VOL. 125 | NO. 107 | Thursday, June 3, 2010
Memphis Law Talk
Buck Lewis Personifies Commitment to Pro Bono Work
MARK SULLIVAN Special to The Daily News
Dictionary.com defines pro bono as “to work for the good of the public rather than for a profit or income.” Simply put, it is providing a service without charging a fee.
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC attorney and shareholder George T. “Buck” Lewis has made providing pro bono work for Memphis and Shelby County individuals and families an integral part of his life. Because of that commitment, Lewis has been named Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by his firm.
“Being a lawyer was something I always wanted to do,” said Lewis, who does about 120 hours of pro bono work a year. “Pro bono work is extremely rewarding. I have a sense of responsibility to give back, and it is a great way of helping others.
“The recipients are very gratified to get the help; they feel respected because a lawyer is listening to their issues.”
Lewis, who joined Baker Donelson in 1981, was recognized for his efforts during his term as 2008-2009 president of the Tennessee Bar Association. Lewis made access to justice the TBA’s theme that year, launching the “4ALL” campaign to bring needed legal services to Tennesseans of modest means.
The “4ALL” campaign resulted in significantly increased pro bono participation by Tennessee attorneys, and eight separate court rules and legislative changes that have been instrumental to enhancing the delivery of pro bono services across the state.
The campaign has garnered state and national recognition. The Tennessee Society of Association Executives named the campaign the best statewide program by an association in the past year. The program also won first place for service to the public from the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.
“My wife, Malinda, who is a paralegal, and I volunteer monthly at the free legal clinic sponsored by Memphis Area Legal Services and the Memphis Bar Association,” Lewis said. “My firm has a rich tradition of giving back to the community. Pro bono is strongly encouraged in lawyers’ ethics rules. Pro bono makes you feel good about being in the legal profession. Lawyers providing pro bono services are much happier in their jobs.”
Lisa W. Borden, the firm’s Pro Bono shareholder, said, “Buck exemplifies our commitment to pro bono work and to the overall betterment of our communities. He is one of many Baker Donelson attorneys who devote substantial time and effort to pro bono service.”
Lewis, chair of Baker Donelson’s Appellate Practice Section and former chair of the Business Litigation Group and Litigation Department, specializes in business, personal injury, health care and class action litigation. He serves as vice chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission.
Among his many professional distinctions are appointments to the Judicial Selection Commission, the Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission, the Supreme Court Advisory Commission on Rules of Trial and Appellate Procedure and the Tennessee Lawyers Fund for Client Protection.
Lewis also has served as president of the Memphis and Shelby County Bar Foundation and is a Fellow of the American, Tennessee and Memphis Bar Foundations. He earned his undergraduate, MBA and law degrees at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.