Pro Bono Hall of Fame
From our founding days under the leadership of Nashville attorney Riney Green to our ongoing partnerships with nationwide private and public interest law firms, we have come to realize that TJC’s mission relies on the work of countless people beyond our staff. We are inspired daily by the generosity of individuals and companies who have come to the aid of our clients. To recognize the tremendous amount of support that TJC has received over the years, we have begun an annual award for the lawyer and law firm that have carried the torch for our clients.
Our 2017 Honoree
In 2017, TJC honored Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Jeff Gibson as the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Jeff and a colleague at Bass provided pro bono representation to a TJC client who had been denied TennCare coverage for a nursing home. The team won the hearing for the client and the nursing home reimbursed the client’s wife thousands of dollars. Jeff was so inspired by his first successful TennCare case that he spearheaded an ongoing project at Bass to provide pro bono assistance to other TJC clients having problems establishing their eligibility for TennCare or getting medically necessary services once they have enrolled in the program.
Thanks to Jeff’s efforts, Bass attorneys have provided successful pro bono representation to five low-income clients. One of those cases, in which Jeff and another Bass attorney served as pro bono co-counsel with TJC, was a successful federal court suit involving a working mother of three who was wrongly denied TennCare coverage for two months—while she was in a coma.
Our 2016 Honoree
In 2016, TJC honored Pam Wright as our Pro Bono attorney of the year. As the first certified elder law attorney in Tennessee, Wright has provided TJC attorneys and our clients with an enormous invaluable technical assistance on our most complex cases involving aging Tennesseans.
Our 2015 Honoree
In 2015, TJC honored Beth Edmondson as our Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. When TJC asked for help representing a 16 year old client who was losing the home health hours that she had recevied her whole life, Edmondson stepped up. Not only did Edmondson win the case at an adminstrative hearing, but when TennCare appealed the judge’s decision, Edmondson took the case the next step to Chancery Court and won again. See a video of the presentation of the award here: https://youtu.be/k0Hml9ar2nI
Our 2014 Honoree
Brad Morgan, the coordinator of access to justice and mentoring programs for the UT College of Law, was named the Tennessee Justice Center Pro Bono Attorney of the Year at the Tennessee Bar Association’s annual convention. Morgan represented TJC 2014 Mother of the Year, Evelyn Manley, in a TennCare hearing. Morgan won the hearing which allowed Manley to keep the therapy services her young son needed to help with his autism and down syndrome. On telling Manley that they won the hearing, Morgan said, “that was one of the best phone calls I have ever had to make.”
Our 2011 Honorees
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis was honored for the firm’s efforts in representing needy families in their TennCare appeals. In 2010, attorneys at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis were intensely involved in two cases in which they contributed hundreds of hours of pro bono legal services to clients of the Tennessee Justice Center. Through Waller Lansden lawyers Christopher Dunn, John Tishler, Michael Yopp, and Jason Shields’s efforts, the Worsham family home of more than 20 years was saved from foreclosure. Through Christopher Dunn and Michael Gardner’s work, Julie Williamson, a quadrepelegic TennCare enrollee in west Tennessee, stayed on the program, receiving lifesaving nursing care, when the state threatened to cut her off. A mother of three, she was able to stay at home with her family instead of facing institutionalization. Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis’s pro bono representation of these individuals during their hearings allowed low-income Tennesseans to retain the basic necessities of life.
Jeff Smith washonored for his work handling pro bono TennCare cases and setting up a partnership between his firm, TJC, and the UT-Memphis School of Law to serve the needs of low income families on TennCare. The partnership will allow many families each year, who would otherwise go unrepresented at their TennCare hearings, to have capable legal counsel. It will provide law clinic students at UT Memphis with courtroom experience. Adams and Reese has agreed to oversee the project, with technical assistance from the Tennessee Justice Center.
Our 2010 honorees
Kirkland and Ellis LLP
K&E has been involved in the John B. case since 2006. During this time, more than 48 of the firm’s attorneys have worked with TJC to represent the children enrolled in TennCare.
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
SNR also joined the John B. case in 2006. Attorneys at the firm have provided more than 6,000 hours of pro bono service to TennCare children over the past two years alone.
Our 2009 honorees
Bradley Arrant Boult Cummings
In 2008, 15 attorneys at BABC took referrals from TJC, logging almost 500 hours of pro bono services. These were attorneys from various backgrounds and legal areas of focus who dedicated themselves to ensuring that Tennessee families got the services they needed. This firm continues to lead our state in pro bono services to TennCare families.
Michael Abelow was the lead attorney on Crabtree v. Goetz, which was filed in the fall of 2008. This case sought to prevent TennCare from restricting home health care benefits on adult enrollees. These cuts affected nearly 900 of the most medically fragile adults across the state. Mr. Abelow partnered with attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and the National Health Law Program. He won a preliminary injunction for named plaintiffs that helped them keep their care until new programs began that allowed patients with extraordinary needs to access higher levels of home health care.
Pro Bono Heroes
The above honorees are only a small sample of the lawyers who help our clients. Most of our referrals are to lawyers who agree to represent a patient who has been denied services by his or her health insurance company. These attorneys have won wheelchairs, home health nurses, residential treatment, and behavioral therapies when families desperately needed them. The lack of these services can easily lead to family breakups and death. These cases aren’t flashy, but they have a profound impact on a people’s lives. To say that we are grateful to the following attorneys would be an understatement:
James W. White
Jeffrey C. Smith
Michael A. Gardner
Christopher S. Dunn
Thor Y. Urness
David K. Taylor
James B. Johnson
David P. Cañas