If you’re looking forward to your flight to South Florida as much as I am (and attending DRI's Young Lawyers seminar), you’ve probably already got your stack of magazines ready.  In flipping through US Weekly, I noticed the Snickers ad campaign “Help Us Bar Hunger.”  Snickers is donating the cash equivalent of 2.5 Million meals and an additional cash donation in an amount equal to 2 meals will be made for each 8 digit or 12 digit Bar Code Number entered on www.snickers.com until June 27th.  There is a ten bar maximum per day, so don’t get too carried away.    

Snickers is not alone in our quest to fight hunger:  Baskin Robbins will provide one meal for every sale of their Iced Cappy Blast or new “like” on their Facebook page; and Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille will donate $1 from every Po’Boy to the Florida Association of Food Banks.

The DRI Young Lawyers Committee will continue our tradition of community service by spending an afternoon with Feeding South Florida on June 13th at 12:30 p.m. Attendees will inspect, clean, sort and get donations ready for distribution to partner agencies and their clients.  Participation is open to all seminar attendees and their families (age limits may apply). Transportation will be provided. Please join us in this opportunity to give back to the South Florida community while developing and strengthening relationships with your fellow young lawyers.  

Looking forward to seeing you on June 13th!

Note:  Neither Snickers nor Baskin Robbins are sponsors of this blog or DRI.
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May 1 is Law Day

Posted on May 1, 2012 04:35 by Matthew Cairns

I often find it curious that Law Day falls on May 1st.  Growing up, May 1st was always the day the news carried pictures of over the top parades in Red Square in Moscow where the USSR would display its missiles, goose stepping soldiers and mummified Politburo.  In hindsight, that seems quite antithetical to what I now celebrate on May 1st – the rule of law that sets our country apart from all others.  Being a lawyer should be and most often is a noble profession.  Incrementally, lawyers and judges shape the rules of conduct for society.  We protect the rights of individuals who are victims of crime.  We hold the government’s feet to the fire when it seeks to deprive a person of liberty.  We work to ensure that injured persons are fairly compensated when they prove their case to a jury of their peers.  We provide the vehicles for businesses to form, grow, prosper and provide jobs.  We protect assets at death so that heirs can enjoy the fruits of their loved ones’ hard work.  So on May 1, 2012, remember the great things lawyers and judges do for society and all of us, and not the punch lines of inane lawyer jokes. 

Matt is a partner with Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell in Concord, New Hampshire.  He is the DRI Immediate Past President.  He also sits on the Board of Directors for the NFJE and LCJ.

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Road Warriors and Heroes

Posted on March 6, 2012 01:53 by Noelle M. Natoli-Duffy

As I sat in church last weekend, my pastor began to speak on the lesson of “Looking for Holiness.” He asked us to look for signs in the acts of everyday heroes and sheroes, and then he told the following story. He was in the fast lane, on a Friday evening of a 3-day weekend, on the largest freeway in Southern California, when his car decided to simply stop running. As he sat there, waiting for his car service come (anything within the next 30-90 minutes, not including traffic), a big red truck pulled up behind him. The team drivers stopped traffic, came to his window, and offered to push his car across five lanes of heavy traffic to the safety of the emergency lane. He accepted their assistance but before he could thank them or even get their names, they continued on their way, likely trying to make up some time from the holiday traffic.

As an advocate for the trucking industry, I am often disheartened by the countless news articles and headlines disparaging truckers and the trucking industry in general. However, stories like this inspire me to share more good news of the trucking industry.  I have represented hundreds of trucking companies and their drivers and have found them to be some of the most down-to-earth, hardworking, and God-fearing men and women I have come across not only in my years of practice, but in my time on this planet. As we are rapidly approaching the end of the first quarter of this year, a year in which trucking companies have already reported their highest increase in freight in 13 years (or a 5.9% increase in freight according to the American Trucking Association), I would like to share some of the headlines featuring the good work truckers and trucking companies are doing across the nation, and beyond!

 ·         The organization Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is working to eliminate human trafficking. The stated goal of the organization is, “to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking.”

 ·         The Women in Trucking (WIT) association is promoting diversity through their partnership with the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association who will now include a category in their Annual Compass Awards for the awareness of minorities and women in the transportation industry.

