June 2012

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Jennifer Keller is a lawyer with a full plate. Her labor and employment practice keeps her on the move, providing advice and training to clients as well as handling employment litigation. She also chairs Baker Donelson’s Labor and Employment Department, providing leadership for more than 75 attorneys in her department across the Firm’s many offices. Amazingly, Jennifer also finds time to be a leader when it comes to pro bono. (more…)

In cities and counties throughout the Southeastern United States, courts that hear traffic and misdemeanor cases are under pressure to be generators of revenue. With tax revenue decreasing and zero political will to increase tax rates, governments increasingly look to the fines imposed on petty offenders to bring much needed dollars into their coffers.  Unfortunately, many of these courts are in such a hurry to impose fines and court costs that they don’t take the extremely important first step of determining whether the defendants standing before them have the ability to pay. (more…)

Sheryl Bey is no shrinking violet. She has risen to the top in her legal community through perseverance, determination, impressive skills as a litigator, and a heck of a lot of hard work. And she has the resume to prove it – just about every list of great lawyers in Mississippi, or in the Southeast, has Sheryl’s name featured prominently. Those same attributes have served Sheryl well in her pro bono work. She puts them to use fighting the death penalty – a worthy battle that is often lonely and arduous. (more…)

Two articles in the New York Times over the past couple of days provided me a reminder about the significant links between poverty and education inequality in this country. Yesterday’s paper reported on the publication of a number of annual lists of the best high schools in the nation. While the lists use a variety of different formulas to arrive at what they deem the best schools, a couple of factors that are not directly considered turn out to be the recurring themes. Schools that top the lists are either located in affluent areas, are highly selective charter schools that only admit students who are already high performing middle schoolers, or both. These schools don’t have subsidized lunches – they don’t need them. As the NYT story notes, “clearly, best schools would do best not to get bogged down serving students considered unbest.” (more…)