May is traditionally the month when new members are inducted into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame which is located at our state judicial building. The idea for a Hall of Fame first appeared in the year 2000 when Montgomery attorney Terry Brown wrote State Bar President Sam Rumore with a proposal that the former Supreme Court building, adjacent to the State Bar building and vacant at that time, should be turned into a museum memorializing the many great lawyers in the history of the State of Alabama.
The implementation of the idea of an Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame originated during the term of State Bar President Fred Gray. He appointed a task force to study the concept, set up guidelines, and then to provide a recommendation to the Board of Bar Commissioners. The committee report was approved in 2003 and the first induction took place for the year 2004.
A twelve member selection committee consisting of the immediate past-president of the Alabama State Bar, a member appointed by the Chief Justice, one member appointed by each of the three presiding Federal District Court judges of Alabama, four members appointed by the Board of Bar Commissioners, the Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Chairman of the Alabama Bench and Bar Historical Society, and the Executive Secretary of the Alabama State Bar meets annually to consider the nominees and to make selections for induction.
Inductees to the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame must have had a distinguished career in the law. This could be demonstrated through many different forms of achievement, leadership, service, mentorship, political courage, or professional success. Each inductee must have been deceased at least two years at the time of their selection. Also, for each year at least one of the inductees must have been deceased a minimum of one hundred years in order to give due recognition to historic figures as well as the more recent lawyers of the state.
The selection committee actively solicits suggestions from members of the bar and the general public for the nomination of inductees. We need nominations of historic figures as well as present-day lawyers for consideration. Great lawyers cannot be chosen if they have not been nominated. Nominations can be made throughout the year by downloading the nomination form from the Bar’s website and submitting the requested information. Plaques commemorating the inductees are located in the lower rotunda of the judicial building. And profiles of all inductees are found on the Bar’s website.