Lawyers Honor Pro Bono Work at State Bar of Georgia Awards Reception

This press release was originally published by the State Bar of Georgia.

The State Bar of Georgia honored five advocates at its annual pro bono awards reception held Oct. 15 at the State Bar headquarters in Atlanta.

The ceremony was hosted by the Bar’s Access to Justice Committee and the Pro Bono Project. State Bar president Robert Kauffman welcomed guests and thanked the awards recipients for their professionalism and their service to low-income Georgians.

“All Georgia lawyers can draw inspiration from the exceptional records of pro bono service rendered by these honorees,” Kauffman said. “We appreciate their many contributions, which serve to promote the cause of justice and uphold the integrity of the legal profession in our state.”

Access to Justice Committee Vice Chairperson Angela Hinton and State Bar Pro Bono Director Mike Monahan presented the awards.

“When you hear the stories about the work of our award winners tonight, we hope you take them to heart and that you share them with others in your community,” Hinton noted in her remarks. “To our award winners tonight, we say ‘thank you,’ and we are honored to have you with us.” Savannah lawyer Elsie “Dolly” Robinson Chisholm was presented the H. Sol Clark Award for her lengthy pro bono service record and for her role in the Georgia Legal Services Program Foundation. Her law firm, Bouhan Falligant LLP, received praise for its support of Chisholm’s work and for its pro bono service in the Savannah community. The award is named for former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge H. Sol Clark of Savannah, who is known as the “father of legal aid in Georgia.” The prestigious award honors an individual lawyer who has excelled in one or more of a variety of activities that extend civil legal services to the poor.

Alpharetta lawyer Jay Fox received the William B. Spann Jr. Award for his pro bono involvement in Atlanta Legal Aid’s Durable Powers of Attorney Project of the Georgia Senior Legal Hotline. The Spann Award is given to a local bar association, law firm, or community organization in Georgia that has developed a civil pro bono program that has satisfied previously unmet legal needs or extended services to underserved segments of the population. The award is named for a former president of the American Bar Association and former executive director of the State Bar of Georgia.

The Bar presented Ira Foster, managing attorney of the Macon Regional Office of Georgia Legal Services Program Inc., with the Dan Bradley Legal Services Award for his legal work helping children with access to education and improper and excessive school discipline as well as for his lengthy career in public interest law. The award honors the memory of Georgia native and Mercer Law graduate Dan J. Bradley, who was president of the federal Legal Services Corporation from 1979 to 1982. He is credited by many
with having been instrumental in saving the Legal Services Corporation, which funds programs like Georgia Legal Services Program and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, from elimination in the early 1980s.

The Bar also presented the A Business Commitment Award to the Atlanta office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, which has accepted hundreds of pro bono cases for nonprofits serving low-income and marginalized communities in Georgia. The firm has also been a long-term sponsor of the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta, an agency that helps provide pro bono services to the nonprofit community.

The Law School Excellence in Access to Justice Individual Award was presented to Meagan M. Rafferty for the access to justice activities she undertook as a student at the Savannah Law School. Associate professor Andrew Wright praised Rafferty for her academic performance and the variety of ways she contributed to increasing access to justice through public interest law.

“Law students like Meagan demonstrate that the future of the practice of law — especially when it comes to pro bono — is in good hands. We were very impressed by her involvement in public interest initiatives and more so when we saw that she was also an academic standout,” said Monahan.

The Law School Excellence in Access to Justice Award specifically recognizes a law student who has excelled in participation in support of a civil pro bono or legal aid program or who has developed or has been instrumental in the development of a civil pro bono program satisfying previously unmet civil legal needs or extended services to underserved segments of the population.

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GLSP Health Policy Specialist Honored

Linda Lowe_Award Ceremony_Sept 9 2015_2

Georgians for a Healthy Future’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards were held on Sept. 9, 2015, and included a Health Advocacy Award in honor of Linda Lowe, Health Policy Specialist at Georgia Legal Services. The award is to be given to a professional or volunteer advocate whose “work advances access to quality, affordable health care in Georgia”, focusing on a vulnerable population and working toward policy change. Georgians for a Healthy Future say Linda, “has dedicated her career to serving as an advocate on behalf of underserved Georgians who need a voice on health and human services issues.” Linda is a public policy advocate focusing on Medicaid and other health programs for low-income Georgians, and has been at GLSP for over thirty years.

