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					                         THE TENNESSEE



                        Volunteer                                       ATTORNEY


                     It’s Hard to Find Help When You Don’t Know Where to Look
                     CREATION OF THE 2011 MEMPHIS/SHELBY COUNTY REENTRY RESOURCE GUIDE
                     By Richelle Kidder


                     S
                              ince 2004, the Memphis Bar Association has             Brown (sole practitioner), Mary Hamm (Burch
                              offered a profession- and community-changing           Porter), Richelle Kidder (Butler Snow), Andrea
                              experience through its annual Leadership Forum.        Prater (Public Defender’s Office) and Bridget Warner
                       This program, designed for attorneys who are relatively       (Butler Sevier), found the community service project
                       new to the profession, seeks to develop the leadership        to be an exciting — yet admittedly daunting — task.
                       skills of attorneys in their early years of practice,         The group reflected on whom to help in Memphis
                       empower them to make greater contributions to the             (and how, and when, and where, and why). After bat-
                       Memphis community and the legal profession, model             ting around several ideas — some too big, some too
                       and practice the highest standards of the legal profes-       small — the group landed on a need that seemed just
                       sion, and encourage diversity. From October until the         right: the creation of an easy-to-use, printed resource
                       “graduation” in May, Leadership Forum participants            guide that would assist ex-offenders who are making
                                            explore topics and expand capabil-       the transition from incarceration to the community.
                                            ities in topics including communi-          The concept for this project was inspired through
S   UMMER 2011                              cation skills, conflict resolution,      conversations with the Memphis-Shelby County Office
2   A Letter from the Chair                 life/work balance, and confidence        of Economic Development — an agency that knows,
4   5th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro        in the judicial system. In addition      only too well, the extraordinary strain that incarcera-
    Bono Initiative Gala                    to monthly sessions, a key part of       tion places not only on the individual, but on the com-
5   Three Programs Receive Corporate        the program is the development           munity at large. With a desire to assist ex-offenders and
    Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Funds       and implementation of a commu-           advance principles of positive economic development,
6   TBA and TALS Launch the Tennessee       nity service project, to be com-         the group considered and decided to prepare a resource
    Appellate Pro Bono Program              pleted by small groups of five           guide that would help ex-offenders access programs and
7   Save the Date: Equal Justice            attorneys each.                          people who want to help them succeed — under-
    University 2011                             One of the groups, consisting        standing that in many cases, ex-offenders might not
7   Celebrate Pro Bono 2011                 of Memphis attorneys Harry               know where to begin to look for help.
8 OnlineTNJustice.org: Utilizing                                                                                                    continued on page 3
  Technology to Expand Pro Bono
  Opportunities
9 Access to Justice Commission
  Update
10 Community Health Systems
   Attorneys Provide Free Legal Help to
   Williamson Countians
10 Calendar
11 Answering the Call
11 Submit a Nomination for the TBA
   Public Service Awards
12 Ready to Volunteer?




                                          From left: Memphis Bar Association Leadership Forum participants Richelle Kidder (Butler, Snow, O’Mara,
A publication of the
T ENNESSEE BAR                            Stevens & Cannada PLLC), Andrea Prater (Public Defender’s Office), Mary Hamm (Burch Porter & Johnson PLLC),
A S S O C I AT I O N                      Bridget Warner (Butler Sevier Hinsley & Reid PLLC), and Harry Brown (Harry Brown, Attorney at Law).
    A Letter From the Chair
    By David R. Esquivel



    W
                 elcome to the Summer 2011 edition of the      this service will be particularly effective in pairing the
                 Tennessee Volunteer Attorney. As always,      legal needs of rural Tennesseans with the dispropor-
                 you will find in these pages a snapshot of    tionate number of lawyers in our larger cities. So far,
    how people across our state are making access to jus-      more than 250 lawyers have registered as volunteers
    tice a reality.                                            for OnlineTNJustice.org.
       One theme of this edition is the Tennessee bar’s cre-      We also recognize the outstanding work done by
    ativity in addressing unmet legal needs. Richelle Kidder   the Access to Justice Commission, the Tennessee
    of Butler Snow brings us our lead article about the work   Justice Center, and TJC’s Pro Bono Attorney of the
    of the Memphis Bar Association’s Leadership Forum.         Year, Jeff Smith, Partner in Charge of Adams &
    Richelle was part of a group of lawyers that prepared a    Reese’s Memphis office, as well as the pro bono work of
    resource guide to help ex-offenders reenter the commu-     individuals, firms, and corporate legal departments
    nity. This work exemplifies the best of our profession —   across Tennessee.
    helping those who are marginalized in our society.            At the 5th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono
       You will also find an article by Prof. Alistair         Gala held in March, the AutoZone legal department
    Newbern of the Vanderbilt Law School about the             was recognized for their work in Memphis staffing an
    launch of a Tennessee Appellate Pro Bono Program.          advance directives clinic and developing education
    This is a joint effort of the TBA and the Tennessee        materials about purchasing and financing used cars. I
    Alliance for Legal Services (TALS). Appellate pro          am proud of my colleagues at Bass, Berry & Sims, who
    bono representation has been a missing link in our         were recognized at the same event for their work with
    access to justice bundle of services, and this program     AutoZone and in securing the commutation of the
    will fill that gap.                                        death sentence of E.J. Harbison. Finally, many kudos
       One of the most exciting new programs to come           to the legal department at Community Health Systems
    along is OnlineTNJustice.org. TBA President Danny          for staffing a monthly legal clinic for residents of
    Van Horn and TALS Executive Director Erik Cole             Williamson County.
    bring us the story. OnlineTNJustice is another TBA            I hope the snapshots in this newsletter have the
    and TALS collaboration. The concept is simple.             same effect on you as they have on me — appreciation
    Needy Tennessee residents submit legal questions in an     and awe for all the Tennessee bar does to meet the
    on-line forum, and they get answers within a few days      legal needs of all Tennesseans, regardless of their
    from knowledgeable lawyers across the state. We hope       ability to pay. I




