2010 News Articles

December 30, 2010 – Memphis Daily News: Bar Prez Plans Year Of Service

During this month’s annual meeting of the Memphis Bar Association, the gavel was passed to a new president who pushed for his colleagues to take summer interns at their firms. It’s part of a community-minded spirit that private attorney Ricky Wilkins made a theme of his just-ended tenure as the MBA president. And Shuttleworth Williams PLLC partner John Cannon, the MBA’s new president, is picking up right where Wilkins left off. When asked about his goals, Cannon gave a special mention to pairing high school students with law firms where they can work for a four-week period during the summer to get exposed to the legal profession. He’s also particularly fond of seizing opportunities for pro bono work, such as the Saturday legal clinics the bar association hosts with Memphis Area Legal Services. Read More

December 2, 2010 – Memphis Daily News: Bar Association Meeting Moves East

For years, the meeting has been held Downtown. This year’s change in venue mirrors the migration of many firms to East Memphis, although MBA executive director Anne Fritz said moving to the Racquet Club – where the meeting will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. – was more about pursuing “something new and different this year.” Also at Thursday’s meeting, Memphis Area Legal Services will present its pro bono volunteer attorney of the year award to Jennie Latta, a bankruptcy judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Read More

November 18, 2010 – Memphis Daily News: Bar Foundation Sets Grant Record

For the Memphis Bar Association and the charitable foundation affiliated with it, 2010 has been a year characterized by service and giving. That giving has included gifts already extended, such as the Memphis Bar Foundation less than a month ago awarding grants that totaled almost $44,000 to seven local causes – the largest grant amount in the foundation’s history.The bar association, whose president, Ricky Wilkins, has wanted the group to focus on service, has worked this year with local nonprofit organizations, such as the Mid-South Food Bank and Youth Villages. “It just pleases me to no end to reach out to the community, number one, and help all the organizations that do great things,” said Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Donna Fields, president of the bar foundation. “We have Memphis Area Legal Services, and we have other legal clinics that provide access to justice to people who wouldn’t have it otherwise. And we also have encouraged our members to do pro bono work, because there are lots of people who can’t afford lawyers.” Read More

November 11, 2010 – Fox Memphis News: 90-Year Old Woman Loses Home, Sues Lenders

90 year old Annie Auston is one of those people who are out on the streets because of foreclosure. It’s a case the non-profit “Fair Housing Center Of Memphis” could not turn down. The attorney for Ms. Auston says it is one of the worst cases of predatory loans she has ever seen and she’s filed lawsuit to try to get Ms. Auston’s home back. 90-year old Annie Auston lived in her Cordova home since her sons built it for her in 1978. It replaced their childhood home built on the property; on land that had been in the family since the 1920′s. But a few years ago, Ms. Auston found herself out on the street. “She couldn’t believe what had been built for her by her sons, what had been in her family since 1926, that she had accidentally lost it. She had become homeless at that point,” said Sapna Raj, attorney Fair Housing Center. Raj is the attorney representing Ms. Auston in a lawsuit against Home Realty of Memphis, the lender who foreclosed on Ms. Auston’s home. Raj works for the non-profit Fair Housing Center, a division of Memphis Area Legal Services. Read More

October 28, 2010 – Memphis Daily News: Bar Foundation Awards Grants to Seven Causes

The Memphis Bar Foundation, the charitable foundation affiliated with the Memphis Bar Association, has awarded grants totaling $43,832 to seven causes. It’s the largest amount in MBF history. Read More

October 15, 2010 – Memphis Daily News: MALS Celebrates 40 Years of Legal Service

Memphis Area Legal Services has plenty to celebrate: namely, 40 years of providing legal representation to thousands of Memphis-area residents who otherwise would have been unable to exercise their legal rights effectively. “If we provide people legal rights but we don’t give them the tools to exercise them, that’s a big tear in the fabric of our society,” said Vic Fortuno, executive director of the Legal Services Corp., Washington, D.C. A special guest at this week’s 40th anniversary celebration, Fortuno praised MALS for its proud history of providing those tools to individuals who live at or below the poverty line. Read More

October 14, 2010 – Fox Memphis News: Memphis Attorneys Honored (Video)