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GLSP Attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper Awarded

Jana J. Edmonson Cooper.  Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper Photo by John Disney/Daily Report

Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper was selected by the National Bar Association (NBA) to receive its Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Under 40 Award during the NBA’s 90th Annual Convention held in Los Angeles, CA July 19 -23, 2015. The award recognizes the nation’s top lawyers under 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, including in innovation, vision, leadership and legal and community involvement. In addition to the 40 Under 40 recognition, five of the forty awardees were deemed to have distinguished themselves further by exemplifying Excellence in Activism, Excellence in Innovation, Excellence in Leadership, Excellence in Service and as Best Advocate of the Year, respectively and honored with a second award to that effect. Jana was honored with the Excellence in Service Award for exemplifying service to low-income and underrepresented individuals, particularly those who have limited or no ability to communicate in English.

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GLSP, State Bar campaign exceeds goal

Holmen and check

State Bar President Charles Ruffin presents check to GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen

GLSP’s recent campaign through the State Bar of Georgia has surpassed its fundraising goal by netting $554,299.

“We are so pleased to see growing support among the private bar,” said Executive Director Phyllis Holmen.

Donations to the State Bar “And Justice for All” campaign come from individual lawyers around the state who either write individual checks or opt in to a GLSP donation through their State Bar dues payment. The funds were presented to Holmen by State Bar President Charles Ruffin at the Bar convention in Amelia Island, Florida in June.

“It is gratifying to see lawyers across the state write checks to support civil legal services for the poor,” said Holmen.  The Bar campaign represents less than five percent of GLSP’s total budget, but is the way the organization connects with Georgia lawyers who believe in supporting civil legal aid. Many state lawyers also support GLSP by volunteering to represent low-income clients pro bono.

Most of GLSP’s funding comes from grants from the Legal Services Corporation, which is funded by Congress and supports legal aid organizations across the country. Other GLSP funding comes from contracts through the Older Americans Act, as well as grants from the Judicial Council of Georgia, the Georgia Bar Foundation, the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Georgia Legal Services Foundation, the National Council on Aging, various fundraising events and others.

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Fund to support GLSP fellows from Emory Law

As former GLSP board President Aaron Buchsbaum neared the end of his life, his family sought ways to honor the institutions that had meant so much to him. Georgia Legal Services Program was one of those institutions. With the establishment of the Aaron L. Buchsbaum Fellowship Fund, based on a gift of $650,000 from Buchsbaum and his wife Esther, a recent Emory Law graduate will be chosen every other year to receive funding to work as a fellow at GLSP for a year.

Read more from Emory Lawyer magazine: CLICK HERE

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GLSP wins major ABA award for public service

Contact: Susan Wells, Public Information Specialist or cell: 404 558-0372

Georgia Legal Services Program has won major recognition from the American Bar Association in the form of the Hodson Award for Public Service for 2014.
Named in honor of the distinguished public service career of the late Major General Kenneth J. Hodson, a former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army and founder of the ABA’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, the Hodson Award recognizes “sustained, outstanding performance for a specific and extraordinary service by a government or public sector law office.”
“The work ethic, accomplishments and dedication of the staff of the Georgia Legal Services Program are truly an inspiration to other public lawyers across the country,” said Alexander W. Purdue, chair of the American Bar Association, as he announced the award.
In the nomination letter, a committee of prominent Georgia lawyers wrote:
“For over 40 years, GLSP attorneys and paralegals have reached out to clients in rural areas, small towns and even counties in Georgia where there are no other lawyers at all. The firm is innovative, strategic, and effective in addressing critical civil legal problems. In this nomination, you will read about the efforts of GLSP to address the recession-driven legal needs of their clients, even in the face of declining resources with which to do so. We believe the sustained, extraordinary services by GLSP make it highly deserving of the Hodson Award for 2014.”
That committee includes R. William Ide III, a partner in McKenna Long & Aldridge law firm, a past president of the ABA and one of the founders of GLSP. It also includes The Honorable Hugh Thompson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
The award will be presented at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston at the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division’s awards reception on Friday, August 8th.