2                                                              VOLUNTEER ATTORNEY EDITORIAL BOARD
                                                               Linda Warren Seely, Editor
                                                               David P. Cañas
                                                               Debra L. House
                                                               Alex J. Hurder
It’s Hard to Find Help When You Don’t Know Where to Look (continued from page 1)

   The “not knowing where to look” theme guided the tant lesson: if at all possible, plug into existing groups
group in choosing a magnifying glass as the symbol for that are already involved in this type of work. In this
the 2011 Memphis/Shelby County Reentry Resource regard, the group was extremely pleased to collaborate
Guide. Similarly, the introduction explains that          with the City of Memphis and Shelby County,
      The purpose of this resource guide is to serve as Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole, and the
   a magnifying glass — a tool to help you see and Tennessee Reentry Collaborative (TREC). These
   learn how to reach the people and programs who organizations provided important contributions in
   sincerely want to help you succeed. Admittedly, terms of resource listings and encouragement; and per-
   this resource guide is not a how-to-manual or a haps most importantly, TREC has offered to update
   magic ticket to success after incar-
   ceration. Instead, this guide is
   meant to assist you in making good        The Memphis/Shelby County Reentry Resource Guide
   connections with the right people,        is currently available for download at the websites listed.
   where and when you need help.
                                                Please feel free to print the guide and give copies to
   The group’s research was informed            people who can use it, share it via email distribution lists,
by the efforts of other communities,
such as Miami-Dade, Fla., and Travis
                                                and/or post on appropriate websites.
County (Austin), Tex., which have                  • Memphis Area Legal Services:
likewise prepared guides for ex-                     http://malsi.org/links.php
offenders. Those guides provided a
template to obtain information on pro-             • Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office:
grams in greater Memphis that can                    http://www.scdag.com/
help people in need, including ex-
offenders. With basic categories of pro-             (Help tab: “Resources & Help for Newly Released
grams in mind (e.g., substance abuse,                Inmates”)
housing, food, education, health care,
jobs), the group set to work in finding
programs that serve people in these areas. The cate-          the guide in subsequent years to keep it current.
gories quickly grew, however, as did the group’s under-          As the 2010-2011 Leadership Forum grew to a close
standing of the amazing types and quantities of work          in Spring 2011, final touches were put on the resource
being done “on the ground” in Memphis. Who knew,              guide. The group was given the opportunity to present
for example, that there are more than a dozen organiza-       the project at the TREC meeting in April 2011, at
tions in greater Memphis that assist people with a wide       which 200 copies of the guide (courtesy Burch Porter)
range of financial services, including applications for       were distributed. Given that the goal is to place the
government and private benefits that can help make            resource guide in the hands of as many people and
ends meet? Who knew that more than 30 organizations           organizations as possible to get the word out, the doc-
offer job training in fields ranging from cosmetology to      ument was made available in electronic (.pdf) format
computers, from health care to HVAC? With these and           and is available on the web sites listed in the box.
many more examples of organizations that help people             Finally, when the group presented its project at the
in need, including ex-offenders, the 2011 Memphis/            Leadership Forum graduation in May 2011, it shared
Shelby County Reentry Resource Guide eventually grew          the following guiding principle — if this guide helps
to a 40-page listing of resources in 12 categories:           one ex-offender make a successful transition by “mag-       3
alcohol and drug abuse services, benefits and finances,       nifying” the opportunities that are present in this great
clothing, education, employment, food, health care,           community — it was well worth the effort. I
housing, legal help, reentry and other resources, trans-
portation, and utilities, as well as a listing of emergency
phone numbers.                                                Richelle Kidder is Counsel at Butler, Snow, O’Mara,
   Along the way, the group learned another impor-            Stevens & Cannada PLLC in Memphis.
    5th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala

