NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 29, 2016—Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands kicked off its 2016 Campaign for Equal Justice, Legal Aid Society’s annual fundraising initiative, on Wednesday, March 16th with a luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton—Downtown Nashville. This year, Legal Aid Society’s goal is to raise $827,000 to support its mission to provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals throughout Middle Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau.
The luncheon reminded the crowd why the non-profit law firm’s mission is critical to the livelihoods of so many in Middle Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau. A dynamic panel of women who have advanced the mission of Legal Aid Society discussed its role in changing lives through civil legal representation, education and advocacy.
Panelists included Margaret Behm, principal at Dodson, Parker, Behm & Capparella, Judy Bond-McKissack, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education, Judge Juliet Griffin, retired from the U.S. District Court, Middle District and Chancellor Carol McCoy, 20th Judicial District, Part II. All the panelists were Legal Aid Society attorneys in the early 70s. Lucinda Smith, director of Legal Aid Society’s Volunteer Lawyers Program, moderated the panel.
The participants discussed Legal Aid Society’s influential role in advancing women in the practice of law—and how the industry has grown both for legal aid programs and female lawyers.
“When I went to the Clarksville office, there were no women practicing—with the exception of three women in the legal services office and one judge who was on the bench,” said Bond-McKissack. “At Legal Aid, we did a lot of domestic abuse work, and we noticed many women felt more comfortable talking to other women. So there was real value in this particular area of the law. Because of that, I think the women in legal services really did help to promote more women in the practice.”
Chancellor McCoy added, “When I started practicing law, I think I could name all eight women with the court. We stand on the shoulders of all those women, and for the youth out there—they get to stand on our shoulders.”
All panelists agreed that the one constant over the years was, and continues to be, the severe need for Legal Aid Society’s services.
The Campaign for Equal Justice is an annual initiative that raises funds for Legal Aid Society, Tennessee’s largest nonprofit law firm. In 2015, the campaign received a record-breaking
$820,924. The goal for the 2016 campaign is $827,000 and is led by Trey Harwell, attorney and partner at Neal and Harwell, PLC.
The kickoff luncheon also celebrated the efforts of law firms, attorneys and community partners in advancing the work of Legal Aid Society, including the 2016 Leadership Cabinet – a group of 47 Nashville law firms and in-house legal departments that have committed to giving $400 per attorney. New members to the Leadership Cabinet for 2016 include: Berry & Tudor; Neal & Harwell; Ortale Kelley; and Patterson Intellectual Property Law, P.C.
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands advocates for fairness and justice under the law. The non-profit law firm offers free civil legal representation and educational programs to help people in its region receive justice, protect their well-being and support opportunities to overcome poverty. It serves 48 counties from offices in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Oak Ridge and Tullahoma. Legal Aid Society is funded in part by United Way. Learn more at www.las.org, or by following the firm on Facebook.