Pro Bono

Discover new information and volunteer opportunities within our pro bono program.

Pro Bono 2022

As the year begins, Bass, Berry & Sims celebrates our commitment to pursuing systemic change to address inequality, working with community and client partners to strengthen families, empower communities and protect civil rights. Our work with client in-house legal teams in 2021 included participation in the newly launched International Paper Signature Pro Bono Initiative, supporting Just City’s clients to obtain expungements, and removing barriers to housing and employment. The firm’s work to protect civil rights received national attention in October 2021 when Greg Lance – our client with co-counsel Tennessee Innocence Project and attorneys from Envision Healthcare – was featured on the Sundance Channel’s True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here.

The firm’s pro bono program continues to evolve, with new and expanded pro bono projects on tap for 2022. We invite interested alumni to collaborate with us on these efforts. Some of the projects include: representing Afghan nationals resettled in Tennessee to obtain asylum; helping immigrant children to obtain permanent residency status; supporting Just City’s clients seeking expungements; working to protect civil rights with matters addressing bail reform, sentencing reform and addressing wrongful conviction and exoneration of innocent persons through the Tennessee Innocence Project.

As we expand on our success, we’d like to invite interested alumni to join these efforts. If you would like to get involved, please register here to receive information about Bass, Berry & Sims’ pro bono opportunities. You can read about our work for social justice, and you can follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to learn more.

Featured Volunteer Opportunities

Discover pro bono opportunities in your community.

Special Juvenile Immigration Status CLE

Allison Acker will provide a CLE from 12 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. on February 23 focused on establishing residency status and a path to citizenship for immigrant children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. To join us in person or by Zoom, or for info about working with us on this project, contact Lucinda Smith.

Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP)

On February 7 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. TIP will present a free CLE. TIP staff will present an overview of their work investigating and litigating claims of innocence and the role of pro bono lawyers in this effort. To join us in person or by Zoom, or for info about working with us on this project, contact Lucinda Smith.

Tennessee Justice For Our Neighbors (TJFON)

Bass, Berry & Sims is joining with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors and Vanderbilt Law School Immigration Clinic to represent Afghan nationals resettled in Tennessee obtain asylum.   Attorneys will work in teams and referrals will start in mid-February. To work with us on this project or more information and links to training, contact Lucinda Smith.

Signature Pro Bono Initiative

Bass, Berry & Sims is working with International Paper and Just City in Memphis to provide pro bono representation for the expungement of criminal records, voting rights restoration, and driver’s license reinstatements. This work to remove barriers adjacent to criminal convictions is a meaningful addition to our work for criminal justice reform. It is open to all lawyers. If you would like more information or are interested in getting involved with us, contact Lucinda Smith.

Law Firm Antiracism Alliance

Support research on racial injustice and criminal justice reform.

Bass, Berry & Sims has joined with more than 250 firms across the world to form the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance. Its mandate is to “leverage the resources of the private bar to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color and to promote racial equity in the law and in government institutions.” Our lawyers are working to develop research and policies addressing wrongful convictions, sentencing reform and bail reform.

For more information or to join with us, contact David Esquivel.

Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative

Bass, Berry & Sims partners with Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative (THEI), an organization that brings degree-bearing college programs to prisons in Tennessee. Attorneys at Bass, Berry & Sims have undertaken foundational research for THEI and provided representation to individuals in obtaining parole. For 2022, the firm is developing training for attorneys to represent individuals at parole hearings and to provide education to individuals for self-help. For more information, contact Lucinda Smith.

Tennessee Free Legal Answers

If you are licensed in Tennessee, you can go online anytime to provide pro bono help to Tennesseans who cannot access help. Resources are linked to the website and CLE credit is provided. Click here for more information or to register to start providing help.

Welcome South

Welcome South is a coalition of nonprofit legal service providers working across Tennessee to provide representation to individuals across multiple immigration issues. They use an online platform for referrals, communication and support for pro bono counsel. For more information about volunteering, contact Welcome South here. To work collaboratively with Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys on immigration matters for Welcome South, contact Lucinda Smith.

East Tennessee

LAET – Phone Clinic

Interested in providing telephone advice on your own time? Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) needs attorneys to staff rotating phone clinics: you pick a day and time period when you can call screened clients for a 30-minute phone advice session. For example, one volunteer calls five clients on the third Tuesday of the month and another calls clients on the first Monday every other month. Contact Caitlin Torney for more information or to volunteer.