    B
           ass, Berry & Sims PLC and AutoZone were rec-                    to plan and host a legal clinic last summer for residents
           ognized for their commitment to providing free                  of low-income and blighted neighborhoods in
           legal services to the poor at the 5th Annual                    Memphis. The clinic provided advance directives free
    Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala on March 26 in                         of charge to many who would not have been able to
    Nashville. The event featured remarks by Tennessee                     afford such a service. Advance care directives are spe-
    Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark and                           cific instructions, prepared in advance, that govern
    Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.                                             medical care should a person become unable to articu-
       Tennessee Bar Association President Sam Elliott                     late their desires in the future.
    was on hand to present the 2011 Corporate Counsel                          In addition, the firm was recognized for its work on
    Pro Bono Awards. Award recipients are selected each                    behalf of former death row inmate Edward Jerome
    year from nominations submitted by attorneys across                    Harbison. For three years, members of the firm invested
    the state. One award is given to the law firm that best                more than 2,500 hours and traveled hundreds of miles
    exemplifies extraordinary commitment to access to                      across the state interviewing witnesses and reviewing
    justice ideals, pro bono service and the Corporate                     long-forgotten court records. Through its efforts, the
    Counsel Covenant of Service, while the other award is                  firm was able to demonstrate that Harbison’s death sen-
    given to the corporate legal department that best                      tence was the result of ineffective counsel and was
    exemplifies these qualities. The Corporate Counsel                     highly disproportionate to the punishment received by
    Covenant of Service states that corporate attorneys                    others for similar crimes in the state. In January, then
    have an ethical obligation to provide pro bono legal                   Gov. Phil Bredesen agreed with the firm’s findings and
    services to the poor and underserved.                                  commuted Harbison’s death sentence to life in prison
       The gala, which included a dinner and ceremony, is                  without parole. The commutation came just one
    part of the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative —                    month prior to Harbison’s scheduled execution and
    a partnership between the Tennessee Bar Association                    after he had served 27 years on death row.
    (TBA) and the Association of Corporate Counsel that                        In nominating the firm, Nashville lawyer David
    encourages and supports pro bono activities by lawyers                 Garrison with the law firm of Barrett Johnston wrote,
    serving as in-house and corporate counsel in the state.                “Few firms in Tennessee could have (or would have)
    Since its beginning, the initiative has raised more than               brought to bear the resources that were necessary to
    $200,000 to help bring legal services to the poor.                     make this outcome for Mr. Harbison possible. Bass
                                                                           Berry’s willingness to do so sets an example for other
    LAW FIRM AWARD                                                         large law firms in our state and shows an ongoing com-
    This year’s law firm award was presented to Bass, Berry                mitment to justice for the indigent and underserved
    & Sims for jointly producing an advanced directives                    that deserves to be recognized.”
    clinic in Memphis, and for its advocacy on behalf of
    former death row inmate Edward Jerome Harbison.                        LEGAL DEPARTMENT AWARD
       First, the firm was recognized for working with                     This year’s corporate legal department award was pre-
    AutoZone and Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS)                        sented to Memphis-based AutoZone for organizing an




4




    Bass Berry & Sims received the law firm award. From left: Sam Elliott, Keith Simmons, Allyn Gibson, Wendee Hilderbrand and Rev. Joe Ingle.
                                                                                                     From top left: This
                                                                                                     year’s gala featured a
                                                                                                     variety of speakers: TBA
                                                                                                     President Sam Elliott,
                                                                                                     Access to Justice
                                                                                                     Committee Chair David
                                                                                                     Esquivel, Tennessee
                                                                                                     Justice Center Executive
                                                                                                     Director Gordon
                                                                                                     Bonnyman, Chief Justice
                                                                                                     Connie Clark, Nashville
                                                                                                     Mayor Karl Dean and
                                                                                                     TBA Vice President
                                                                                                     Jackie Dixon

                                                                                                     Jim Barry and Andy
                                                                                                     Branham received
                                                                                                     special recognition for
                                                                                                     their leadership




advance directives clinic last summer, and for pro-
ducing an educational video to help low-income indi-
viduals make wise decisions about purchasing used cars.
   The company worked with the Memphis office of
Bass, Berry & Sims and MALS to plan and host an
advance directives clinic for residents of low income
neighborhoods in the city. AutoZone partnered with
lawyers and summer associates from the firm, as well as
with specially trained law students from MALS’ Peace
of Mind for Seniors Project, to make this important
service available to needy Memphians.                        AutoZone attorney Christopher Jones accepted the corporate legal
   In addition, the company was recognized for devel-        department award.
oping and distributing education materials about pur-
chasing and financing used cars. “The A-Z of Used Car
Buying” campaign involved production of a video in              Three Programs Receive
which an auto mechanic demonstrates what to look for
in a used car, an attorney discusses what clients should
                                                                Corporate Counsel Pro
know about the legal aspects of buying a used car and
an AutoZone employee describes how to maintain a
                                                                Bono Initiative Funds
used car. In nominating the company for this award,             Funds raised from the annual gala are given back
Linda Warren Seely, director of private attorney                to the legal services community in the form of
involvement at Memphis Area Legal Services, said                grants to fund pro bono programs. This year the
that transportation is a serious problem for legal aid          initiative funded three grant requests. The                     5
clients and that MALS frequently receives inquiries             Tennessee Justice Center received $10,000 to
about the purchase, financing and repossession of used          expand an existing program to train and enlist
cars. She anticipates this new resource will be of signif-      pro bono counsel to handle individual adminis-
icant value to the agency.                                      trative TennCare appeals. The Tennessee
                                                                Alliance for Legal Services received $15,000 to
SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS                                            support the administration of OnlineTNJustice
For the last five years, Memphis lawyers Jim Barry with         during its first year. The Community Legal
International Paper and Andy Branham with Counsel               Center received $10,000 to train additional pro
on Call have coordinated the initiative and helped              bono lawyers to handle cases before the Memphis
raise more than $200,000 for pro bono activities. TBA           Immigration Courts. The Immigrant Justice
Access to Justice Committee Chair David Esquivel                Program provides representation to low-income
presented them both with an award to thank them for             immigrants, many who are children or victims of
their leadership and service. I                                 domestic violence. I
    THE POWER OF PRO BONO

