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Alabama State Bar Inducts New Members to Lawyers' Hall of Fame


Alabama State Bar Inducts New Members to Lawyers’ Hall of Fame

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State Bar on Friday inducted five new members into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame.

“Each of these inductees has played a pivotal role in the history and legacy that we as attorneys leave behind,” said Alabama State Bar President Lee H. Copeland of Copeland, Franco, Screws & Gill, P.A. (Montgomery). “It’s an honor to pay tribute to their lives and the work they did.”

The five lawyers inducted into the 2015 Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame include:

  • Abe Berkowitz (1907-1985) – Respected lawyer; longtime trustee of the Birmingham Bar Aid Trust; outspoken opponent for equity and fairness under the law; courageously challenged the Klan and other segregationists in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Era; played a significant role in changing Birmingham’s municipal government by forming the Citizens for Progress Committee that ousted Bull Connor and other segregationist city leaders.
  • Reuben Chapman (1799-1882) – Lawyer who practiced in the state’s early years; elected to state senate (1832-1835), Congress (1835-1847) and as 13th Governor (1847-1849); successfully remedied state’s financial problems during his term as Governor that were compounded by the failure of the state bank; in later years returned to the state legislature (1855- 1856) and was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1856, 1860 and 1868 but was unsuccessful in his efforts to reconcile the deep split in the northern and southern delegates to those conventions.
  • Martin Leigh Harrison (1907-1997) – Practiced law in Birmingham until 1934 before obtaining an LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1935. He then pursued an academic career; became a law professor at SMU and law professor (1938-1977) and dean (1950-1966) at his alma mater, The University of Alabama School of Law; as dean he enlarged and strengthened the faculty and continued to develop the law library; organized the law school alumni association and the law school foundation; left an enduring mark as a teacher of the law.
  • Holland McTyeire Smith (1882-1967) – Lawyer, soldier, patriot; known as “the father of modern U.S. amphibious warfare;” one of the top commanders in the Pacific during WWII; practiced law in Montgomery before receiving his appointment as 2d lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps; served in France in WWI; during WWII led Marines to victories with island-hopping strategy across the Pacific; led V Amphibious Corps and later named as First Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific, at Pearl Harbor; planned the Gilberts and Marshall Island operations and commanded Task Force 56 during the invasion of Iwo Jima before returning to the United States in July 1945 to head the Marine Training and Replacement Command at Camp Pendleton, California; retired as a General Officer of U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Frank Edward Spain (1891-1986) – Lawyer, philanthropist, civic leader and humanitarian; held the personal philosophy that lawyers have an obligation to do good as well as perform well for their clients; incorporated the Birmingham Housing Authority to assist local citizens in need of housing; active volunteer in numerous charities and causes as well as provided gifts that created Spain Rehabilitation Center and funded medical, scouting and religious facilities throughout the greater Birmingham area; was the first Alabamian to serve as president of Rotary International.

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.