LAET – Veterans Advice Clinic

LAET offers a monthly Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic the second Wednesday of every month (excluding January). The clinic is held at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office from 12:00- 2:00 p.m. Click here to volunteer or call (865) 637-0484.

LAET – Debt Relief Clinic

LAET will also offer a quarterly Debt Relief Clinic in 2022. The dates for this year are: February 26, June 25, September 10, and November 19. The clinics will be held at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office. Participating attorneys arrive at 9:30 a.m. Contact Caitlin Torney for more information or to volunteer.

As clinic dates are added, an updated calendar of pro bono opportunities offered by LAET is available on their website under the Pro Bono Matters heading, and includes a list of cases by legal problem and by county.

Middle Tennessee

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) 

LAS hosts legal advice clinics in person and by phone each month as follows:

McHugh Legal Clinic
Second Saturday
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
2005 12th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37204

Greenhouse Ministries Clinic
Second Thursday
3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
309 South Spring Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

Belmont Clinic
Fourth Saturday
8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
2005 12th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37204

Operation Stand Down Clinic
Every Wednesday
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
1125 12th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37203

LAS hosts telephone advice clinics every Tuesday starting at 2:00 p.m. CT. To volunteer or for more information contact Kendra Cheek.

You can identify individuals who need help in Middle Tennessee at Pro Bono Matters, a list describing cases by legal problem and by county. For more information, contact Trent R. Craig.

West Tennessee

MALS – Memphis Area Legal Services

MALS expects to start scheduling its legal clinics in person again in 2022. No dates are available yet but should include:

Memphis Area Legal Services 
Monthly Saturday Clinics
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CT
Benjamin Hooks Main Library
3030 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111
Please click here to see dates and information.

Memphis Area Legal Services
Bi-Monthly Saturday Clinics
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT
First Presbyterian Church
403 S. Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Please click here to see dates and information.

Pro Bono News

Firm News | May 24, 2023
Overturned After 24 Years: Team from Tennessee Innocence Project and Bass, Berry & Sims Secures Release of Wrongfully Convicted Man

Firm News | May 4, 2023
Pro Bono Attorneys Outline Challenge to Tennessee’s Lethal Injection Protocol

Firm News | November 22, 2022
Tennessee Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory 51-Year Prison Sentences for Children

Firm News | October 31, 2022
Firm and Attorney David Esquivel Recognized by TIP for Pro Bono Contributions

Firm News | September 8, 2022
Bass, Berry & Sims and GSRM Law Partner with Nashville State Community College Foundation to Provide Pro Bono Legal Clinics for Students

Firm News | July 21, 2022
AutoZone, Bass, Berry & Sims and Memphis Area Legal Services Successfully Resume “Give a Little, Help a Lot” Legal Aid Clinic with 12th Annual Event

Firm News | February 15, 2022
Bass, Berry & Sims Attorney Ashleigh Karnell to Serve as Next Pro Bono Fellow at Tennessee Innocence Project

Firm News | October 27, 2021
Bass, Berry & Sims to Receive 2021 Champion of Justice Pro Bono Award from MBA

Firm News | October 22, 2021
Tennessee Supreme Court Recognizes Bass, Berry & Sims’ Memphis Office for Pro Bono Work

Firm News | October 1, 2021
Bass, Berry & Sims Pro Bono Client Featured on SundanceTV’s “True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here”

Firm News | July 14, 2021
Music City Community Court’s Work During Pandemic Recognized with National Access to Justice Award

Firm News | May 20, 2021
Bass, Berry & Sims Joins International Paper Signature Pro Bono Initiative

Firm News | March 15, 2021
Angie Bergman Discusses Bail Reform Issues in Tennessee

Firm News | February 24, 2021
David Esquivel Discusses Case Before Tennessee Supreme Court Challenging Mandatory Juvenile Sentencing Law

Firm News | February 19, 2021
Pro Bono Team Helps Form Mosaic Changemakers

Firm News | December 10, 2020
Nashville Community Bail Fund Wins Federal Suit

Firm News | September 1, 2020
David Esquivel Discusses Firm Response to COVID-19 and Tidal Wave of Eviction Filings

Firm News | August 31, 2020
Marc Tahiry Appointed Law Clerk to Provide Court Pro Bono Counsel for Heightened Eviction Filings in Nashville

Firm News | June 25, 2020
Bass, Berry & Sims Joins the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance

Firm News | June 10, 2020
David Esquivel Presents Oral Argument in Death Penalty Resentencing Based on Claims of Racism in Jury Selection