 ·         Steve Towers, of ACME Haulage in Los Angeles, California made news by pledging funds to help a British boy, Theo Bishop, fly to the United States for surgery to treat his cerebral palsy. Towers also promised to reach out to other trucking companies to help the youth.

 ·         Due to the advocacy of a truck driver’s widow, Sarah VanWasshnova, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers’ Association the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highway bill will include a study for crashworthiness standards in truck cabs. Ms. VanWasshnova’s husband, a 30-year truck driver, died from blunt force trauma when he hit the steering column in a collision. 

 ·         Advocacy by OOIDA and a second truck driver’s widow, Sandy Hardendorf, helped the writing of Jason’s Law when her husband was shot while parked at a gas station. House of Representatives Bill 1803 proposed funding for additional, safe truck parking on our nation’s highways.

 ·         J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced that it is once again raising its quarterly dividend to common shareholders.

 ·         The Trucking Conditions Index reached 7.0 in December indicating an overall improvement in the trucking climate for the coming year.

 ·         Toronto-based, Trucks for Change Network announced the launch of MOVEmatrix, a new program which allows charities to partner with trucking companies to transport goods and other donations.

 ·         In December, Trucker Charity Inc. raised over $7,000 for needy trucking families in time for Christmas. The charitable organization has raised over $37,000 and helped 59 families over the past four years.

 And last, but not least,

 ·         In January, Port Arthur, Texas Sherriff’s Officers credited an unknown commercial truck driver with saving the lives of countless individuals in a 50-vehicle pile-up on Highway 73. The driver saw the accident ahead, stopped, activated his four-ways, and alerted all the other truck drivers by CB to “go ahead and shut it down.” According to the officer, “That’s the only thing that stopped this from being a true tragedy.” If anyone knows the identity of this driver, please give him a big “thank you.”

Good news of the trucking industry’s efforts, such as these makes me proud to represent this industry.  Keep up the good work and thanks again to all the anonymous drivers helping people one by one each day on the highway, you truly make a difference.




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Volunteering for the Troops!

Posted on February 15, 2012 06:37 by Admin

DRI would like to recognize and thank the over 30 attendees of this month’s Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar, who volunteered their time to prepare packages to send to U.S. troops and their children.  In conjunction with Operation Gratitude, attendees stuffed 300 teddy bears to give to the children of deployed soldiers and prepared hundreds of gift bags to be sent to troops in Afghanistan, sailors and marines stationed on Navy ships, and to Wounded Warrior Transition Units throughout the United States.  

In addition, several DRI member firms sponsored "Jeans Days", which raised over $9,000 for Operation Gratitude. 
Participating firms included:

Akerman Senterfitt LLP
Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love LLP
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Greenberg Traurig LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Thompson Hine LLP
Tucker Ellis & West LLP
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP
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Categories: Community Service | Seminar | Toxic Tort

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DRI's Public Service Committee will hold a service project  for the the Nashville flood relief clean up on Saturday, May 15 from 2:30-7:00. To participate, please go to the site below. It will direct you to the HON website page where the project is listed. Register for the 2:30- 7:00 project in North Nashville. (the last one on the list).

The meeting spot for this project is the Beech Creek Missonary Baptist Church at 301 Curtis Street in North Nashville. Volunteers will be dispersed from this location to the surrounding community to participate in a variety of projects. To ensure we are all placed on the same team ,  please email  Laura Proctor or Todd Presnell once you have registered to be added to the groups list.

Thank you,

Laura Proctor  - Chair DRI Public Service Committee
Associate General Counsel
LP Building Products
414 Union Street Suite 2000
Nashville Tn  37219
Todd Presnell--Vice Chair DRI Public Service Committee
Miller & Martin PLLC
1200 One Nashville Place
150 Fourth Avenue, North
Nashville, TN 37219
Phone (615) 744-8447

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Categories: Community Service

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Last year, the first annual National Pro Bono Celebration was held October 25 through October 31. The Celebration was marked by a coordinated national effort to emphasize the importance of pro bono service, to thank the attorneys and paralegals who give their time for this great cause, and to recruit new pro bono volunteers to meet the legal needs of the impoverished and defenseless. Law firms, law schools, courts, bar associations, and local pro bono programs across the country sponsored and participated in local events. The Celebration was a great success and brought much recognition to this critical component of our profession.