    TBA and TALS Launch the Tennessee Appellate Pro
    Bono Program
    By Alistair Newbern



    A
              s every lawyer knows, there is no guarantee              bond potentially affects thousands of cases every
              that a case comes to an end when the trial               year … Legal Aid wanted to be in on the appeal
              court enters its judgment. The prospect of               because the issue is so critical. However, once we
    another round in a higher court is common, whether as              realized that the appeal involved several intricate
    the appellant seeking to correct a trial court error or as         constitutional issues, we had concerns that we
    the appellee defending a successful result. But what if a          would not have the resources to handle it as well as
    client can no longer afford to pay for representation              we wanted. The Appellate Pro Bono Project was just
    after the initial round of litigation? Or what if a pro            what we needed. We are so appreciative of the
    bono attorney cannot continue to represent the client              excellent work that Lewis has done.
    through an appeal? And what if an attorney wants to
    take pro bono cases but does not specialize in trial prac-          Cases referred to the Appellate Pro Bono Program
    tice? What if her talents are in appellate litigation?          go through an initial screening by TALS and are then
       In the spring of 2011, the Tennessee Bar Association         referred to a panel of volunteer attorneys from across
    (TBA) and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services             Tennessee. These attorneys have identified themselves
    (TALS) came together to launch a new initiative                 as having particular experience or interest in appellate
    directed at addressing precisely these questions. The           litigation and a desire to contribute their talents to pro
    Tennessee Appellate Pro Bono Program is a joint                 bono work. Twenty attorneys have already volunteered
    project of the TBA Access to Justice Committee, the             their talents, and we look forward to recruiting more
    TBA Appellate Practice Section, and TALS. Its                   volunteers as the program develops. All volunteer
    straightforward mission is to connect lawyers with              attorneys receive one hour of free appellate-practice
    appellate practice experience with clients who need             CLE from the TBA and are covered by professional lia-
    pro bono representation on appeal.                              bility insurance maintained by TALS for their pro bono
       The Appellate Pro Bono Program has three primary             work. A small litigation fund is also available to help
    goals:                                                          defray some costs of appeal.
       • To enhance access to justice for low-income liti-              In its initial phase, the Appellate Pro Bono Program
           gants in Tennessee’s appellate courts by establishing    is accepting cases referred by legal services and public
           a panel of qualified appellate attorneys to accept pro   interest lawyers and by pro bono lawyers who handle a
           bono representation of clients on appeal;                case at the trial court but cannot continue representa-
       • To provide increased opportunities for attorneys           tion on appeal. Cases are screened by TALS staff and a
           with appellate practice expertise to use their           coordinating committee of attorneys before they are
           skills to serve clients who could not otherwise          referred to the volunteers. Criteria for case selection
           afford representation; and                               include a significant novel or unsettled question of law,
       • To provide an opportunity for senior appellate             error in the trial court that may have impact outside of
           attorneys to mentor and supervise young lawyers          the individual case, a split of authority, or a possible
           seeking appellate practice experience through            precedent-setting decision. All clients referred to
           pro bono representation.                                 counsel through the program must not otherwise be
                                                                    able to afford appellate representation.
6      The Program has already placed two cases with vol-               The Appellate Pro Bono Project continues to recruit
    unteer attorneys. Bass, Berry & Sims associate Cecil            volunteers and cases for referral. If you would like to
    VanDevender is partnering with Legal Aid of East                refer a case for representation, contact TALS Policy
    Tennessee staff attorney Emily O’Donnell in an appeal           and Training Director Lisa Primm at lprimm@tals.org.
    challenging a Chattanooga public housing complex’s              To volunteer for the project, contact Sarah Hayman at
    eviction procedures. Dyersburg attorney Lewis Jenkins,          shayman@tnbar.org. I
    a partner at Wilkerson, Gauldin, Hayes & Jenkins,
    accepted a case from Legal Aid of East Tennessee
    addressing the impact of new domestic violence legisla-         Professor Alistair Newbern runs the Vanderbilt Law School
    tion. LAET attorney Jane Morris reports:                        Appellate Litigation Clinic, in which third-year law stu-
          The appeal that Lewis [volunteered for] concerns          dents practice before appellate courts on behalf of clients
       a $2,500 bond that the legislature decided last year         who could not otherwise afford representation. Newbern is
       to impose in every domestic violence case where              chair of the Appellate Pro Bono Program and also serves on
       there is a violation of the Order of Protection. This        the TBA’s Access to Justice Committee.
SAVE THE DATE

