Our Work for Social Justice

The types of matters our attorneys handle and the organizations we partner with reflect the firm’s commitment to social justice. With emphasis on work that impacts systemic issues, we undertake pro bono matters that strengthen familiesempower communities, and protect civil rights. In 2020, the firm’s pro bono work in response to the COVID-19 crisis ranged from representation of an international nonprofit promoting development of vaccines to individual representation of families faced with eviction, homelessness, and domestic violence.

Our work to fight racial injustice includes advocacy for the Nashville Community Bail Fund  challenging unconstitutional bail policies and work with the Tennessee Innocence Project to fight for innocent individuals wrongfully convicted. We are committed to remedy the systemic economic inequalities that impact marginalized communities, working with graduates of Corner to Corner/The Academy in Nashville and Advance Memphis/LAUNCH in Memphis, programs that empower Black micro-entrepreneurs to develop and sustain their own businesses.

Strengthen Families, Empower Communities, Protect Civil Rights

Strengthen Families

  • Partnering with the Community Legal CenterVanderbilt Law SchoolTennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and Immigration Equality to represent individuals in immigration claims, including asylum cases for LGBTQ refugees, cancellation of removal cases, and petitions for U.S. citizenship.
  • Preserving income for families by representing disabled adults and children in administrative law appeals of Supplemental Security Insurance benefit terminations with referrals and support from the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee.
  • Securing healthcare for low income clients denied eligibility or services by TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid program) by representing individuals in contested administrative proceedings and providing support for federal court litigation in partnership with Tennessee Justice Center.
  • Providing stability for families across Tennessee by filing adoption petitions in state courts for adoptive parents where the biological parents are absent, and resolving family conflict through parenting plan mediation with the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center.
  • Securing safety for victims of domestic violence through orders of protection secured in state court in partnership with Nashville’s Office of Family Safety.
  • Supporting claims for veterans denied medical and retirement benefits who are referred through the National Veterans Legal Services Program.

Empower Communities

  • Representing two nonprofits working internationally to develop a COVID 19 vaccine, advising on corporate, tax, and legal issues surrounding human challenge trials to help create equitable access policy for vaccine candidates.
  • Supporting nonprofits to develop housing and combat homelessness, including representation of Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. in Memphis to acquire blighted properties, representing Room In The Inn in Nashville in a complex land purchase to expand services, and advising Men of Valor in the financing and construction of housing for men released from prison.
  • Representing Invisible Histories Project to secure legal rights to archives and materials, supporting the preservation and collection of the history of the diverse Queer community in the Southeastern United States and education about the history of the Queer South.
  • Supporting Youth About Business, a nonprofit that conducts a summer business camp for high school students.
  • Advising a network of nonprofit charter schools in Nashville on employment and contracting issues.
  • Expanding legal help to rural areas by answering online legal questions through Tennessee Free Legal Answers, with firm attorneys meeting at lunch through the year and supervising up to 30 law students in answering questions at the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Virtual Legal Assistance Clinic.
  • Participating in legal advice clinics with our clients International Paper and AutoZone, where we provide legal advice and limited representation in partnership with Memphis Area Legal Services.

Protect Civil Rights

  • Working with the Institute for American Police Reform to survey and analyze application of qualified immunity standards nationally across federal and state courts.
  • Representing the Nashville Community Bail Fund, a revolving loan fund that frees people awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges who cannot afford bond.
  • Challenging in federal and state courts the constitutionality of life sentences imposed on juveniles.
  • Representing innocent individuals wrongfully convicted in federal habeas corpus actions and state post-conviction proceedings in partnership with Tennessee Innocence Project and in-house lawyers at our client, Envision Healthcare.
  • Litigating Section 1983 cases in federal court, through appointment by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee or as co-counsel with the ACLU of Tennessee, to recover damages and seek injunctive relief to remedy the violation of individuals’ constitutional rights.
  • Working with Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative (THEI) to provide representation for students before the Parole Board and to research the policies and practices of the Parole Board and licensing boards in Tennessee to develop guidance for THEI’s students.

BBS Pro Bono Fellows

As part of its longstanding commitment to pro bono, the firm established a Pro Bono Fellowship program in April 2019, which allows attorneys to spend up to six months serving full-time in a pro bono capacity within the community. To date, the firm has sponsored a Fellow in Nashville with Choosing Justice Initiative, a Fellow in Memphis with Tennessee Innocence Project, and a Fellow in Nashville with the Davidson County General Sessions Court. Read more about our Fellows program here.

Pro Bono Internship Program

Integral to the firm’s commitment to Empower Community is support for legal education. In 2020, the firm formalized this commitment with the Pro Bono Internship Program. In coordination with law schools, this program offers placements to law students to work with our attorneys on pro bono projects. These unpaid internships are designed to meet the requirements of the law school for academic credit or for credit toward graduation requirements.

Click below to read more about how our attorneys are impacting our communities.

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