As young lawyers, we are often faced with the reality of spending too much time working and not enough time engaged in the many other demands of an active, well-rounded lifestyle, such as spending time with our families, exercising, vacationing, or engaged in social activities. After balancing the demands of work and personal lives, many attorneys simply do not have the time to provide pro bono legal services. However, we as young lawyers should strive to overcome any obstacles to providing ongoing and meaningful pro bono service, not only because we have a recognized ethical obligation to do so, but also so that we can engage in valuable learning experiences and seize the opportunity to utilize our skills to serve the underprivileged.

The historical roots behind the tradition of pro bono legal services are relatively obscure. Nonetheless, scholars have observed that "[t]he duty to represent indigents without a fee in the Anglo-American system has been traced to practices in early Roman tribunals, medieval ecclesiastical courts, and thirteenth-to-fourteenth century Scottish and English legal proceedings." Pro Bono in Principle and in Practice: Public Service and the Professions 1-3 (Stanford University Press 2005). In American history specifically, the tradition of pro bono was not well established until the 1970s, and prior to such time, pro bono requirements were not included in any state or national professional or ethical canons for attorneys. Id. at 5.

What, then, is the source of our ethical duty to provide pro bono services? Although no state has yet implemented a rule requiring mandatory pro bono service, the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct state that every "lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year." ABA Model Rule 6.1. This 50-hour aspiration applies "regardless of professional prominence or professional workload." Comment 1 to ABA Rule 6.1. Most states have adopted some form of suggested or recommend pro bono activity. A summary of each state's pro bono requirements is available on the ABA website at http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/stateethicsrules.html.

Although the ABA has considered on several occasions the possibility of adopting a mandatory pro bono service requirement in its Model Rules, no such bid has yet been successful. See, e.g., Harris, Let's Make Lawyers Happy: Advocating Mandatory Pro Bono,19 N. Ill. L. Rev. 287 (1999). Indeed, some attorneys are vehemently opposed to such a requirement, and have responded with what this author would characterize as the wrong approach: court challenges claiming that mandatory pro bono is unconstitutional on the grounds of due process and equal protection. See, e.g., DeLisio v. Alaska Supreme Court, 740 P.2d 437 (Alaska 1987) (court appointment of an attorney to represent an indigent criminal defendant was an unconstitutional taking); Stephan v. Smith, 747 P.2d 816 (Kan. 1987) (Fifth Amendment is implicated by court appointment that imposes genuine interference with attorney's practice, as attorney's services are property under the Fifth Amendment). Attorneys have not, however, been successful on constitutional challenges premised on the basis of the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibitions against involuntary servitude. See, e.g., Williamson v. Vardeman, 674 F.2d 1211 (8th Cir. 1982) (Thirteenth Amendment does not prohibit mandatory forms of public service). Despite these constitutional challenges, the national momentum appears to be heading in the direction of voluntary pro bono service goals, limited reporting requirements of pro bono activity, and alternative options for lawyers who simply do not themselves have the time to serve, such as making financial contributions to organizations sponsoring pro bono work.

This author submits that pro bono legal services should be performed because we as attorneys have a moral obligation, independent of any strict ethical requirement as a prerequisite for retaining our licenses, to serve those who are in need of our help, and that fulfilling this moral obligation is an immeasurably satisfying experience. Indeed, "[p]ersonal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer." Comment 1 to ABA Rule Model Rule 6.1.

In addition to the personal rewards derived from such service, numerous other justifications for pro bono service can be advanced, including, among others, reputational benefits to the person providing the service and his or her employer, career development opportunities, technical training on legal skills, including drafting, interviewing, and arguing skills, learning new areas of law, acquiring and honing leadership skills, developing and bettering interpersonal skills, and broadening personal contacts and networks. See D. Rhode, supra, Pro Bono in Principle and in Practice: Public Service and the Professions,at 98. These justifications provide powerful incentives for young lawyers to pursue pro bono work.

There are many opportunities for young lawyers to get involved in pro bono legal services. The following is a summary of some of the many pro bono programs that need attorney volunteers.

Wills for Heroes and local affiliates

Wills for Heroes is a national foundation implemented by local bar associations that provides free wills, health care directives, and powers of attorney for police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. Data collected by the Wills for Heroes Foundation suggests that 80-90% of first responders do not have wills. Wills for Heroes was formed after the September 11 tragedy to address this need. Wills for Heroes organizers provide a one-stop-shop for both first responders seeking estate planning, and attorneys seeking a convenient way to provide pro bono service in an organized setting with a discrete time commitment.