Equal Justice University 2011

T
       he Tennessee Alliance for Legal services and         working. The EJU experience not only renews the
       the Tennessee Bar Association invite you to          civil legal service community’s commitment to equal
       SAVE THE DATE for this year’s Equal Justice          access to justice in Tennessee, it also introduces new
University (EJU) — Class of 2011, Oct. 12-14, at Paris      pro bono lawyers and community advocates to this
Landing State Park.                                         important mission.
   Equal Justice University is the annual gathering of         Legal Services Corporation President James J.
approximately 200 lawyers, advocates, professionals,        Sandman will address attendees on Wednesday,
and pro bono attorneys involved in providing civil          October 12. I
legal assistance across Tennessee. EJU provides a
unique opportunity for this community to gain up to
15 hours of Continuing Legal Education credits              Learn more about EJU and sponsorship opportunities by
through workshops, task force meetings, and net-            visiting the TALS website or email Linnet Overton.




  THE POWER OF PRO BONO

  Celebrate Pro Bono 2011

  B
          uilding on the extraordinary success of the         needs of 1159 Tennesseans.
          second annual National Pro Bono Celebration            In addition, three free CLE programs provided
          in 2010, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro          training to 115 lawyers who have agreed to provide
   Bono and Public Service is sponsoring the Celebration      pro bono either through a clinic or by taking on pro
   again this year. The Tennessee Bar Association                     bono cases!
   will use the entire month of October to                                   Are you planning a Celebration event
   bring attention to the need for pro bono                                 in your community this October? Let us
   work and celebrate the thousands of                                        know about it! The TBA will promote
   hours that Tennessee lawyers already                                        and publicize local Celebration
   contribute to bringing access to jus-                                        events via TBA Today throughout       7
   tice to all Tennesseans.                                                     the entire month of October. Please
       During last year’s celebration,                                          contact Sarah Hayman at (615) 383-
   volunteers from the TBA and its                                              7421 or shayman@tnbar.org to share
   Young Lawyers Division, local bar                                           details about your Celebration. I
   groups, law schools and legal aid organ-
   izations hosted 39 events where 452 vol-
   unteers, including 291 lawyers and 161                                   For more information visit the national
   non-lawyers (such as paralegals, law students,                    Celebration website http://www.probono.net/
   social workers and interpreters) helped meet the legal     celebrateprobono/
    OnlineTNJustice.org: Utilizing Technology to Expand Pro
    Bono Opportunities
    By Erik Cole & Danny Van Horn



    T
            he plight of low-income Tennesseans with
            unmet legal needs is well-documented. Any
            lawyer who has worked with vulnerable com-
    munities knows that minor legal issues can turn major
    without legal advice or information. The statistics
    show that nearly 70 percent of Tennesseans living in
    poverty had a civil legal need in the past year. Legal
    Aid and pro bono attorneys can help, but they are not
    able to reach everyone in need, particularly those
    living in rural areas. The economic crisis makes mat-            Currently there are more than 250 attorneys regis-
    ters worse as the number of people who need legal            tered as volunteers and more than 100 registered
    services continues to grow. Tennessee lawyers and legal      client/users. Most posted questions pertain to family
    aid programs are turning to technological innovation         law issues, but volunteer attorneys are available to
    to help meet this need.                                      answer questions related to all civil legal problems
        This spring the Tennessee Bar Association and the        including disaster-related, fraud, and health care issues.
    Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services launched               Over the past two months, more than 150 questions
    OnlineTNJustice.org to help meet low-income                  have been posted and answered. Most questions are
    Tennesseans’ civil legal needs. Former TBA President         answered within a day or just a couple hours.
    Buck Lewis is credited with the vision for the project           Volunteer attorneys are integral to the success of
    as he was very involved in his local pro bono clinic,        the project. They have shown enthusiastic support for
    but realized the limitations of this traditional model.      the website as an additional pro bono tool. They
    Lewis convinced the IT department at his firm Baker,         appreciate that the program is flexible with their work
    Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz to develop           schedules and meets their practice interests. More
    the website in consultation with leaders from the legal      than 90 percent of participating attorneys report that
    community. The firm worked with its Microsoft repre-         they will use OnlineTNJustice.org to provide pro bono
    sentative to secure a grant to cover the cost of software    services in the future and will recommend this program
    and licensing for the website; in May 2010, the firm         to colleagues. One volunteer attorney praised the web-
    received a perpetual annual grant from Microsoft             site’s special features, such as the ability to subscribe to
    (valued at $67,299). Also, thanks to Lewis’ leadership,      substantive law areas, but emphasized, “I like knowing
    the state Supreme Court and its Access to Justice            that there is a place folks can ask a legal question.”
    Commission lent their support to the program by                  Though it is still in its infancy, OnlineTNJustice.org
    including it in the commission’s first strategic plan        is already making an impact on peoples’ lives. The satis-
    released in July 2010.                                       faction surveys show that more than 87 percent of
        The concept of OnlineTNJustice.org is a web-based        client/users found the website easy to understand and
    pro bono clinic for low-income Tennesseans who               will share this resources with others. “God bless you!”
    might otherwise fall through the cracks of receiving         one website user raved, “Thank you so much for the
    legal assistance. Using a web-based email platform,          advice! This service is a vital asset to our community!” I
    qualifying users can post questions about their civil
    legal needs and receive basic legal information and
8   advice from attorneys. The website is easy-to-use,           Erik Cole is the executive director of the Tennessee
    requires minimal commitment, and is convenient for           Alliance for Legal Services as well a member of the
    both volunteer attorneys and low-income client/users.        Nashville Metro Council representing District 7. Danny
    The goal of this project is twofold: to increase access to   Van Horn is president of the Tennessee Bar Association
    justice for low-income Tennesseans, particularly in          and serves as the commercial litigation practice group
    rural areas and to remove barriers to attorneys pro-         leader for Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada
    viding pro bono services.                                    in Memphis.
Access to Justice Commission Update
By Anne-Louise Wirthlin


