Attorneys and other legal professionals at the Tennessee Valley Authority, Office of the General Counsel, have launched TVA’s first pro bono program, Generating Justice, to provide free legal assistance in local communities. As part of the Generating Justice program, TVA’s OGC is working with several legal aid organizations and law firms to address community legal needs. TVA is one of the largest federal agencies in the Southeast whose attorneys are donating their time to help those in need, officials said.
“The number of unaddressed legal issues is increasing throughout TVA’s seven state region due to the economic impact of COVID-19,” said Kendra Mansur, attorney, TVA’s Office of the General Counsel and chair of Generating Justice. “Attorneys and other professionals in TVA’s Office of the General Counsel have the skills that can help fill the gap to help our neighbors in need of legal services.”
According to Ms. Mansur, prior to COVID 19, at least 86 percent of lower income populations were already unable to afford legal advice or representation on civil legal matters.
Many moratoriums on evictions during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic have expired -– leaving those with limited means vulnerable to evictions in many states. By working through legal aid organizations, TVA attorneys can help people facing eviction and other legal issues, such as debt relief and discrimination issues, by using virtual tele-meetings or other on-line platforms, such as ABA Free Legal Answers.
“In the legal field, we have an ethical obligation to serve those less fortunate by providing much needed legal assistance,” said Sherry Quirk, TVA executive vice president and general counsel. ”Making life better for all the people of the Valley is more than what we do; it is who we are as TVA employees.”
In February, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person events, TVA’s OGC top attorneys co-hosted a pro bono clinic in Memphis. In a first-of-its-kind partnership, working alongside attorneys from the pro bono programs of Memphis Area Legal Services and the Baker Donelson law firm, TVA’s attorneys helped lower-income Memphians prepare wills and powers of attorney so they had peace of mind in their estate planning. TVA’s OGC will be providing pro bono legal services to lower-income Memphians later this month through a virtual clinic.
Residents across TVA’s seven-state region interested in receiving legal assistance may inquire about eligibility for services through websites like ABA Free Legal Answers or their local legal aid office. Plans are already underway for future pro bono events; TVA’s OGC attorneys will continue to provide remote assistance for the near future through their collaborations with legal aid organizations and will participate in clinics in-person when safe to do so.