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VOL. 127 | NO. 216 | Monday, November 5, 2012

Full Docket

Law school’s 50th highlights happenings in legal industry

By Andy Meek

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Here’s a look at what’s going on at the moment in the city’s legal community and some things that are on the horizon.

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, which turns 50 this year, in 2010 moved into the historic U.S. Custom House/Courthouse/Post Office on Front Street in Downtown.

(Daily News File Photo: Brandon Dill)

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is celebrating its golden anniversary this year. On Oct. 27, the school held its 50th anniversary celebration for the Downtown facility, which opened in 2010 and marked a new chapter for a building that once was the Front Street post office for nearly 40 years and a federal courthouse before that.

The celebration was expected to draw more than 1,500 alumni and community members from across the city, state and country. And it honored both the school’s history and the people who’ve been part of that history, including former deans, professors and alumni.

Speaking of the law school, it’s been making some changes. One such tweak is a new pro bono requirement, which now makes students complete a certain amount of pro bono legal work in order to graduate.

“All students must give 40 hours of their time to pro bono legal activities,” said the law school’s interim dean William Kratzke. “I think that’s going to be good for everybody. I think it’s going to be good for the community, and I think it’ll be good for the students and good for the school.

“In many ways, the school has come a long way. We’re very different than we were 50 years ago. For one thing, we’re in a new building. And we’re celebrating all of that together this year.”

The school moved Downtown thanks to the U.S. Postal Service in 2006 agreeing to move out. A $5.3 million deal was worked out to turn the property over to the University of Memphis.

In other news, the Memphis Bar Association has a new health care law section. It’s partly a reflection of Memphis’ dynamic medical and biotechnology community, not to mention health care reform that’s currently a hot political topic.

The new section held an organizational meeting Oct. 17 at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to choose officers. It’s headed up by St. Jude deputy general counsel Robyn Diaz.

Diaz said the new section’s members have voted unanimously to give back to the community by agreeing to sponsor the September 2013 Saturday legal clinic organized by the Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.

On Nov. 8, the bar association will host a public forum to discuss the importance of a fair and impartial justice system and the rule of law in American society. Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Gina Higgins and attorneys Porter Feild and Tommy Parker will be on hand to lead the discussion.

Its purpose is to serve as a part history, part civics lesson to help the general public better understand the daily operations of the legal system and the important role it plays in everyday lives.

Students pass through the lobby of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, whose 50th anniversary highlights a dynamic period for the city’s legal community. 

(Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)

Among the recent attorney changes in Memphis, Frederick Lewis has joined the labor and employment department at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. Lewis, who joins as senior counsel, was previously with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, & Stewart, PC.

He’ll maintain offices in Baker Donelson’s Memphis and Knoxville locations, and he represents management in employment litigation and labor relations matters.

Baker Donelson also has added several other attorneys in Memphis. Luke Cantrell has joined the firm as an associate in the advocacy department; Kristin Clay Dunavant and William O’Connor have joined the firm as associates in the securities/corporate governance group; and Sarah Pazar and Mary Wu have joined the firm as associates in the advocacy department.

Austin Byrd has joined Bailey & Greer PLLC. He’ll concentrate on mass tort and multi-district litigation involving dangerous drugs and medical devices. He also is focused on Medicare fraud and other abuses within the health care system, including violations of the False Claims Act.

Byrd counsels health care professionals and medical device companies in commercial negotiations and dispute resolution.

Evans Petree PC has hired four attorneys from Less, Getz & Lipman PLC. They are Joseph Getz, Beth Stengel, John Willet and Tracy Bradshaw. Their addition brings the total number of shareholders at Evans Petree to 50 and coincides with the addition of construction law to the firm’s growing list of specialty practice areas.

The firm will focus on representing contractors, subcontractors, designers, surety bonding companies, developers, property owners and material suppliers during contract negotiations, disputes and resolutions.

PROPERTY SALES 50 226 2,557
MORTGAGES 44 145 1,731
BUILDING PERMITS 204 569 5,701