T
        he Access to Justice Commission and its advi-        31 mediators on the pro bono requirement and make it
        sory committees have had a very productive six       easier for Rule 31 mediators to conduct pro bono medi-
        months. The year began with the Pro Bono             ations. The recommendations were forwarded to the
Summit sponsored by the Supreme Court and the                Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission for its
Commission. Despite the snow and ice brought on by a         review at its July meeting.
winter storm, more than 150 lawyers, librarians, com-            Spurred on by the momentum of a break out session
munity leaders, and social service providers participated    on pro bono in rural areas at the Pro Bono Summit, the
in the Summit. The event was a tremendous success            Technology Committee is reviewing proposals for pilot
and energized the legal community to strive to increase      projects designed to connect attorneys with those in
pro bono legal services in 2011.                             need of pro bono legal services in rural areas. The AOC
    As a result of the Summit, the Commission received       has formed an Interpreter Work Group as a result of the
numerous requests from participants to be added to           work of the Technology Committee and the Disability
advisory committees. All of these volunteers were            and Language Barriers Committee. This group is com-
included in committee meetings and have greatly              prised of court clerks, court interpreters, judges, and
helped the Commission strive to complete its goals.          attorneys and will examine ways to use remote inter-
Since the Summit, the advisory committees and sub-           preting to meet the need of limited English proficiency
committees have accomplished a great deal.                   litigants and ensure the quality of interpreters.
    The Pro Bono Committee, in conjunction with the              The AOC coordinated a presentation at the June
TBA Access to Justice Committee, finalized and sub-          Tennessee Judicial Conference on how judges can assist
mitted proposed changes to the Rules of Civil                pro se litigants. The panel discussion featured Chief
Procedure to permit limited scope representation and         Justice Cornelia Clark, Judge Don Ash, Chancellor
provide attorneys with guidance on how to offer unbun-       James Butler and Margaret Behm, chair of the ATJ
dled legal services. The proposed rules will be presented    Commission. The AOC also sponsored presentations at
to the Rules Commission in Aug. 2011. The Pro Bono           the May and June State Court Clerks Association
Committee will submit proposed revisions of the pro          Conferences on access to justice issues, specifically the
bono reporting form contained in the annual attorney         Guidelines for Tennessee Court Clerks Who Assist Self-
renewal statement to the Commission at its next              Represented Persons. The chair of the Commission
meeting with the goal of streamlining the reporting          opened the May presentation while I participated in the
process and encouraging more attorneys to report their       June presentation. The Commission continues to reach
pro bono work. This Committee will also submit reports       out to and support the judiciary and the court clerks as
on modest means initiatives around the country and a         these groups are on the “front line” and have a wealth of
pro bono mediation proposal.                                 experience and knowledge in working with individuals
    The Pro Se/Forms Committee is working on three           who cannot afford legal assistance.
on-going projects, all designed to make the court system         The Commission continues to encourage and sup-
more user friendly. The first project, which will wrap up    port OnlineTNJustice, the joint project between TALS
this summer, is the plain language divorce forms when        and the TBA. The Commission is excited that the
there are no minor children involved. A subcommittee         launch of the website designed to permit attorneys to
is reviewing the public comments to these forms and          provided limited legal advice via email was successful
will make a formal recommendation to the Court as to         and the website has been positively received by mem-
whether to incorporate the comments. The second              bers of the bar.
project this group is working on is the review of the            While a great amount of work has been accom-
plain language version of the Parenting Plan for legal       plished in 2011, there is still much more to be done.           9
sufficiency and readability. The third project is a Pro Se   The Commission will begin to wind down its 2010
Benchbook for general sessions judges. The subcom-           Strategic Plan and begin working on a new Strategic
mittee leading this project will have a working draft        Plan to present to the Court in 2012. As always, the
available for the Committee to review in the upcoming        Commission welcomes your participation and any
months. Future projects that this Committee will tackle      thoughts or suggestions members of the bar have on
are plain language civil forms and a review of plain lan-    access to justice issues. I
guage instructions to the Child Support Worksheet.
    At its April meeting, the Commission approved rec-
ommendations from the Education/Public Awareness             Anne-Louise Wirthlin is access to justice coordinator for the
Committee designed to educate Supreme Court Rule             Administrative Office of the Courts.
     Community Health Systems Attorneys Provide Free Legal
     Help to Williamson Countians
     By Erin Gagnon




