Nashville, Tenn., (March 29, 2011) – Bass, Berry & Sims PLC is pleased to announce that it has received the 2011 Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala Award from the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA). Bass, Berry & Sims received the award for its work on the Edward Jerome Harbison clemency petition and for their commitment to providing free legal services to the low income.
Keith Simmons, managing partner of Bass, Berry & Sims, along with firm partner Brant Phillips and associates Wendee Hilderbrand, and Allyn Gibson, led the clemency petition on Harbison’s behalf from 2008 to 2011. In January, the firm was notified that then Tennessee Governor Philip Bredesen would commute Harbison’s sentence to life without parole.
For three years, members of the firm invested more than 2,500 hours and traveled hundreds of miles across the state interviewing witnesses and reviewing long-forgotten court records. The firm was able to show that Harbison’s death sentence was the result of ineffective counsel and was disproportionate to the punishment passed on to others who committed similar crimes in the state. The clemency petition came after serving 27 years on death row, just one month prior to his scheduled execution.
“Bass, Berry & Sims is deeply honored to receive such a respected and meaningful award from our friends and colleagues in the Tennessee legal community,” said Simmons. “The award represents their recognition of how important it is for lawyers to commit themselves to challenging, often difficult legal and human situations.”
The firm was also recognized for producing an advanced directives clinic in Memphis with AutoZone and Memphis Area Legal Services. The clinic provided residents of low income areas of Memphis with free legal advice; including specific instructions for future medical care should a person become unable to articulate their desires in the future.
The Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative was launched in 2006 by the TBA Access to Justice Committee, the TBA Corporate Counsel Section, and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) as a way to help coordinate statewide pro bono initiatives and ensure that the legal system effectively and fairly serves all citizens.
Over the span of four years, the Initiative has raised over $200,000 for educational events to advise in-house counsel and law firms on how they can get more closely involved in pro bono initiatives as well as directly support pro bono project grants across the state.
Attorneys at Bass, Berry & Sims have provided pro bono legal services for several local and regional organizations including the Legal Aid Society, National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), KIPP Academy Nashville, Center for Justice and Accountability, and the Forrest City Junior Auxiliary, Inc., as well as many deserving individuals who cannot afford legal counsel.
Bass, Berry & Sims has received numerous accolades over the years for the quality of the firm’s practices and client service. In 2010, the firm was named as one of a select few “standout” law firms for high-stakes securities litigation matters in BTI Consulting Group’s Litigation Outlook 2011 report. Additionally, the firm also received top recognitions from Chambers USA and The Best Lawyers in America® .
About Bass, Berry & Sims PLC
With more than 200 attorneys representing numerous publicly traded companies and Fortune 500 businesses, Bass, Berry & Sims has been involved in some of the largest and most significant litigation matters and business transactions in the country. Bass, Berry & Sims has office in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville, Tennessee. For more information, visit www.bassberry.com.