341: Lawyers Doing Good Matters

My law firm recently met with a public relations group, who gave us the pitch on all the things they could do for us, including beefing up our presence on LinkedIn, posting special interest stories on our corporate Facebook page, and more Twitter updates.

After this week of front page stories and national press, I’m not sure we need too much help. Here’s a look at the stories we’ve been involved in this week…

Continue reading “341: Lawyers Doing Good Matters”

New Court of Appeals Opinion provides good statement of doctrine of Res Judicata

As lawyers, the business model is fairly simple: We sell our time, multiplied by our hourly rates.

This creates a huge disconnect between clients and lawyers. All clients want their matters resolved in their favor, but also quickly, smartly, and cost-efficiently (that’s a nice way to say for as little legal fees as possible). On the other hand, the lawyer-industrial-complex wants lawyers to ponder, research, litigate, bill, examine, depose, etc. (i.e. for as many billable hours as possible).

First off, run away from lawyers like that.

Second, if you’re a lawyer and want clients to be happy, you should read this new Tennessee Court of Appeals opinion, which discusses the concept of res judicata. That’s a doctrine that allows parties to avoid unnecessary, duplication litigation, when the issues have already been decided by a court.

The facts aren’t that important, so I’ll just focus on the legal discussion.  The Court wrote: Continue reading “New Court of Appeals Opinion provides good statement of doctrine of Res Judicata”

341 Meeting: Suing Your Own Employees; Public Schools; Urgent Political Spam

Hassling Poor People, Who Happen to be Your Own Employees. When the economy hit rock bottom in 2009 or so, all kinds of doctors, lawyers, private schools hired me to collect their debts. Many had never dealt with bad debt before, or the awful circumstances that lead to defaults. They just saw the bad debt and thought it could be an income stream for them. It was an eye-opening lesson for many.

Since then, I occasionally have had to tell some of my clients that some debt isn’t worth collecting, whether it’s a low return on investment or, frankly, just bad PR.

This story out of Memphis reminds me of that.   NPR reports that Methodist Le Bonheur Hospital is making national news for its practice of suing its own employees when they can’t pay their medical bills, and then using some pretty aggressive collection tactics when they can’t pay the judgments rendered in the lawsuits.

…what is striking at Methodist, the largest hospital system in the Memphis region, is how many of the patients being sued are the hospital’s own employees. Hardly a week goes by in which Methodist workers aren’t on the court docket fighting debt lawsuits filed by their employer.

That’s a really bad look, especially in a climate where employers are criticized for not paying a living wage and also terrible health insurance benefits. Continue reading “341 Meeting: Suing Your Own Employees; Public Schools; Urgent Political Spam”

341 Meeting Recap: Thoughts on Hell’s Half Acre; Beware When Judges are too Nice; Karaoke Happy Hour; Sue the Collector.com

Welcome to the “341 Meeting,” at 3:41pm (well, today, I’m posting at 11:41, just to get it out here).

This will be a regular series of posts (on Thursdays, at 3:41) that will be longer, but made up of smaller, semi-relevant items about local legal issues. A lot of you (about 1,000) “subscribe” here and get an e-mail every time I post an update, and this is a way to get mini-blasts out (without clogging up your inboxes with a bunch of smaller posts). 

But, first, a video from Judge George Paine of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Middle District of Tennessee…. only those of you who have attended a Nashville 341 Meeting will get that…nevermind…

Continue reading “341 Meeting Recap: Thoughts on Hell’s Half Acre; Beware When Judges are too Nice; Karaoke Happy Hour; Sue the Collector.com”

Want to be a better lawyer? Attend a Court of Appeals argument.

I recently had two oral arguments set on the same day in the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which was a fairly stressful experience. But, by the time the second docket came around, I had a really good idea of where to go, where to sit, how the dockets would start, who would say what, and all the little details.

Honestly, I was a little irritated at myself for not attending an oral argument docket a few months before, just for the experience and insight.

So, here’s my advice to you: If you’ve got a appeal pending and haven’t Continue reading “Want to be a better lawyer? Attend a Court of Appeals argument.”

Nashville Business Journal Names Me “Best of Bar” for Bankruptcy!

If you’re a subscriber to the Nashville Business Journal or, otherwise, just an enthusiast of  lawyer recognition awards, you may have already heard the news:

Last week, I was named one of Middle Tennessee’s Best of the Bar for 2019 (in Bankruptcy) by the Nashville Business Journal!

This honor pales in comparison to the cover story from the Nashville Scene in July 2010, for my winning entry their You are So Nashville If… contest, but I’m proud to receive this award. Unlike many lawyer awards, the Best of the Bar lists are based on nominations from the public, with the ultimate winners voted on by the nominees and their peers.

Continue reading “Nashville Business Journal Names Me “Best of Bar” for Bankruptcy!”

2019 Tennessee Legislature is considering a new homestead that would eliminate a creditor’s ability to collect against residential real property

One of my most common phrases on this site is “Tennessee is a creditor friendly state.” Another is “Always file a Judgment Lien against real property.”

Well, that may change very soon. The Tennessee Legislature is considering a very debtor-friendly increase to the homestead exemption that will make Tennessee, literally, one of the most generous states in the country for debtors.

I’m specifically talking about House Bill 0236 and Senate Bill 0399, which would increase Tennessee’s homestead exemption to as high as $750,000. Except for those states that have an “unlimited” exemption, this would make Tennessee’s homestead the highest in the nation.

The Legislature considered a similar increase in 2012, which I wrote about back then, which didn’t pass.

“Exemptions” allow a debtor to protect certain property from the reach of creditors. Exemptions are designed so that a judgment creditor can’t take everything, so household goods, retirement accounts, and other necessities can be exempted, so that a downfallen debtor can keep the shirt on his back and rebuild his life.

Or, if this new law passes, the downfallen debtor can keep 100% of the equity in his $750,000 house entirely out of the reach of creditors.

Wait a second. Is this law designed to protect downtrodden debtors seeking a fresh start in life (who very probably do not have high value real property at all) or, maybe, is it designed to protect high income individuals whose businesses fail?

Because that’s all this proposed law does. It grants fairly absolute protection to the high value real property owned by judgment debtors in Tennessee, and all the garnishments, levies, liens, and bankruptcies will never touch a penny of that equity.