     B
            y day they deal with                                                             tive vice president and general
            multi-million dollar deals.                                                      counsel — and one of the six
            By night they help low-                                                          CHS attorneys who staff the
     income people deal with their                                                           free clinics.
     legal problems. They are the                                                               Since the program began,
     superhero lawyers of Franklin-                                                          163 Williamson Countians have
     based Community Health                                                                  received free legal advice and
     Systems Professional Services                                                           counsel, according to Lucinda
     Corporation — helping low-                                                              Smith, director of the Nashville
     income Williamson Countians                                                             Pro Bono Program. Typical legal
     leap over tall legal problems at                                                        problems include employment
     no charge.                                                                              disputes, housing issues and
        And you can catch a glimpse                                                          broken contracts, she added.
     of their superpowers in action                                                             Seifert said the program grew
     the first Tuesday of the month                                                          out of attorney Justin Pitt’s need
     at the Williamson County                                                                to leave a meeting promptly at
     Public Library, 1314 Columbia                                                           the scheduled end time.
     Avenue, when they hold a free                                                              “I asked Justin where he was
     legal clinic from 6 to 8 p.m.                                                           going and he said to work on a
        The monthly clinics, which                                                           pro bono project he had begun
     began in January, offer free legal Rachel Seifert, executive vice president and general while working at Bass, Berry &
     advice to any resident of counsel of Community Health Systems.                          Sims, his former law firm, which
     Williamson County. They are                                                             has a very active pro bono pro-
     staffed by CHS attorneys in partnership with the gram. I was impressed by his dedication and it brought
     Williamson County Bar Association and Nashville Pro back memories of the pro bono work I undertook while
     Bono Program. Four attorneys, at least one of whom working at a law firm earlier in my career,” she said. “It
     has litigation experience, staff the clinic each month.          also made me realize that lawyers don’t need to work at
        “This program gives our attorneys a chance to give a law firm to do pro bono work, and that it would be a
     back to the community in a way that directly helps unique way to give back to the community by actually
     people, which is wonderful. We’re grateful to the providing the services needed. So we contacted the
     Nashville Pro Bono Program for this opportunity to Nashville Pro Bono program and asked them to put us
     help assure that access to justice is available to to work. This monthly free clinic was their suggestion.
     everyone, not just those who can afford it. I believe it’s It’s been a great experience for everyone.” I
     been as rewarding for us as it has for the people who
     have come to the clinics,” said Rachel Seifert, execu-



10
                                               Calendar
                                               AUGUST 15
                                               Nominations due for TBA Public Service Awards
                                               OCTOBER 12-14
                                               TALS Equal Justice University, Paris Landing State Park
                                               JANUARY 14
                                               Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Service Luncheon, Nashville
                                               MARCH 24
                                               Sixth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala,
                                               The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville

                                               To have your event listed in an upcoming newsletter, contact Sarah
                                               Hayman at (615) 383-7421 or shayman@tnbar.org
Answering the Call
By Jeffrey C. Smith



