American Bar Association announces award winners

 ‘Small Law’ seminar at Mississippi College School of Law to receive ABA award

The American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division will honor the Mississippi College School of Law with its Solo and Small Firm Trainer Award, which recognizes attorneys who have made significant contributions to educating lawyers or law students regarding the opportunities and challenges of a solo and small-firm practice.
The school’s “Small Law” seminar, which gives an introduction to small law firm management and solo practice, will be recognized during the Solo and Small Firm Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 2, during the 2014 Joint Spring Meeting at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The idea for the seminar started with a conversation between two longtime friends and colleagues, Dean Jim Rosenblatt of the Mississippi College School of Law and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James W. Kitchens.
In a letter to the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, Kitchens stated: “Looking at my beloved, and often troubled, state through the eyes of one who began his practice nearly 50 years ago in a town of 5,000, I know the need and I recognize the opportunity for today’s Mississippi College law students. … The Small Law program is teaching students how to help Mississippians cope with family law problems, how to probate a will and administer an estate.”
While the idea began with an informal chat in a justice’s chamber, the wheels really began to turn when the program was handed over to Sheryl Johnson, the “Small Law” director who is credited with the success of the program’s first year.
The “Small Law” seminar is open to second- and third-year law students for their own benefit — no credit hours are given — but the program is free for students who wish to participate. The program is broken down into two parts: fall and spring sessions. The fall session included a wide range of speakers knowledgeable in the creation and management areas of solo and small-firm practice as well as workshops and practicums focusing on practical skills necessary to start up a solo or small-firm practice.
The spring session builds and expands upon the knowledge gained during the seminars. The seminars’ assignments are completed under the direction of a mentor who provides guidance and feedback throughout the process.
 
Nevada’s Transitioning Into Practice program to receive ABA Solo and Small Firm Project Award
The American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division will honor the State Bar of Nevada with its Solo and Small Firm Project Award, which recognizes bar leaders and associations for their successful implementation of a project or program specifically targeted to solo and small-firm lawyers.
The State Bar of Nevada’s Transitioning Into Practice program, established in late 2011, supports newly admitted lawyers by pairing them in a one-on-one relationship with experienced attorney mentors for a six-month introductory period. While TIP is an important tool for all of Nevada’s incoming lawyers, the program is considered essential to the success of solo and small-firm practitioners.
The award honoring TIP will be presented during the Solo and Small Firm Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 2, during the 2014 Joint Spring Meeting at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Mark Gunderson, a TIP mentor and small-practice owner said: “The days of when new attorneys would largely be mentored in public practice or private practice law firms before starting their own individual practices are gone. TIP fills that gap and provides uniquely tailored mentoring to better serve new attorneys as well as the public.”
During the TIP training cycle, the mentor provides his or her trainee with an introduction to the practice of law in Nevada. Using a combination of a comprehensive library of support material and a flexible curriculum that includes both mandatory and elective elements, the training can be customized to match the new attorney’s interests and areas of practice.
The TIP program is self-funded through a combination of program fees assessed directly to new attorney participants and program sponsorships. The fees are used to support a half-time staff position and twice-annual social kickoff events in Las Vegas and Reno, along with video and training resources, mentor recruitment, focus group evaluations and general administration costs.
To date, more than 400 new attorneys have successfully completed the TIP program, which is measured through a combination of formal surveys and individual feedback.
 
Larry Walker Jr. to receive ABA solo and small-firm Lifetime Achievement Award
Larry Walker Jr., a native of Perry, Ga., and a former Georgia general assemblyman, will receive the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes solo and small-firm attorneys who are widely accepted by their peers as having significant lifetime distinction, exceptional achievement and distinction in an exemplary way.
Winners are viewed by other solo and small-firm practitioners as epitomizing the ideals of the legal profession and of solo and small-firm practitioners. Walker’s award will be presented during the Solo and Small Firm Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 2, during the 2014 Joint Spring Meeting at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Walker’s extensive career began in June 1965, when he graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law and took his first job. He soon purchased his first office space, just over 520 square feet, and hung his shingle: “Larry C. Walker Jr., Attorney at Law.”
A judge in the Perry Municipal Court by age 23, Walker never slowed down. He was elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1972, taking the seat formerly occupied by Sam Nunn. He served continuously until January 2005. Furthermore, Walker assumed the duties of administration floor leader for Gov. Joe Frank Harris in 1983, and in 1986, he was elected majority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, serving in that capacity for 16 years.
Among Walker’s achievements, he was a founding member of Walker, Hulbert, Gray & Moore LLP, served as chair of the state Legislative Leaders Foundation (1999-2002), represented Georgia’s 8th Congressional District on the Georgia Department of Transportation Board (2007-09), and in August 2009 was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents as an at-large member. 
Walker writes a weekly column for the Houston (Ga.) Home Journal and is the author of “Life on the Gnat Line.” 

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