- Award named in honor of Judge W. Harold Albritton, III
Montgomery, Alabama, September 19, 2011 – The Alabama State Bar has created a new award, named for Judge W. Harold Albritton, III which recognizes an individual for leadership in making free civil legal services available to the poor and disadvantaged.
State Bar President James R. Pratt, III, of Birmingham (Hare Wynn Newell & Newton LLP) said, “Judge Harold Albritton has demonstrated a selfless commitment to increasing access to justice for Alabamians. While Alabama’s legal profession has a long and distinguished tradition of rendering service to the less fortunate, this award celebrates a remarkable individual. His extraordinary work provides us with inspiring examples of what is possible and helps to raise public awareness of the importance of access to justice for all, not just for those who can afford it.”
Pratt said Albritton will be the first recipient of the award to be presented during the
week-long observance of the state bar’s national Bono Week Celebration, October 23-29.
Judge Albritton was president of the state bar (1990-91) and the driving force behind the creation of the Volunteer Lawyers Program. Today, 25% of the lawyers practicing in Alabama are members of the program and it was this group that provided free legal advice and counsel to the survivors of the April 27 tornado outbreak.
Judge Albritton is a senior judge with the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama, in
Montgomery. He earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama. After serving in the Army, he practiced with the Andalusia firm founded by his great-grandfather in 1887. He was appointed a U.S. District Judge by President George Bush in 1991 and became chief judge in 1998. He served in that position until taking senior status in 2005.
In 1991, during testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on Appointment to the Federal Judiciary, he was asked to tell the committee what advice he would give young attorneys concerning their responsibility in providing pro bono legal service. He replied: “I would tell them and have told them that the delivery of pro bono services to the poor is the highest calling of the lawyer, is something that should not be done grudgingly, but should be embraced willingly. At the risk of some people thinking that this might sound overly sentimental, I would say to them that they will never receive a fee during their entire career that will make them feel more pride in being a lawyer than they will by the grateful tears on the cheek of someone who cannot afford legal services benefiting from their help.”
In the future, award nominations will be reviewed by the bar’s Pro Bono and Public Service Committee which will then recommend a recipient to the ASB’s governing and decision-making body, the Board of Bar Commissioners. The Board will approve the recommendation. Although nominations will be accepted annually, it is not expected the award will be presented each year.
The 16,600-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.