A group of Memphis attorneys were honored for their work over the past 42 years. A reception was held downtown at the new University of Memphis Law School. 30 lawyers were acknowledged for helping to create the “Memphis Area Legal Services.” The program helps to find free legal representation for people who can’t afford it. Memphis Area Legal Services was created in the summer of 1968, just after Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination. Also, Congressman Steve Cohen received the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services “Legislative Award” for 2010. Read More

October 8, 2010 – Commercial Appeal Guest Column: Providing Everyone With Access To Justice

He was an elderly man and needed repair work on his old car. He went to a repair shop where a part-time employee sold him a refurbished engine for $1,500. This seemed like a good deal until he discovered the engine wasn’t compatible with his car. The repair shop wouldn’t replace the engine and refused to refund his money. He couldn’t afford a lawyer, so he turned to Memphis Area Legal Services. A lawyer from MALS contacted the shop’s manager who initially refused to cooperate. MALS’ attorney aggressively pursued the shop manager on the old man’s behalf, questioning his business practices and preparing for a day in court. The shop manager relented and the elderly man received a $1,500 refund. As MALS enters its fifth decade, we are determined to carry out the dedication and vision of its founders and to help the people of West Tennessee fulfill the promise of equal justice for all. Read More

August 18, 2010 – WMC-TV5 News: Mayor Issues Warning About Predatory Lenders (Video)

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton sent out a warning Wednesday regarding predatory lenders. “Folks who have already suffered a horrible situation…here comes somebody scavenging, making a horrible situation even worse,” he said. Wharton spoke at the launch of a new campaign organized to combat loan scams. It was designed to help protect Memphis homeowners attempting to refinance mortgages or prevent foreclosures. “In the last 18 months, we’ve helped about 2,000 people,” said Sapna Raj of Memphis Area Legal Services. “What we do is interview people. People don’t always realize they’re being scammed because they’re desperate to get help, and they go to somewhere when they’re in financial trouble anyway.” Read More

July 27, 2010 – WMC-TV5 News: Seniors receive Free Legal Advice At Clinic (Video)

Hundreds of senior citizens received free legal advice Tuesday during a special clinic in Orange Mound. Volunteers with Memphis Area Legal Services held the special event at the Orange Mound Community Center. “I’m here today about my wishes in the event of my death,” attendee Billie Winding said. Some seniors, like Winding, needed help making out a will, while others got advice on getting a power of attorney. Still others were interested in setting up an advanced care plan – a document that spells out exactly what they would want doctors and relatives to do if they were unable to make those decisions for themselves. Read More

July 13, 2010 – The Commercial Appeal: Wharton, Bankruptcy Judges To Testify At House Judiciary Hearing In Memphis

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and two Memphis-based bankruptcy judges are among the witnesses scheduled to testify when a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee holds a field hearing Monday Downtown. A third panel, expected to testify about the home foreclosure situation in Memphis from a academic perspective, includes professor Phyllis Betts of the University of Memphis school of urban affairs and public policy; Sapna Raj of Memphis Area Legal Services; Beverly Anderson of the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis; Steve Lockwood of the Frayser Community Development Corporation; and Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Read More

June 24, 2010 – The Memphis Flyer: Funding Legal Services

Most of us live in a cocoon of self-importance — or, to put that more gently, self-absorption. And the latter condition is getting to be downright universal, as economic conditions and changes in the world make the business of hanging in there ever more tenuous. Which is one among many reasons that the visit to Our Town this week of Carolyn Lamm, the newly installed president of the American Bar Association (A.B.A.), was so welcome. One of Lamm’s missions was to ring the bell on behalf of Memphis Area Legal Services, an agency which exists for the sole purpose of providing access to the legal system — and to justice itself — for low-income citizens who otherwise would be unprotected and at the mercy of events or predators or exploiters. Read More

June 24, 2010 – Memphis Daily News: Globalization Has Huge Ethical Impact, ABA President Says

The president of the American Bar Association says there are “tremendous” ethical implications for the globalization of law practices. Carolyn Lamm spoke this week at the Memphis Rotary Club in what has been an annual ritual for whoever becomes head of the national association. While in the city, Lamm talked with leaders of Memphis Area Legal Services and met with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. Lamm said there is a growing gap in terms of legal representation for the poor. Read More

