NALP Directory of Legal Employers

Directory Year: 2023

Bass, Berry & Sims PLC - Firm Wide

Pro Bono/Public Interest

View All Sections | Hide All Sections

Pro Bono Contact

Pro Bono Contact Name David Esquivel
Pro Bono Contact Title Pro Bono Committee Chair
Pro Bono Contact Phone 615-742-6285
Pro Bono Contact Email [email protected]
Is the pro bono information indicated here firm-wide or specific to one office? Firm-wide
% Firm Billable Hours last year
Average Hours per Attorney last year 38

Pro Bono Participation

Percent of associates participating last year 68%
Percent of partners participating last year 44%
Percent of other lawyers participating last year 32%

Average hours

Average hours per associate last year 61
Average hours per partner last year 19
Average hours per other lawyer last year 57
What percentage of attorneys performed more than 20 hours? 30%
What was the number of actual pro bono hours contributed by the organization in the prior calendar year? 16,029
Does the organization maintain a written pro bono policy that sets forth the organization's commitment to pro bono? Yes
How does the organization define what constitutes pro bono legal work?

Bass, Berry & Sims recognizes pro bono work as defined by Rule 6.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct: * legal services without expectation of fee to persons of limited means; * legal services without expectation of fee to non-profit organizations in matters designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; * legal services provided at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights; * legal services provided at no fee or substantially reduced fee to non-profit organizations in matters in furtherance of their purposes where payment of the standard fee would significantly deplete the organization's financial resources; * legal services provided at substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; * participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system, or the legal profession

Does the organization set annual goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed by the organization? No
Does the organization set individual attorney goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed? No


Is an attorney's commitment to pro bono activity considered a favorable factor in advancement and compensation decisions? Yes
If yes, to what extent? An attorney's involvement in pro bono activities can be an important factor in the firm's ongoing evaluation of the associate, and a willingness to serve the greater needs of the community evidences a level of maturity and professionalism that is highly valued by the firm.

Pro bono support services

Are full-time support services (word processing, online research Lexis/Westlaw, out of pocket costs) available for pro bono representation? Yes
If so, are there any limitations?

The firm provides the same quality of representation to all clients regardless of their ability to pay. Pro bono projects will be given the same staffing, attention, and resources as any other project. Attorneys should possess the knowledge and experience required for success on any project. Pro bono matters are no exception. Attorneys working on pro bono matters outside their area of expertise are expected to seek advice, training, and, if necessary, supervision from attorneys in that specialty.

Are associates provided written evaluations of their work on pro bono matters? Yes
Does the organization employ one or more of the following structures to manage its pro bono program and to provide training and guidance to participating attorneys? (Check all that apply): An attorney who coordinates pro bono projects as an ancillary duty to other work
Pro Bono Committee
How is pro bono work assigned/distributed?

Much of the pro bono work the firm receives is referred to individual attorneys by local Legal Aid organizations. Other pro bono cases and projects arise from relationships the firm and its lawyers have established with non-profit organizations such as the National Veterans Legal Services Program, Social Entrepreneurship, and domestic abuse prevention programs such as Center for Justice and Accountability. The process of, or decision for, taking on a pro bono matter is consistent with the general guidelines followed with non-pro bono matters, including approval by the New Business Intake Committee.

If an attorney is permitted to bring a pro bono case for possible consideration by the firm, who makes decisions about whether the firm will handle the matter? (check all that apply) Pro Bono Committee
Department Chair

Enabling pro bono or public interest work

Does the organization provide any of the following to enable its attorneys to participate in pro bono activities or work in a public interest setting? (Check all that apply): Externships
If so please describe

Summer associate pro bono opportunities

Are pro bono opportunities available for summer associates? Yes
Additional comments (Please use this space to provide any additional information about your organization's pro bono program including any special recognition or awards the organization has received for its pro bono work.)

Pro bono service is an essential element of every attorney’s professional responsibility. By virtue of the training and licensing they receive, attorneys have unique skills and opportunities to serve the disadvantaged and promote the public interest. The firm, therefore, encourages our attorneys to render public interest legal service. Public interest legal service is viewed by the firm as an attorneys’ duty to contribute to the welfare of the community; to assist in the development of the legal profession; and to broaden the overall commitment to access to justice for all people. Bass, Berry & Sims has always understood that supporting our local communities helps to broaden and deepen our understanding of the world around us. We expect our firm to be a good corporate citizen, and our people to be service-minded and to willingly give back to our communities and the profession. The firm has been honored on several occasions for our commitment to pro bono service. • David Esquivel was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to serve on the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission. • Jeff Gibson was named the 2017 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC). Jeff was recognized for his pro bono work on behalf of TJC clients who were denied TennCare coverage for various medical conditions. • Bass, Berry & Sims received the law firm award for its ongoing pro bono work supporting the Tennessee Justice Center at the 2018 Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala. The Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative was launched to encourage and coordinate pro bono efforts by corporate counsel in Tennessee to ensure access to justice across the state. • Several of our attorneys have received the Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award and the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award from the Tennessee Bar Association. The award recognizes private attorneys who have contributed significant amounts of pro bono work and have demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to the poor.

What are some of the areas in which your organization has performed pro bono work in the past year?
  • Criminal Legal System Reform: exonerations with Tennessee Innocence Project; challenge to ex post facto application of Sex Offender Registry classifications; bail reform with Nashville Community Bail Fund; petitions for clemency;
  • Capital Representation: challenge to lethal injection in Tennessee; representation of individual who came off death row after 34 years, challenge to condition of confinement;
  • Immigration: asylum cases for Afghans re-settled in Tennessee with Vanderbilt Immigration Clinic and for trans client referred by Immigration Equality; Cancellation of Removal for immigrants targeted in 2018 Morristown TN raids; Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors and Welcome South;
  • Access to Healthcare: Social Security Disability cessation cases with Legal Aid Society; TRO to protect women’s clinic staff and women accessing care;  support for rural hospitals
  • Economic Justice: representation of black entrepreneurs through Corner to Corner; support for Magdalene Inc./Thistle Farms providing employment and housing for women; support for Lambscoft/The Cookery, providing employment and support for formerly incarcerated individuals

Fellowship sponsorship

Does your organization sponsor split public interest summer and/or post-graduate fellowships? Yes
Public Interest Fellowship Comments

Through the Legal Aid Society at Vanderbilt Law School, the firm provides an annual stipend of $5,000 to a law student who chooses to work in a public interest job during the summer.