The following is the monthly message from Tom Methvin in his capacity as State Bar President. Tom has worked extremely hard as president and has had a very good run so far. He has been able to enlist the help of lawyers throughout the state and that’s very important. Tom will serve as president through July when his successor takes over.
Law Day 2010 – “And Justice for All”
Each year on May 1st, the Alabama State Bar participates in the recognition of Law Day. This national event was created by the American Bar Association in 1958 to bring an understanding and appreciation for the law to every person. Today, Law Day activities play an important role in the educational and outreach efforts of the Alabama State Bar (ASB). This is an opportunity for us to share how the law directly affects all of us, in a positive way.
The theme for ASB’s Law Day 2010 celebration was “And Justice for All.” We chose this theme in order to emphasize the importance of Access to Justice for the poor in civil cases. Access to justice is the number one priority of our state bar this year, since Alabama is dead last in funding for this. The average state spends $4.1 million per year. Alabama spends $300,000. As a result there are a lot of hurting people without legal representation.
In keeping with this, we issued a challenge to all local bar associations to increase their participation in the Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP) during Law Day celebrations. We provided the President of each local bar with a list of participation percentages in every circuit in Alabama. Circuits that show the greatest increase in participation will be recognized at the ASB Annual Meeting in July. The underlying idea of Law Day is to make the law available and accessible to ordinary people. It is our obligation to make this possible, and the VLP helps accomplish that.
This year, we also greatly expanded our Law Day activities, with the goal of having the best Law Day celebration in the history of the ASB. Law Day activities were held in almost every judicial circuit, under the direction of local Bar associations. Our activities this year were designed to help those in need, to promote Volunteer Lawyer service, to raise public awareness of pro bono work, and create positive public relations for lawyers. We held law “help line” programs on local television and/or radio stations, free legal clinics, and a variety of contests and events at local schools.
Many local Bar associations created unique programs to recognize Law Day. For example, the Mobile Bar held a Naturalization Ceremony for America’s newest citizens, featuring a swearing-in, guest speakers and other celebrations. What a great introduction to the American legal system! In Escambia County, high school seniors participate in a program that allows them to be involved in an actual trial. In Tuscaloosa, a new “Pillars of the Bar” luncheon honors two members of the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association who have demonstrated outstanding service to the legal profession and pro bono service.
These are just a few of the many outstanding events bringing Law Day to the next level in Alabama. I’m looking forward to seeing this program continue to grow. It is my hope that Law Day will inspire young people to practice law, and encourage attorneys to share their time and talents with those less fortunate through the VLP. I also hope that through Law Day activities, the public has a better understanding of what lawyers do, and the services we render.
The Law Day Committee coordinated all the activities in our 41 judicial circuits. Ashley Swink and Holly Alves, both graduates of the ASB Leadership Forum, were selected to head the committee. They chose 12 other Leadership Forum graduates to serve on the Law Day Committee. Each committee member visited one or two judicial circuits to determine what programs were already in place, or to identify where programs were needed.
Law Day Committee members were M. Hamp Baxley, Ryan G. Brake, Valerie K. Chittom, Christy D. Crow, Anne L. Durward, Adrian D. Johnson, Tara W. Lockett, Jonathan M. Lusk, David E. Rains, Emily H. Raley, Brian P. Strength and William B. Wahlheim, Jr. The Committee also includes Young Lawyers President Liaison Robert N. Bailey, II, Local Bar Coordinator Charles R. Godwin, and ASB Staff Liaison Brad Carr. Our Bar owes them all a debt of gratitude for the great work they did in helping us celebrate and promote Law Day and “Justice for All.”
State Bar President
April 14, 2010
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