Long-time Alabama State Bar General Counsel J. Anthony “Tony” McLain died on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Tony was a member of the bar’s staff for more than 28 years and was named as general counsel in 1995. Alabama State Bar President J. Cole Portis of the Beasley Allen Law Firm had this to say:
Tony McLain was an encourager. He possessed wisdom and he was a servant leader. These three traits are vital when one holds the position of general counsel for the Alabama State Bar. I think his most important trait, though, was his ability as the prosecutor to show compassion even when discipline was being leveled against an attorney. In his role as general counsel, I am certain that Tony wasn’t beloved by every lawyer, but Tony, who was universally respected, became one of the icons in our bar.
As general counsel, Tony was responsible for overseeing the operations of the Center for Professional Responsibility, which investigates and prosecutes bar complaints, issues ethics opinions to lawyers, represents the bar in state and federal litigation and provides legal advice to the bar’s governing and policy-making body, the Board of Bar Commissioners.
“Although he served in a very tough position, enforcing the legal profession’s ethical rules, he did so with fairness, professionalism and great compassion,” said Alabama State Bar Executive Director Keith Norman. “Tony has left an indelible mark on the legal profession in Alabama and his state bar colleagues and fellow lawyers mourn his loss and will miss his wisdom and friendship.”
Tony was raised in Headland. He received his undergraduate degree from Auburn University and earned his law degree from Samford University’s Cumberland Law School. After graduating from law school, Tony served as an assistant attorney general during the administrations of Attorneys General Bill Baxley and Charlie Graddick. He then practiced law in the firm of McLain & Hampton for nine years before joining the state bar in 1988 as assistant general counsel.
Tony was widely known as an expert in legal ethics and conducted numerous continuing legal education seminars on the subject. He served as president of Cumberland’s National Alumni Association and was the recipient of the school’s distinguished alumnus award. In 2014, the bar awarded Tony with the Alabama State Bar Professionalism Award. Following the presentation, it was announced that the award would be further known as the J. Anthony “Tony” McLain Professionalism Award. Tony McLain was a good man in every sense of the word and he will be greatly missed.
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