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2013 Champions For Justice chosen by GLSP board



Atlanta—Georgia Legal Services Program has selected five outstanding Georgians as Champions of Justice for 2013. These three lawyers, one community activist, and one former staff member are honored for their service to GLSP and its mission of providing access to justice and avenues out of poverty for low-income people all over the state outside Metro Atlanta.

“We deeply enjoy celebrating these folks because they are our heroes,” said GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen. “They have walked the walk for years, sometimes decades, to help Georgians from the lowest economic circumstances  gain access to the courts and to justice to help resolve issues that keep them trapped in poverty.”

This is the third year the GLSP Board of Directors has named Champions of Justice.

“Our Champions of Justice have each demonstrated a passion and commitment to ensuring access to our justice system for all Georgians.   They have each worked tirelessly to preserve this principle that is so fundamental to our democracy, and I find myself inspired and humbled by the example they have set,” said Board President Ben Garren of The Coca Cola Co.’s Legal Department.

Georgia Legal Services is a non-profit law firm serving 154 Georgia counties outside metro Atlanta. Its attorneys serve low-income clients in civil matters such as domestic violence protection, access to health care, preserving housing, access to public education, and more.


Anne Ervin is nominated for her long and faithful service on the GLSP board of directors, as a client member representing the Columbus region, appointed by the Muscogee County Foster Parents Association.    Ms. Ervin served two full terms, from 1992 — 2000 and 2003 — 2011.   She also served as a member of the Executive Committee from 1998 – 2000, and 2003 — 2005, and as Vice President from 2005 — 2011.    During her service she was a dedicated supporter of the mission of GLSP and an active and faithful participant at board meetings.   Ms. Ervin also faithfully contributed financially to GLSP.


Linda Klein, managing shareholder at Baker Donnelson’s Georgia offices, is nominated for her extraordinary work on behalf of the cause of justice for all over several decades.  As President of the State Bar of Georgia, she conceived and implemented plan to secure $2 million from the Georgia General Assembly in 1995 for legal services to needy survivors of domestic violence.  Since that date, over $ 35 million has been appropriated for this purpose, enabling thousands of survivors of domestic violence across the state to secure protective orders, child support awards, assistance with needed benefits and resolution of related problems involving housing, schooling, and more.   Linda has remained a member of the Judicial Council Committee to Distribute Funding for Domestic Violence Victims to assure this funding is dedicated to the cause she fought for. She chaired the board of the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia and served on the board of the Georgia Bar Foundation, assuring that resources from those organizations are also directed to legal services for the poor.  She received the State Bar’s H. Sol Clark award in 1999, and a Resolution from the GLSP board in 2008, for these and other efforts.   As a leader of the American Bar Association, she continues to actively support civil legal services for the poor by annually lobbying Georgia congressional delegation to support the Legal  Services Corporation, and by speaking and writing about the cause of justice for all.


Cubbedge Snow, Jr., retired partner at Martin Snow in Macon, Ga., is nominated for his many years of service to the cause of justice for all, beginning with his support of the early efforts of the young lawyers working to establish the Georgia Indigents Legal Services and GLSP in the early 1970s.    Cubbedge Served on the board of GLSP from 1988 – 1993, and as president of the State Bar of Georgia from 1974 — 1975, continuing to advocate for justice for all.    He has served as a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates and its Board of Governors, as well as a member of many ABA committees, most notably the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.    Access to justice has been one of the abiding values of Cubbedge’s legal career, and his personal support for staff of GLSP has been invaluable.   Cubbedge received the H. Sol Clark Award from the State Bar of Georgia in 1988.

