routine” legal services, in which we required to accept any particular file or a minimum
provided forms and step-by-step instructions for number of referrals.
completing cases commonly referred by the Project.
For more information, please contact Terry Woods at
• Like all pro bono programs statewide, we record (865) 637-0484 or email@example.com
the time volunteers spend on pro bono cases and
report it to the CLE Commission for credit under LAET EASTERN REGION: JOHNSON CITY
Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 21. OFFICE PRO BONO UPDATE
Special Event: On March 10, Tennessee Supreme
• In exchange for accepting a specified number of Court Justice William M. Barker spoke at a luncheon
referrals, LAET waives tuition fees for volunteers at for attorneys from Washington, Carter, Greene and
LAET-sponsored seminars; and the Knoxville Bar Sullivan counties, urging them to meet the Pro Bono
Association waives tuition fees for volunteers at Challenge issued by the Supreme Court and the
KBA-sponsored seminars in exchange for per- Tennessee Bar Association to adopt a formal pro bono
forming a specified amount of service. policy and urging them to support the LAET Pro Bono
Program. This luncheon was held at the Johnson City
Consumer Law Task Force: We are in the process Country Club and was sponsored by The Tennessee Bar
of creating a Consumer Law Task Force, in which Association’s Access to Justice Committee and Legal
experts in consumer law will review Pro Bono Project Aid of East Tennessee, East Region.
files and work with less experienced volunteers in liti- Special Recognition: Sullivan County (Bristol)
gating the cases. We encourage volunteers to seek Attorney Shelton Hillman has been recognized for his
attorneys’ fees from the adverse parties in these cases. contribution to the LAET 50/50 Plan through which
Our hope is that this strategy will have an impact in attorney pledge to do 50 hours of pro bono work annu-
eliminating many of the abusive practices commonly ally and to contribute $50 per month to LAET.
14 inflicted on low-income consumers. Saturday Bar: Sullivan County (Bristol) attorneys
Law Firm Pro Bono Policies: In response to the held the first Saturday Bar in February. Attorneys
Tennessee Supreme Court’s Law Firm Pro Bono present were Wes Edens, Frank Slaughter Jr., Shelton
Initiative, we are working in collaboration with the Hillman Jr., Kristen Morrell and David Tipton.
Knoxville Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee to
help Knoxville’s large firms develop pro bono policies For more information, please contact Carla Forney at
tailored to the individual firms’ goals. As part of the (423) 928-8311 or firstname.lastname@example.org
policy adopted by one local firm – Woolf, McClane,
Bright, Allen & Carpenter PLLC – lawyers from the LAET SOUTHERN REGION: CHATTANOOGA
firm come to LAET’s Knoxville office every month to & CLEVELAND OFFICE PRO BONO PROGRAM
review files, either placing the cases with volunteers UPDATE
within the firm or outside of the firm. The Pro Bono Committee and the YLD of the
The Knoxville Bar Association’s Board of Chattanooga Bar Association are busy planning Pro
Governors Initiative: The KBA Board of Governors Bono Night 2005 which will be held at Bessie Smith
Hall on May 26. Justice William M. Barker will host 6. New or established projects
the event and present the Pro Bono Firm of the Year a. Inner Cities Ministries legal clinic
Award. Judge Jacqueline Schulten will honor attorneys b. Samaritan Center legal clinic
Harry Cash, John Gerard Johnson, James Paris and Joe c. Community Kitchen legal clinic
Simpson for their pro bono contributions. d. Establish new clinics at new locations
Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) recognizes e. Create your own law firm or corporate
that it is not always possible for lawyers to provide one project, such as
on one client representation. Therefore, LAET strives • Regain voting rights project
to provide numerous other opportunities through the • In school advice clinics
Pro Bono Program for lawyers to fulfill their pro bono
service under Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1. BRADLEY COUNTY
Members of the Bradley County Bar Association are
PRO BONO OPPORTUNITIES IN HAMILTON interviewing potential pro bono clients at the Blythe
COUNTY INCLUDE Avenue Safe Haven Legal Clinic and are prepared to
1. Pro Bono Intake present informational talks on specific legal issues at
a. Interview pre-scheduled, pre-screened-legal future clinics. The clinics are held on the last Saturday
aid clients of the month.
b. Refer to other volunteer attorneys from legal Pro Bono Opportunities in Bradley County include:
aid’s volunteer list 1. Community Based Legal Clinics
a. Senior Law Clinics
2. Community Based Legal Clinics • Prepare living wills and powers of attorney
a. Senior Law Clinics b. Advice Clinics
• Prepare living wills and powers of attorney • Answer questions on various legal topics
b. Advice Clinics
• Answer questions on various legal topics 2. Community Education
3. Community Education • Speakers on predetermined legal topics
a. Presentations b. Write/edit legal brochures
• Speakers on predetermined legal topics
b. Write/edit legal brochures 3. Conduct a Pro Se Divorce Clinic
4. Mentor a Legal Aid attorney or a new 4. Default Divorce Clinic
5. Represent Children in Domestic Violence Cases
5. Conduct a Pro Se Divorce Clinic
For more information, please contact Nancy Pagano at
(423) 756-4013 or email@example.com
REEL JUSTICE Register now online at
or call (800) 899-6993. 15
Tennessee Bar Association
June 15-18 • Knoxville Marriott
Network with your peers at the Bench/Bar Luncheon. Enjoy special
entertainment at the fabulous, newly renovated Tennessee Theatre.
Learn about the law and cinema in a CLE program produced by
Don Paine, Sarah Sheppeard, Dorothy Campbell and Lucian Pera.
Permit No. 929
Tennessee Bar Association
Tennessee Bar Center
221 Fourth Ave. North, Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219