Each year on May 1, the country celebrates the ideals of equality and justice under the rule of law in the United States and works to cultivate a respect for the legal system that contributes to our freedoms. This day is known as Law Day. Law Day was originally the idea of former American Bar Association president, Charles S. Rhyne, as a way to celebrate the legal system.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower went on to declare the first Law Day in 1958 and its formal observance was codified in 1961.
This year’s Law Day honors the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Since its inception on June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta has stood for the protection of personal liberties and has also come to embody the idea that no person is above the law.
In the spirit of Law Day, bar associations and legal education associations throughout the country often participate in philanthropic and educational activities to benefit their respective communities. Locally, the Blue Ridge Bar Association and Rotary Club of Canton will be celebrating Law Day this year through a variety of service activities and events.
On March 27, the Blue Ridge Bar Association hosted an Easter Egg Hunt at Brown Park for the children of the Cherokee Family Violence Center. Thanks to donations from the community, about 40 children and their families were able to come out to gather eggs and toys. The Canton Police Department and Canton Fire Department also assisted in the festivities. Even the Easter Bunny made an appearance.
The Blue Ridge Bar Association will also be sending volunteers to Goshen Valley Boys Ranch to help out with various projects April 11. Located in Waleska, Goshen Valley provides homes for young men and boys who have been abused or neglected. Goshen also provides counseling, education, tutoring and other groups to assist the residents in breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect.
On April 10, the members of the Blue Ridge Bar Association will meet to consider nominations for the Liberty Bell Award and the Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award.
The Liberty Bell Award is the most prestigious award given by lawyers to a non-lawyer. The award recognizes an individual who encourages greater respect for law and the courts, stimulates a deeper sense of individual responsibility so that citizens recognize their duties as well as their rights, contributes to the effective functioning of our institutions of government or fosters a better understanding and appreciation for the rule of law.
Locally, the award is given to a Cherokee County resident to recognize that individual for contributions outside of the person’s regular employment.
The Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award recognizes a non-lawyer for his or her work in the legal community. This award is only given when a member of the community has made significant accomplishments in the legal community and therefore is not awarded every year.
The Blue Ridge Bar Association will also be collecting donations for the Georgia Legal Food Frenzy. This annual competition between Georgia’s law firms, legal organizations and law schools raises food and funds for regional food banks across the state.
The culmination of the local Law Day celebration will be on April 28 at the Law Day luncheon. The luncheon will be hosted by the Blue Ridge Bar Association and Rotary Club of Canton at the Bluffs.
On that day, the Blue Ridge Bar Association will present the Liberty Bell Award and Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award.
Additionally, the Blue Ridge Bar Association is pleased to announce the Law Day Speaker will be the Honorable Judge John J. Ellington of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge Ellington became one of the youngest trial court Judges in Georgia when he was first appointed to the bench in 1991.
He has served on the Court of Appeals since 1999. He is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Judicial Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service on the Bench and commitment to improving the practice of law. He has also served in several leadership positions in business, professional, civic and religious organizations.
Lauren Keller is an attorney at Thompson, Meier & King, which focuses on family law, criminal law and estate planning. She is a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Georgia School of Law.