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.