May 23, 2010 – The Commercial Appeal: Poorest Debtors Get Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing Assistance For Free

Surviving on $606 a month in Social Security disability payments, Tanya Sims owes thousands of dollars to credit card companies and has three payday loans totaling $980, all more than two years old, that she can’t pay off. Nine others joined her at the session, part of a MALS-Memphis Bar Association program to provide free bankruptcy legal services for Chapter 7 filings to people who can’t afford the lawyers’ fees. Read More

May 06, 2010 – The Tennessee Bar Association: Service At Heart Of Practice For Morris

A toll-free legal assistance line will be available starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. for victims of recent storms and flooding in the 30 counties that to date have been designated as federal disaster areas. The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer, is a partnership between the Tennessee Bar Association, local bar associations and legal organizations in the state. Read More

May 06, 2010 – The Daily News: Service At Heart Of Practice For Morris

Ordinarily, Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC attorney Paul Morris would have stepped down in 2010 as president of Memphis Area Legal Services Inc., but he felt compelled to stay for MALS’ 40th anniversary – and the opportunity it presents to promote the cause. “It’s not just a celebration,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to remind the community about the need for justice under the law.” In addition to organizing a celebration this fall, Morris hopes to raise money for more staff attorneys. Because MALS has a limited staff, it has to turn away two out of three eligible people who ask for help. Read More

April 29, 2010 – The Daily News Journal: Recipients Announced For Low-Income Tax Clinics

The Internal Revenue Service has awarded nearly $10 million in matching grants to Low Income Taxpayer Clinics, including over $184,000 to three organizations in Tennessee: Legal Aid Society of Middle Tenn. and The Cumberlands, based in Oak Ridge, Memphis Area Legal Services , Inc., and Conexion Americas in Nashville. LITCs are organizations that represent low-income taxpayers in federal tax controversies with the IRS for free or for a nominal charge, provide tax education and outreach for taxpayers who speak English as a second language, or both. Read More

April 27, 2010 – John G. Levi: Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives

In my hometown, the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago operates a Home Ownership Preservation Project to handle foreclosure actions, and its intake telephone lines usually shut down in early afternoon on Mondays—for the week. Because of limited staff resources and the complexity of the cases, the foreclosure project staff can only handle 50 such cases per week. With the continuing foreclosure crisis, our challenge is large. I understand that Harrison D. McIver III, executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services, appeared before the Subcommittee last October and clearly laid out the need in Tennessee. Mr. McIver reported that he has seen an increase in the poverty population served by his program and that requests for legal services are on the increase. Read More

March 12, 2010 – Commercial Appeal: Seedco Helps The Working Poor Cut Red Tape To Get Needed Services

The working poor often learn that finding helpful services is only half of the battle, but a nonprofit organization is working to make the connections happen faster. Seedco, a nonprofit based in New York, expanded its capacity to connect disadvantaged families to the services they need in Memphis through a database called EarnBenefits. EarnBenefits is available through Memphis Area Legal Services, Porter-Leath, the Exchange Club Family Center, Christ Community Health Services, and Tennessee Community Services Agency. Read More

February 03, 2010 – Fox News: Beware Of Fast Tax Refund Temptation

Tax time means big business. The Consumer Federation of America says we lost about $800 million in 2008 to “quickie tax refund loans.” The IRS plans to regulate the tax preparation industry, but those rules aren’t expected to be enforced until next tax season. In the meantime, one consumer advocate wants you to take precautions with the money you’re entitled to from the IRS. Memphis Area Legal Services Attorney Frank Cantrell warns, you’ll pay for that instant cash with a “Refund Anticipation Loan.” Read More

January 15, 2010 – TBA Link: Memphis Law Student Named Student Volunteer of the Year

Diana Comes, a student at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, will be honored with the state’s top award for law student pro bono work at the Tennessee Bar Association’s annual public service luncheon this Saturday. Held each year as part of the association’s Leadership Conference, the luncheon features award winners in several categories and a keynote address by former ABA President Robert Grey. Comes receives the Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award for her outstanding work last summer with Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS). Read More

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