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MONTGOMERY, July 14, 2003 – Another historic event in Alabama's legal history is set to occur as the Alabama State Bar's first African American president concludes his year of service at the bar's annual meeting July 16-19 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Mobile. Fred D. Gray, internationally known Tuskegee civil rights attorney, will preside over this year's meeting that reflects his yearlong theme of "Lawyers Render Service". Dennis W. Archer, president-elect of the American Bar Association will speak to the Bench and Bar Luncheon on Thursday. Archer will become the first African American to lead the ABA. A reception in Gray's honor is scheduled for Friday evening and he will pass the gavel to the new state bar president, Birmingham attorney William N. Clark, at Saturday morning's Grand Convocation.

Keith Norman, executive director of the Alabama State Bar, calls Gray one of Alabama's premier lawyers and "the ultimate professional, who believes in service to his clients and to the profession. We are honored by his service to the bar this year."

This year's annual meeting program will also feature nationally known speakers. Rob Sherman, author and lawyer, will conduct an all-day Continuing Legal Education program on Wednesday. James W. McElhaney, professor, noted trial advocacy lecturer and legal columnist, speaks at Friday's opening plenary and Habitat for Humanity founder, Millard Fuller, is featured on Saturday morning. Over 400 Alabama lawyers and their families are expected to attend.