Copy of Frank StricklandFRANK STRICKLAND

Frank Strickland, of Strickland Brockington Lewis in Atlanta, is nominated for his longstanding dedication to the cause of equal justice.  Frank served on the GLSP Board from 1997 — 2003 as a State Bar appointee.  He was a member of the Board’s Executive Committee from 1998-2001, and served as Vice-President from 2001 — 2003, chairing the Fundraising Committee in that capacity.  Frank resigned from the GLSP board to take the office of Chair of the Board of the Legal Services Corporation in 2003, where he served until 2010.  Frank expended tremendous personal and political influence to advance the cause of justice, building a renewed bipartisan base of support for legal services in the U.S. Congress.   He devoted countless uncompensated hours in meetings of the LSC board held across the United States and in other countries.  He continues to support the national cause as a member of the board of the Friends of the Legal Services Corporation.   He continues to work to develop new resources for legal services in Georgia as well.  Thousands of lives have been positively affected by his service.  Frank received a resolution of appreciation for his efforts from the GLSP Board in 2010.


Jack Webb is nominated as a Champion of Justice for his dedication to the cause of justice for all as demonstrated by his long tenure as the Director of Finance for Georgia Legal Services Program.  Jack served in that position from January 2, 1979, until his retirement on March 31, 2011. He developed and implemented financial processes, budget planning, and accounting oversight as GLSP grew into a multi-million dollar non-profit law firm with multiple and ever-increasing funding sources, each with different reporting requirements, restrictions and deliverables, and grant terms.   He supported administrative staff in multiple offices throughout Georgia, which for a period of time exceeded twenty different locations.  He provided high-level, confidential, and creative input to the GLSP Executive Team, working through widely varying funding challenges and opportunities that changed every year.   He offered wise counsel and constant emphasis on making decisions with the best interests of service to clients as a touchstone.  As a supreme test, GLSP came through an audit by the LSC Inspector General in February 2013 with no issues, thanks in large part to the systems and staffing that Jack developed and supported.


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Longtime donors honored at three law firms

Members of the law firms of Sutherland and Alston & Bird were honored at recent receptions at those firms. Donors from King & Spalding will be honored in an upcoming reception. These individuals have given consistently to GLSP for more than 15 years, and several have been supporters for more than 25 years. Former board member Charlie Lester hosted the event at Sutherland on May 30, 2013, in the absence of board member Patti Gorham. Board member Pat Flinn was the host of the Alston & Bird event on June 26, 2013. All of the special donors were delighted to be recognized and happy to learn more about the work of GLSP.

Here’s a list of the honored donors:

Sutherland, May 30, 2013

George L. Cohen
Katherine M. Cohen
Peter H. Dean
John H. Fleming
Peter A. Fozzard
Dorothy B. Franzoni
Patricia A. Gorham
Wiliam M. Hames
Charles D. Hurt, Jr.
Charles T. Lester, Jr.
James R. McGibbon
Daniel R. McKeithen
James A. Orr
W. Henry Parkman

Alston & Bird, June 26, 2013

John L. Coalson, Jr.
Clare H. Draper, IV
Robert G. Edge
Dow N. Kirkpatrick, II
John L. Latham
Timothy J. Peaden
John I. Spangler, III
Laura G. Thatcher

King & Spalding, October 3, 2013

Patricia T. Barmeyer
John A. Chandler
Albert H. Conrad, Jr.
Dwight J. Davis
G. Lemuel Hewes
William E. Hoffmann, Jr.
Philip E. Holladay, Jr.
Harry C. Howard
Daniel J. King
Ralph B. Levy
L. Joseph Loveland, Jr.
Mason W. Stephenson
Elizabeth V. Tanis

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Champions of Justice Event Honors Men and Women Who Have Given Decades of Service to Low-Income Georgians

At a gala reception March 14, 2013, at the State Bar of Georgia Building, the Champions of Justice were honored for their service in making justice accessible to low income Georgians. Look below the story for pictures of the event. (Photos by Don Morgan Photography & Video)

Honoree Elizabeth "Betsy" Neely, a co-founder of GLSP.

Champion of Justice Elizabeth “Betsy” Neely, Esq., said her help creating Georgia Legal Services Program is “one of the proudest associations of my Life. I’m so proud of what this program has done.”

Her sentiments summed up the atmosphere at the March 14, 2013, Champions of Justice event, at which men and women who have worked decades to bring access to justice to thousands of low income Georgians were honored for their service.

