Tennessee Attorney Pro Bono Hours Double, Report Shows

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has released its annual report showing that attorneys in Tennessee have increased dramatically the number of hours of free and reduced-rate legal services to those in need.

The report shows that the number of hours of pro bono service volunteered by attorneys in Tennessee has more than doubled in recent years. Pro bono is a Latin term meaning “for the public good.”

“The Commission is very pleased with the results of the Pro Bono Report,” said Douglas Blaze, chair of the Commission.

“Tennessee attorneys are providing pro bono hours at an average significantly higher than the 50-hour aspirational goal set by the Supreme Court. We are proud of the leadership that Tennessee lawyers have shown and hope to build on our successes to provide even greater service to those in need.”

Reporting pro bono activity is encouraged but not required by the Supreme Court. Forty-two percent of the 21,645 attorneys licensed in Tennessee in 2013 reported participating in pro bono activity. The report relies on data collected in 2013 that shows 9,119 attorneys practicing in Tennessee provided 672,976 hours of pro bono, an average of over 73 hours per attorney. These data compare with data from 2010 when only 18% of attorneys reported pro bono work.

Attorneys serve pro bono hours in a variety of ways, including volunteering at organized legal clinics, providing legal services at a free or reduced rate, offering legal advice online at OnlineTNJustice.org, and assisting those in their local or spiritual community with legal questions.

The Tennessee Supreme Court announced its Access to Justice campaign in 2008 and subsequently created the Access to Justice Commission, which is composed of ten members from across the state. The Commission is a response to a growing legal-needs gap in Tennessee as indigent and working-poor families face more legal problems caused by unemployment, predatory loans, uninsured medical bills, domestic violence, evictions, and foreclosures.

The Commission recently adopted its 2014 Strategic Plan for improving access to justice in Tennessee, which includes educating the public on the need for legal representation to meet the promise of equal justice under the law, identifying the priorities to meet the need of improved access to justice, and making recommendations to the Supreme Court of projects and programs necessary for enhancing access to justice.

“The Tennessee Supreme Court remains committed to developing Access to Justice initiatives in the state,” said Justice Janice Holder, the Court’s liaison to the Commission. “The results of this report demonstrate that the Commission is moving in the right direction, and the Court looks forward to hearing more about the projects and initiatives in the Strategic Plan.”

See the full report here, https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2013_pro_bono_report_and_appendices.pdf.


Wacker Supports Three New Apprenticeship Programs At Chattanooga State

Wacker Polysilicon North America announced its support for three new apprenticeship programs at Chattanooga State Community College which will begin this fall. Students who qualify and are selected for the programs will participate in paid on-the-job training at the Wacker Polysilicon plant in Charleston, Tenn.   Of the almost 100 operators and laboratory technicians ... (click for more)

Baker Donelson Ranked 30th In 6th Consecutive Year On Fortune's 100 Best Companies To Work For List

The law firm of Baker Donelson has once again been named one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For. In its sixth consecutive year to be included, Baker Donelson is ranked 30th, earning its highest ranking yet and its second consecutive year as the highest ranked law firm on the prestigious list, which recognizes companies that have exceptional workplace cultures.  ... (click for more)

Joe H. Dempsey, 64, Dies On Friday In Crash Attributed To Icy Roads

A 64-year-old man died in a Hixson Pike traffic crash on Friday morning in a wreck that was attributed to icy roads. The collision involving two vehicles was reported this morning at approximately  7:22 a.m.  in the 9100 block of Hixson Pike.   Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office traffic investigator Todd Cook said a Mazda driven by Joe H. Dempsey was traveling ... (click for more)

Magistrate Says Ex-Boyfriend Threatened Her With Sexual Photos, Videos

Magistrate Sharetta Smith told police that a former boyfriend had sent her a threatening text message with a sexual picture from the time they were dating attached. She said Darian Paris told her in the text that he had more pictures and videos. Paris, 38, of Ooltewah, was arrested on a charge of harassment. Ms. Smith also filed for an order of protection against him in ... (click for more)

School Vouchers Are Unfair

A school voucher is a publicly funded credit or certificate whereby a student may be enrolled in a private school and apply the credit to tuition.   So, why should Tennessee taxpayers care? 1.      Vouchers use your money to help pay for a student to go to a private school that answers to private administrators and not you the taxpayer. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: America’s Newest Darling

Minutes after I read a letter on Rebekah Gregory’s Facebook page yesterday, I was mere seconds from summoning the marching band, our prancing elephants, and the flag-bearers so we could rightfully induct this dazzling survivor of the Boston Marathon blast into my personal Hall of Fame. I do that, you know, when I see everyday people display courage, kindness, guts, brilliance, ... (click for more)