MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State Bar on Friday inducted five new members into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.
“The attorneys inducted into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame today spent their lives dedicated to improving the lives of others and the legal profession,” said Alabama State Bar President J. Cole Portis of the Beasley Allen Law Firm (Montgomery). “It’s a privilege to participate in the Hall of Fame program and to honor these outstanding lawyers for their commitment and service to our state, local communities and our nation. This program and its purpose are at the heart of the bar’s motto: Lawyers Render Service.”
The five lawyers inducted into the 2016 Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame include:
- William B. Bankhead (1874-1940) – Member of one of Alabama’s most prominent political families and arguably the state’s most important political figure during the first half of the 20th century; practiced law in Jasper and served two years in the Alabama Legislature prior to his election to Congress in 1916; served 24 years in the House of Representatives until his death; a Roosevelt loyalist who took an active role in helping pass New Deal legislation; elected House majority leader in 1935 and speaker of the House in 1936, a position he held until his death; father of early star of stage and screen, Tallulah Bankhead.
- Lister Hill (1894-1984) – Considered Alabama’s premier lawmaker of the 20th century; practiced law in his hometown of Montgomery following his return from World War I; served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1923-1938) and U.S. Senate (1938-1968); was an active New Dealer in his early career; sponsored 80 pieces of major legislation during his 45 years in Congress including the Hill-Burton Act (1941), the Library Services Act (1956) and the Defense Education Act (1958); leading proponent for federal funding of medical research as well as major advocate for spreading medical knowledge worldwide by helping create the National Institute of International Medical Research (1959).
- John Thomas King (1923-2007) – Received his undergraduate and law degrees from The University of Alabama; served the U.S. Army in the Pacific theater during World War II, achieving the rank of major; practiced law in Birmingham and served a term in the Alabama Senate where he sponsored major legislation that included the New Judicial Article; a progressive whose two mayoral campaigns during the racial turmoil of the early ’60s would help serve as a catalyst to change Birmingham’s repressive commission form of government to the more representative mayor-council form of government.
- Russell McElroy (1901-1994) – Practiced law briefly before appointment at age 25 as Birmingham circuit judge; served continuously as circuit judge for 50 years (1927-1977) until his retirement from the bench and recognition as the Most Durable Judge by the Guinness Book of World Records for his long tenure; authored The Law of Evidence in Alabama, the most widely used and regularly cited legal treatise in Alabama practice; taught law school and served on the board of numerous community organizations.
- George Washington Stone (1811-1894) – Practiced law for 32 years in Talladega County, Lowndes County and Montgomery with a reputation as a lawyer “who observed the most upright and correct rules of conduct;” served as a circuit judge in Montgomery before becoming an associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (1856-1865, 1874-1884) and later chief justice (1884-1894); responsible for helping shape post-Civil War common law of the state by writing a total of 2,449 opinions as a member of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2004, and has since inducted 55 Alabama lawyers including this year’s inductees. Inductees must have a distinguished career in law and each inductee must be deceased at least two years at the time of their selection. In addition, at least one of the inductees must be deceased a minimum of 100 years.
The newly unveiled plaques honoring each inductee are up for display in the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame located on the lower level of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building.
More information on each inductee can be found here.