Wills for Heroes organizers typically hold "events" during which attorneys meet with many first responders and prepare estate documents for numerous individuals over the course of a daylong event. Many state bar associations have adopted the Wills for Heroes program, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, New Mexico, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. Since the program was started, over 10,000 wills and estate planning documents have been created for first responders. The beauty of this program is that attorneys who volunteer to give pro bono service do not need to be experts in estate law. Rather, the Wills for Heroes event organizers provide comprehensive training to lawyers on estate issues on the morning of the event, and attorneys specialized in estate planning and taxation are on-site to answer questions for the entire event.

General information about Wills for Heroes is available on the national Foundation's website, www.willsforheroes.org. Check with your state or local bar association to find out if the program has been implemented in your state. If not, you can find information on the national Wills for Heroes website about organizing a Wills for Heroes event in conjunction with your local bar association.

The Innocence Project and local affiliates

The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system. The Innocence Project accepts attorney volunteers who are interested in working on cases selected by the Project. The national Innocence Project website is www.innocenceproject.org. The Innocence Project is located in New York, but local Innocence Project organizations exist in nearly every state. A listing of local innocence project organizations that are in need of pro bono attorney volunteers is available at http://www.innocenceproject.org/about/Other-Projects.php?phpMyAdmin=52c4ab7ea46t7da4197.

American Civil Liberties Union and local affiliates

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nationwide, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to working in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve constitutional rights and liberties. The national ACLU website is www.aclu.org. There are local ACLU affiliates in every single state that need volunteer attorneys to work cooperatively with ACLU staff attorneys on pending cases. Volunteering with the ACLU as an attorney involves many diverse types of projects, from researching legal issues and drafting briefs, reviewing proposed legislation, and preparing complaints to administrative agencies.

ABA Pro Bono Initiatives

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has established the national Center for Pro Bono, a comprehensive source of information, resources, and assistance to facilitate and promote pro bono legal assistance. At present, the Center for Pro Bono is sponsoring numerous pro bono initiatives, including the Business Law Pro Bono Project, the Child Custody and Adoption Pro Bono Project, the Medical-Legal Partnerships Pro Bono Project, the Peer Consulting Project, and the Rural Pro Bono Project, all of which you can read about at http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/nav_projects.shtml.

Your Local Bar Association, Legal Aid Society, Guardian ad Litem Office, and Pro Bono Initiatives

Many more pro bono opportunities are available at the local level. Check your city, county, and state bar associations' websites for information about upcoming pro bono opportunities. If you want to get involved in a more structured manner, instead of taking on an entire case for an indefinite period of time, many organizations sponsor weekly or monthly events where attorneys can volunteer to answer questions or assist with document preparation for just a few hours, and most do not require any specialized skills or training beyond your law license. Many guardian ad litem offices seek volunteer attorneys to represent children in domestic, dependency and neglect proceedings and offer free training in order to qualify for appointments. Local legal aid and related pro bono projects always need lawyers willing to take on a research or drafting assignment.

If there are no pro bono opportunities available where you are, you can also take the lead in organizing new programs or implementing local chapters of national pro bono organizations. All it takes is a commitment to the public good and a desire to help the underprivileged and those who sacrifice their lives to protect our safety, both here and abroad. Good luck in finding a rewarding pro bono opportunity that meets with your skills, time commitment, and interests! The people in need will thank you immensely.

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Categories: Community Service

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DRI Board to do Community Service in Orlando

Posted on February 18, 2010 04:47 by Laura Proctor

For years DRI has facilitated opportunities for our members to give back to the community. One way has been through public service projects at our seminars and the Annual Meeting.  In fact, since 2004 DRI has sponsored 18 public service projects.  These projects have reached out to 12 different organizations in 9 different cities across the country

The next project on the public service agenda will occur next week at the DRI Board of Directors Winter Board Meeting in Orlando. On Saturday, after the conclusion of the meeting, the Officers and Board members will travel to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s Food Rescue Center to help package and sort donated items to be handed out to the organizations they support. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects stores and distributes donated food to more than 500 partner agencies in six Central Florida Food Rescue Centers.  We are very excited about this opportunity to help the community and continue DRI’s commitment to public service. More...

Categories: Community Service

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