Neely, who was one of the co-founders of GLSP when she served on the Younger Lawyers Section Committee of the state Bar in the 1970s, helped establish the Georgia Indigents Legal Services and served as board secretary for several years. Along with honorees J. Ben Shapiro, Jr., Esq., Emory Law School Associate Dean A. James Elliott, R. William Ide, III, Esq., and Thomas E. Dennard, Jr., Esq., Neely studied the need for civil counsel for low-income Georgians before approaching the state Bar with the idea of setting up a legal aid organization to serve the small towns and rural areas of the state outside Metro Atlanta.

“When all is said and done, it’s what really makes a difference,” said Ide of his service to GLSP.  “We are lawyers, and that is what we are here to do is serve others.”

Thomas E. Dennard, Jr. Esq., co-founder of GLSP


The young lawyers who began GLSP had an uphill climb to make it happen, said Dennard, now an attorney in Brunswick. “We did not have a lot of support. A lot of people, even the Bar, did not support this back then. But my grandmother told me, ‘You do what you are supposed to do.’ So we kept on.

“It is so reassuring to see that 750,000 clients have been served in the 42 years GLSP has been around. What a wonderful tribute that is.”

Cora Johnson of Soperton has worked with GLSP’s indigent clients on social justice issues for 35 years. “I could have left Soperton,” she said, “but I wanted to make a difference where I live.” Now 87, Ms. Johnson is still working with GLSP and came to the event despite having broken her hip earlier in the year. “I’m out here now and can’t nobody stop me,” she said.

Honoree Cora Johnson

In opening remarks, GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen said Ms. Johnson had said to her before the event, “You have to praise the bridge that brought you.”  That is the idea behind honoring the Champions, Holmen said. “These people have gone before us and built the bridge that brought us.”

Honoree Lillie Winn of Walthourville died in February before she could accept her award, but her sister and her granddaughter accepted it for her. “If she had lived,” said Twanda Walthour, Ms. Winn’s granddaughter, “she would have been here. You couldn’t have stopped her.  GLSP was HER thing. And I’m going to do like she did. I’m going to keep on.”

Photos of the Champions of Justice Honors Ceremony

Hon. Hardy Gregory, Burke Sherwood, Elizabeth Neely, William Ide, Ben Shapiro, James Elliott, Thomas Dennard, Cora Johnson, Rosie Walthour, Phyllis Holmen.

Honoree R. William Ide, III, Esq., co-founder of GLSP.

GLSP Board President Burke Sherwood, Honoree Cora Johnson, GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen, Hon. Hardy Gregory.

Honoree Ben Shapiro, co-founder of GLSP, with Phyllis Holmen.

Honoree James Elliot, Associate Dean of Emory Law School and co-founder of GLSP.

Twanda Walthour, grand daughter of Honoree Lillie M. Winn, and Mrs. Winn's sister Rosie Walthour.

GLSP Board Member Wanda Collier with Board Chairman Burke Sherwood.


GLSP Board Member Michael Geoffroy gave closing remarks.

Hon. Hardy Gregor, former Georgia Supreme Court Justice, presented the awards. He is with Phyllis Holmen.

More pictures of the festivities!


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Cy pres awards support justice for all

Many thanks to Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer LLP!
GLSP has recently received the latest in a series of cy pres  awards that go back five years and involve four major cases handled by attorneys from the Columbus law firm Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer LLP, totaling almost $265,000.   We are deeply grateful for the support of the Hon. Clay Land of the U.S. District Court in Columbus and Judge John D. Allen of the Superior Court of Muscogee County.   The recommendations for these awards by Jim Butler and Joel Wooten, Charles A. Gower and Ben B. Phillips of Columbus, Samuel W. Oates of Columbus, and William H. Crowder of Minneapolis, MN, reflect their recognition of the importance of access to justice and their commitment to our shared value of justice for all.    These awards have enabled us to sustain services for low-income clients in the Columbus region despite severe reductions in funding from other sources.
Please contact GLSP Executive Director Phyllis J. Holmen at 404-563-7710, ext. 1609, or to inquire further about how cy pres awards to GLSP help make a difference for clients.

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