Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Administrative Assistants’ Day! Blog by Jennifer Bicknell

            It is that time of year again.  It is time to celebrate those people at your office who make everything run smoothly.  Those who keep everything in the right place because that is where they decided the right place should be.  Without these wonderful people, chaos would reign supreme.
            So it is time to give some well deserved kudos to the lovely women who keep Rice, Amundsen & Caperton humming along.  A major thank you goes to Teresa Brents, Carla Baker, Andrea Schultz, Stacey Pipkin, Cyndy McCrory and Susan New.  You all are so good at what you do it makes it look easy, even though we all know it isn’t.  Finally, a humongous thank you goes to our receptionist Sharon Beard.  We are so thankful you are part of the team.  You do so much for every person in this office and you do it with such a great attitude and an incredible sense of humor. 
            So today (or any day you think about it), be sure to thank the people at your office without whom you would never be as efficient, organized or successful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

American Bar Association President Comes to Law School by Justin Steele

Mr. James R. Silkenat visited the law school yesterday on request from the Student Bar Association, Law Review, Mental Health Law and Policy Journal and the Public Action Law Society.  Mr. Silkenat is the current president of the American Bar Association.  Despite being the president of the ABA Mr. Silkenat is also a partner at the New York based law firm Sullivan and Worcester and a part of their corporate division.  Mr. Silkenat has had a long and distinguished record of service at the ABA. Before his election by the ABA House of Delegates last year as the Association’s President-Elect, he was a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He also served as Co-Chair of the ABA Solo and Small Firm Leadership Coalition.
               Yesterday, in the historic courtroom, Mr. Silkenat addressed the students, faculty, and some of the Memphis legal community on the progress and initiatives that the ABA is pursuing.  Currently, the ABA is initiating the theme of the right to vote for this years Law day on May first.  Mr. Silkenat believes that it is every American’s right to vote and current legislation being passed which requires more identification and more stringent rules at the polls to vote, is merely a political move to limit votes and voters.  Most importantly, the president spoke and was asked about his views on different educational problems that have arisen in the last several years.  To be more specific, Mr. Silkenat spoke on: concerns on the cost of legal education, the practice readiness of graduating law students, the length and breadth of study in law schools, the ranking of law schools, and whether the ABA has done the right thing for the legal industry by accrediting more law schools in the current job market. 
               One student asked Mr. Silkenat if he thought the ABA was being responsible by allowing more schools to reach accreditation while the legal industry was already so saturated with lawyers.  To which Mr. Silkenat responded that he does not want ABA to pull up the rope on institutions that want to enter the legal education market, but only to set the standard and allow schools to reach it.  As for the number of graduating lawyers entering the market, Mr. Silkenat believes that the problem is not too many lawyers but rather, the lawyers graduating are not going into the fields that are wide open.  One of these fields is the area of public interest work, helping the poor or less fortunate in a community receive legal advice that is affordable.  Because of the lack of lawyers willing to do free or reduced work for the less fortunate in a community, Access to justice has become a very a large issue for the ABA and not an issue that can be expressed or explained in a few paragraphs.
               All in all, it was a good explanation of the future goals and initiatives that the ABA is concerned about and working toward. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Attorneys, The Community, and Significant Other Domestic Violence by Bo Murphy

               Currently, in one of my classes, we are discussing the saddening topic of significant other domestic violence from the attorney’s perspective. While it is easy for the attorney to disconnect and go home to their lives, it is not so much for the one’s living this hell. No individual should have to live in fear of their significant other, and more than that, no child should have to vehemently fear their parent.
               Talking to some of the people in my class, they have stated that they will never have anything to do with this field of law, even if they do family law, they stated they would not do it. I asked: “Why?” These abused individuals need help, sometimes the best help, to prove their case, in fact, some of the time they will be at an economic disadvantage from the significant other. So, I asked them why they would run from the ones that need help the most – they answered that basically it was too emotionally charged and they did not want to get in the middle of someone’s private life. I hate to surprise my colleagues, but, we are going to be attorneys, getting in the middle of people’s lives is going to be our job, whether your in bankruptcy, criminal or family, it does not matter.
               Thankfully, our state has a number of laws in place to protect these victims of needless violence, though, who will assist these people in bringing suits against the abusers under these laws, if competent attorneys do not? No one. 
               In this short blog, I have been sure to keep the parties gender neutral.  While, traditionally, we think of domestic violence as a man abusing a woman, as society has progressed, abusive relationships have been reported which involve a woman abusing the man.  However, there is still a deeply engrained stereotype that for a man to report violence would make him appear to be weak, a stereotype that needs to be erased for the greater good, because domestic violence is a community crime, not just a domestic one. Anyone in a domestic abuse relationship with a child is implanting the notion into the impressionable young mind of the child that aggression is acceptable. In fact, research has shown a correlation between children raised in an abusive household, and their future disposition to abuse their future partners.
               While domestic abuse, thankfully, is not rampant in our society, it is something that all significant others should be aware of and knowledgeable that some attorneys and counselors are devoted to their wellbeing. Their wellbeing is what should be most important, the individual’s person is what is most important to them, supreme to everything else and there are people here to ensure that.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Public Action Law Society’s Alternative Spring Break

               Over the law school’s spring break the Public Action Law Society (PALS) held their annual alternative spring break (ASB) program.  This year, the focus of ASB was the need for civil right to counsel.  While our focus was on civil right to counsel, which is not in existence, the students that were involved were focused on several different types of law called tracks.  Overall, the ASB 2014 tracks matched 73 students with 165 clients in 7 distinct service projects.  22 students came from 14 out-of-state law schools.  Students were able to choose from:  family law, criminal law, juvenile law, veterans rights, a research and writing track focused on the Miranda warnings for juveniles, elder law, and immigration law.  The weeks events, involved many different speakers coming into train and to educate about the need for a civil right to counsel.  One of the speakers was our very own, Larry Rice.
               Specifically, The family law track provided five students with the opportunity to guide 15 clients from the Community Legal Center through the pro se divorce process.  Larry came and trained the students in the process for more complicated divorces but our students were focused only on the specific guidelines of the form.  Clients who meet the CLC income requirements and have no children or joint assets with their spouse can apply for an uncontested divorce before a divorce referee with the spouse’s consent and an application fee.  Students appeared before Divorce Referee in Shelby County General Sessions Court on two hearing days. Nine additional litigants were able to file with the clerk and have a hearing set before either a judge or chancellor.