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State Bar Selects 30 Lawyers to Participate in
Annual Leadership Forum; To Be Trained As Future Leaders

Brad Carr
Alabama State Bar
Public Information Officer
(334) 517-2128 or
(334) 782-2781
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Montgomery, Ala., January 5, 2009 – Recognizing that young attorneys have a vital stake in the future of the state’s communities, both as policymakers and in their profession, the Alabama State Bar has announced the 30 lawyers selected for Class V of its Leadership Forum.

State Bar President J. Mark White of Birmingham (White Arnold & Dowd P.C.) said, “In addition to developing new leaders, the program will share ways participants can implement those skills to better support their communities and the profession, encourage diversity in the practice of law and discuss ethical issues.”

This year, the state bar received 75 applications from private practitioners, government and corporate lawyers throughout the state. These applicants included practitioners in small, medium and large-size firms as well as sole practitioners.

After a rigorous selection process, 19 men and 11 women were selected for Class V. While there is no age requirement, participants must have practiced law for not less than five nor more than 15 years.

Leadership Forum participants are selected based on their demonstration of outstanding leadership qualities and service to their communities. White noted that  lawyers naturally gravitate toward positions of leadership because those positions call into play their creativity and critical thinking skills. "Leaders need to have good problem-solving skills and be able to think critically. As opposed to the traditional law practice setting, which fosters competition, leadership is a collaborative process," he said.

In order to graduate from the Leadership Forum, forum participants are required to attend five separate training sessions including a two-day orientation program. They will spend approximately 60 hours in meetings and workshops learning from such prominent leaders as:

  • Governor Bob Riley;
  • Chancellor Bradley Byrne;
  • Dr. Wayne Flint, Auburn University;
  • Former Governor Albert Brewer;
  • Morris Dees, co-founder, Southern Poverty Law Center;
  • Stephen F. Black, Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility: and,
  • Former graduates of Leadership Forum classes I-IV

Birmingham attorneys Kimberly Till Powell (Balch & Bingham , L.L.P.) and Samuel David Knight (Gordon, Dana, Still, Knight & Gilmore) chaired this year's Leadership Forum Planning Committee.

The 16,000-member Alabama State Bar is dedicated to promoting the professional responsibility, competence and satisfaction of its members; improving the administration of justice, and, increasing public understanding and respect for the law.


Sam David Knight, Edward M. Patterson, Matt Minner

Sam David Knight, Edward M. Patterson, Matt Minner

Alabama State Bar
Board of Bar Commissioners' Meeting
December 5, 2008

Thirty Members of the Leadership Forum Class of 2009 are as follows:

Mr. Joel Chandler Bailey, II Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC Birmingham
Mrs. Maricia Danielle Bennekin-Woodham Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Birmingham
Mr. James Eric Brisendine Scruggs, Dodd & Dodd, P.A. Fort Payne
Mr. Jimmy Spurlock Calton, Jr. Calton & Calton Eufaula
Mr. Paul Anthony Clark Balch & Bingham, LLP Montgomery
Mrs. Lisa Darnley Cooper Hand, Arendall, LLC Mobile
Mr. John Gibbs Dana Gordon, Dana, Still, Knight & Gilmore, LLC Birmingham
Mrs. Geraldine Rose Daniels Social Security Administration Montgomery
Mr. Brandon Kent Falls Jefferson County District Attorney's Office Birmingham
Mr. Patrick Conor Finnegan Helmsing, Leach, Herlong, Newman & Rouse, PC Mobile
Mr. Michael Aaron Fritz, Sr. US Bankruptcy Administration Montgomery
Mr. Richard Mark Gaal  McDowell, Knight, Roedder & Sledge, LLC Mobile
Mr. Christopher Dean Glover Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles Montgomery
Mr. Othni James Lathram Alabama Law Institute Tuscaloosa
Ms. Lauryn Akens Lauderdale Lauderdale & Lauderdale, P.C. Opelika
Ms. Erin Elizabeth May Infinity Insurance Company Birmingham
Miss Lara Lynn McCauley N. Barry Alvis and Associates, LLC Birmingham
Mr. Douglas Scott Mitchell Supreme Court of Alabama for Hon. S.B. Cobb Montgomery
Mr. Christopher Allan Mixon Ogletree Deakins Birmingham
Ms. Emily Kay Niezer Knight, Griffith, McKenzie, Knight & McLeroy Cullman
Mr. Bentley Hines Patrick Cincinnati Insurance Company Birmingham
Mrs. Valerie Hose Plante Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C. Huntsville
Mr. Robert Emmett Poundstone, IV Bradley Arant Rose & White LLP Montgomery
Ms. Emily Hawk Raley Cusimano, Keenan, Roberts, Knowles & Raley, P.C. Gadsden
Mrs. Erica Lynn Sheffield Honda Manufacturing of Alabama Lincoln
Mrs. Audrey L. Oswalt Strawbridge Strawbridge, Strawbridge & Strawbridge, LLC Vernon
Mr. Brian Paul Strength Attorney At Law Tuskegee
Mr. James Robert Turnipseed Burr & Forman, LLP Mobile
Mr. Robert Hays Webb Turner, Webb & Roberts, P.C. Tuscaloosa
Hon. Chad Edward Woodruff  Attorney At Law Talladega