Montgomery, Alabama, July 18, 2013 – At the Alabama State Bar’s 2013 Annual Meeting, held this week in Point Clear, awards honoring members of the legal profession were presented to:
Judicial Award of Merit — Hon. Eugene R. Verin, senior circuit judge, 10th judicial circuit (Bessemer Division)
Judge Verin was Bessemer's first African-American municipal judge, a part-time position he held for 11 years while continuing his litigation practice as a solo practitioner; he was elected to a full six-year term as a circuit judge in 1998. He currently serves as the executive director of the Birmingham Bar Association New Lawyer Mentoring Program that assists lawyers entering into law practice by emphasizing proper ethical and professional conduct.
Award of Merit — James R. Pratt, III, Hare Wynn Newell & Newton LLP, Birmingham Pratt is a past president of the state bar and is most notably identified with creating a novel, bi-partisan plan for the state bar called the "Panel of Neutrals." The panel was created to assist the legislature in seeking consensus, in working through discord and in resolving barriers to progress. Panel members do not seek to advance any piece of legislation. As a result of this effort, the state bar enjoys a revitalized relationship with the legislature and the business community.
William D. “Bill” Scruggs, Jr., Award — David M. Wooldridge, Sirote & Permutt PC, Birmingham
Wooldridge’s service to the bar has been marked by compassion and support to the recovering community. He served as a board member of the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Foundation since its inception in 2000 and also was chair and board member of the Lawyer Assistance Program. He has written and lectured extensively about dependency problems affecting lawyers and law students.
Maud McLure Kelly Award (She was the first woman to be admitted to the practice of law in Alabama) — Mary Lee Stapp
Stapp was chief legal advisor to the Alabama Department of Human Resources and is a nationally-known advocate for children’s rights.
During her tenure as an assistant attorney general, Stapp argued a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court, King v. Smith, whichwas the first welfare case to reach the court and was one of several cases in the late 1960s and early 1970s to establish new rights for welfare recipients in the U.S.
Pro Bono Awards:
Al Vreeland Award — Royal C. Dumas, Hill Hill Carter Franco Cole & Black PC, Montgomery
Through his work with the Montgomery County Bar Association Legal Clinic, Dumas represented clients in 12 cases providing counsel to the poor and disadvantaged who sought assistance through the clinic. One complicated pro bono case requiring litigation involved residents of an extended-stay motel who were being evicted and would have become homeless.
Firm/Group Award — Warren & Simpson PC, Huntsville
Law firm partners Derek Simpson and J. Barton Warren have helped the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program raise more than $20,000 to support pro bono projects. At a time when funds from many other sources continue to decline, the firm’s commitment to legal aid is critical to providing continued access to justice in Huntsville.
Law Student Award — Virginia Lemon, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Montgomery
Lemon is a recent graduate who led the Jones Public Interest Law Foundation as its student-president. The JPILF works to raise money for stipends to support students with unpaid summer jobs in public interest and public service law offices as preparation for careers of service. She logged nearly 400 hours in the public interest law program and was recognized for her efforts with Faulkner Law’s 2012-2013 Distinguished Public Interest Award.
Mediation Award — Jefferson County District Court Mediation Program
Providing effective conflict resolution delivered by qualified, dedicated volunteers, this is one of the longest running volunteer mediation programs in the state. The program handles pro bono mediation services for pro se parties on the small claims docket. Last year, more than 200 cases were mediated and 160 settlements made.
The 17,300-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.