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.


Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways To Spot Suspicious Calls

The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.   These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They ... (click for more)

Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association Names Alex Perkerson Government Affairs Specialist

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, a trade group representing the interests of electric cooperative members across the state, announced that Alex Perkerson joins the association as government affairs specialist. In this role, Ms. Perkerson will assist with the association’s legislative and grassroots efforts. “Tennessee’s electric cooperatives work to inform ... (click for more)

16-Year-Old Shot Near Emma Wheeler Homes

A 16-year-old was shot near Emma Wheeler Homes on Sunday night. At approximately 7:40 p.m., Chattanooga Police received a call of a person shot from a local hospital. Officers spoke to the victim, a 16-year-old black male, who was transported to a local hospital in a personal vehicle. The victim’s injury is minor and non-life threatening. Investigators spoke to the victim ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)