VOL. 121 | NO. 231 | Thursday, November 30, 2006
Law & The Courts
Wharton Presentation Closes Year Of 'Inspiring' Seminars
By Amy O. Williams
When Barbara Zoccola was named 2006 Memphis Bar Association's president, she chose "Law Inspires ..." as the year's overriding thesis. It has since paid dividends.
"I chose the theme because law does inspire," Zoccola said last year when she first became president of the MBA. Almost one year later, that theme - and the seminars which it spawned - has come full circle in confirming that seed of thought.
The 2006 series of luncheon seminars wraps up in December with a presentation by Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton. His presentation, "Law Inspires...Leadership," is Dec. 7 at The Peabody Hotel.
"Mayor Wharton is an excellent choice as the final speaker in this year-long series," said Anne Fritz, executive director of the Memphis Bar Association. "He is universally admired and respected by lawyers for his integrity, honor, and commitment to justice."
Also during the event, Zoccola will pass the presidential gavel to incoming president David M. Cook.
President of The Hardison Law Firm PC since 1995, Cook has served for the past year as vice president and automatically succeeds Zoccola as president. Cook won the W.J. Michael Cody Pro Bono Publico Attorney of the Year Award for 2006.
Elected officers of the MBA for 2007 (which include the positions of treasurer, secretary and board of directors) currently are being decided and will be announced at the December event.
Set to inspire
Lawyers who attend the seminars receive continuing legal education credit, the professional development credits that lawyers are required to obtain on an annual basis.
"They are important because they encourage lawyers to renew their commitment to the highest ideals and goals of the legal profession, which is one of the missions of the Memphis Bar Association," Fritz said. "The role of lawyers is routinely criticized and misunderstood by the public, so programs like Law Inspires reminds lawyers of why they became lawyers in the first place and encourages them to inspire others regarding the law."
Memphis Bar Association's Law Inspires...Leadership
When: Thursday, Dec. 7, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Where: The Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Ave.
Basics: Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton will speak, and the MBA presidential gavel will be passed to incoming president David M. Cook
2006 Law Inspires series speakers:
Herman Morris Jr., Former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas & Water
Magistrate Judge Tu M. Pham, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee
Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton
Each year, the MBA president selects a theme for the lecture series once he or she has been officially named. Past themes have included the "Champions" series in 2004 when John Heflin was president of the MBA. That series spotlighted Memphians who made a difference in the field of law. Another set of seminars several years ago called the Heroes Series featured nationally known lawyers from across the country.
"I chose the Law Inspires theme because I think that law inspires us to do great things out there, and in turn, we're inspired by the law to do great things as lawyers," said Zoccola, an assistant with the U.S. Attorney's office specializing in bankruptcy cases.
In addition to her theme, Zoccola had three goals for her seminars: diversity, public service and a voice for the profession.
Zoccola reflected on those goals when she chose the speakers for the series, she said.
"One of the ways to fulfill diversity is to look at the diverse voices in our community and to select speakers who I think represent lawyers, judges and the best of our profession."
The 2006 Law Inspires series included Herman Morris Jr., a former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas & Water. Federal judges Tu M. Pham and Bernice Donald also spoke during the series over the past year.
The four seminars held some related themes of how law inspires change, dreams and justice.
Zoccola said she is proud of this year's series and feels that it has been very successful.
"We have had many lawyers that have attended each one," she said. "And the highlight was on Sept. 11 when we had U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We had 1,000 people at The Peabody for it."
Ginsburg spoke during the MBA's annual meeting at that time. Her presentation marked the first appearance by a U.S. Supreme Court justice before the MBA. The justice spoke about how, through mentors and arduous work, the law had inspired her and led her into a career as a civil rights lawyer and eventually took her to the U.S. high court.
When it comes to her own practice, Zoccola said the law inspires her in many ways - but mostly, she is inspired by her colleagues in the legal profession.
"I am inspired by the excellent lawyers and judges who devote much of their time to public service and improving the profession through diversity and making sure the lawyers and judges are heard with their voice in the profession," she said.