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VOL. 127 | NO. 82 | Thursday, April 26, 2012

Celebrating Law

Memphis legal community kicks off weeklong festivities

By Andy Meek

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The Memphis legal community is poised to kick off its annual weeklong celebration of the profession that will include a party in Downtown’s Court Square, a naturalization ceremony for new citizens and a remembrance of the dozens of lawyers and judges who died over the past 12 months.

The Shelby County Courthouse at 140 Adams Ave. plays an important role in the local legal profession, which kicks off its annual Law Week this weekend.  

(Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)

Memphis Bar Association Law Week events will start with a launch party in Court Square Friday, April 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

At its core, Law Week, which the bar generally holds in late April, is the Memphis Bar Association’s way of celebrating and honoring the legal profession and the service – the notion that the profession’s members are standing up for the interests of those who need an advocate.

It also says something about the spirit with which the profession is celebrated here, that the MBA has taken what began as the American Bar Association’s Law Day in the 1950s and expanded that to a week.

“It’s been going on a long time,” said MBA executive director Anne Fritz. “I’ve been here close to 20 years, and it was going on before I came. I remember there used to be parades down Main Street.

“The memorial service is always an important time for the legal community, to remember lawyers and judges who passed away during the year.”

Close to 30 members of the profession died over the past year, one of the most recent being an attorney with a deep tie to Memphis political history, Hunter Lane Jr. He died earlier this month at the age of 82.

The ABA Law Day began in 1957 when Charles Rhyne pictured a national day set aside to celebrate and honor the American legal system. And the national association holds events all over the country on its annual Law Day.

The ABA’s 2012 Law Day theme is “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.”

It’s an opportune time to hit upon that theme, with the judiciary occupying such a major spotlight in recent months, such as with the U.S. Supreme Court hearing what could be an historic challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care reform legislation.

Also with a view toward stressing the importance of the country’s independent judiciary, the local bar association has been promoting an educational campaign this year that will have MBA members fanning out to audiences throughout the area at schools, churches, businesses and more. The goal: provide a crash course in civics to educate the public on the importance of the country’s legal system.

Gary Smith, the 2012 president of the attorneys’ group, along with secretary Tommy Parker and member Porter Feild, developed the program they’re calling “Law Rules: The Importance of the American Legal System.”

Meanwhile, all members of the city’s law community are invited to Friday’s launch party, and this free event will feature live music by Walrus, food from the BBQ Shop, ice cream, beer, wine and more.

Monetary donations or canned donations to the Mid-South Food Bank are encouraged.

On Monday, April 30, a naturalization ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Hundreds of new citizens will be sworn in before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

The week’s annual memorial service will take place Wednesday, May 2, at noon at Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 N. Second St.

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