H
          ealth insurance policies                                                   after page upon page of
          can sometimes be the bane                                                  TennCare regulations — the
          of plainly written English.                                                antithesis of straightforward
Couple that with the bureaucracy                                                     writing. And of course, there
of insurance adjusters and ordinary                                                  is the fact that emotions are
people may find it quite challenging                                                 at play when a mother
to decipher the reason behind a                                                      receives written notice her
benefits determination or to wend                                                    son or daughter will no
their way through the administra-                                                    longer be receiving care that
tive appeals process. How many of                                                    had previously been approved
us have been called by family mem-                                                   by TennCare.
bers to help them understand “what                                                       When TennCare benefits
is going on here?”                                                                   get cut, who answers the call of
    If you have, then you know how                                                   needy families in Tennessee
complex it can be to answer the                                                      who want to know “what is
question of what services are cov-                                                   going on here?” The Tennessee
ered with any degree of certainty.                                                   Justice Center and a host of
One provision says a service is cov-                                                 volunteer pro bono attorneys
ered, but an exclusion later in the                                                  do. But with the state’s
policy says it is not covered under                                                  mounting budget pressures, the
certain circumstances.                                                               need for help will continue to
    For those receiving health care benefits through       grow. The work is richly rewarding; the families univer-
TennCare, that complexity is magnified by layers of        sally appreciative. You don’t have to be a TennCare
byzantine statutes, rules, regulations and case law. Not   expert to help these families in need. They are just
only will an enrollee be confronted by assorted            happy to have someone answer the call who is willing to
TennCare specific regulations, an administrative           work on their behalf to find out “what is going on here.”
appeal of a TennCare benefits decision is governed by          For more information about the Tennessee Justice
the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act and a            Center, its client services, and free pro bono CLE train-
number of consent decrees.                                 ings, the center’s website, http://www.tnjustice.org or
    It is not difficult to see how families on TennCare    call 615-255-0331 to speak with Chris Coleman. I
can be overwhelmed by the administrative appeals
process. The notices of benefits denial are filled by
block quote after block quote of TennCare regula-          Jeff Smith is a lawyer with Adams & Reese in Memphis and
tions upon which the denial of benefits is based.          serves as partner in charge. Smith was recently selected as
Though the letter seems intended to communicate            TJC’s Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.
to enrollees in simple language, eyes often glaze over


Submit a Nomination for the TBA Public Service Awards
                                                                                                                         11
E
      ach year the Tennessee Bar Association recog-        demonstrated dedication to the development and
      nizes outstanding service by attorneys who have      delivery of legal services to the poor. The Law Student
      donated their time to help others. The three         Volunteer Award recognizes a Tennessee law school
awards given are the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public            student who provides outstanding volunteer services
Service Attorney of the Year, the Harris Gilbert Pro       while working with an organization that provides legal
Bono Volunteer of the Year Award and the Law               representation to the indigent.
Student Volunteer Award.                                      Award nominations are due by Monday, August
   The Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of      15. For more information and to submit a nomination,
the Year Award is given to an attorney for representa-     visit http://www.tba.org/committees/AccesstoJustice/
tion above and beyond the call of duty of an indigent      atjawards.html.
client in either criminal or civil defense. The Harris        Award winners will be honored at the Tennessee
Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award recog-        Bar Association’s Public Service Luncheon on
nizes private attorneys who have contributed signifi-      Saturday, January 14, in Nashville. I
cant amounts of pro bono work and have
     Ready to Volunteer?
     WEST TENNESSEE                             Southeast Tennessee Legal Services
     Community Legal Center                     29 Patten Parkway
     910 Vance Avenue                           Chattanooga, TN 37402
     Memphis, TN 38126                          (423) 756-0128
     (901) 543-3395                             www.selegal.org
     www.clcmemphis.com/volunteerapp.html
                                                STATEWIDE
     Memphis Area Legal Services                Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts
     109 North Main Street, Suite 200           211 Commerce Street, Suite 100
     Memphis, TN 38103                          Nashville, TN 37201
     (901) 523-8822                             (615) 743-3055
     www.malsi.org/volunteer.php                vlpa@ABCNashville.org
     West Tennessee Legal Services              Tennessee Justice Center
     P.O. Box 2066                              Chris Coleman, Staff Attorney
     Jackson, TN 38302                          301 Charlotte Avenue
     (731) 423-0616                             Nashville, TN 37201
     www.wtls.org                               (615) 255-0331
                                                ccoleman@tnjustice.org
     MIDDLE TENNESSEE
     Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee      ACLU of Tennessee
     & the Cumberlands                          P.O. Box 120160
     300 Deadrick Street                        Nashville, TN 37212
     Nashville, TN 37201                        (615) 320-7142
     (800) 238-1443                             www.aclu-tn.org/cooperatingattorney.htm
     www.las.org/about/get_involved/volunteer
                                                Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee
     EAST TENNESSEE                             Martha M. Lafferty, Managing Attorney
     Legal Aid Society of East Tennessee        2416 21st Avenue South, Suite 100
     Charlie McDaniel, pro bono director        Nashville, TN 37212
     744 McCallie Avenue, Suite 410             (615) 298-1080 ext. 128
     Chattanooga, TN 37403                      marthaL@dlactn.org
     (423) 756-4013
                                                Southern Migrant Legal Services
     cmcdaniel@laet.org
                                                A Project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc.
     Legal Aid Society of East Tennessee        Melody Fowler-Green, Branch Manager
     Terry Woods, pro bono director             311 Plus Park Blvd., Ste. 135
     502 South Gay Street, Suite 404            Nashville, TN 37217
     Knoxville TN 37902                         (615) 750-1200
     (865) 637-0484                             mfgreen@trla.org
     twoods@laet.org
                                                Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors
     Legal Aid Society of East Tennessee        Katherine D. Esquivel, Director
     P.O. Box 360                               2007 Acklen Ave.
     311 W. Walnut Street, Suite 100            Nashville, TN 37212
     Johnson City TN 37604                      (615) 823-1945
12   (423) 928-8311                             katherine-tnjfon@comcast.net

				
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