The Ben F. Johnson Jr. Public Service Award is presented each year to a Georgia attorney whose overall accomplishments reflect the high tradition of selfless public service that our founding dean, Ben F. Johnson Jr., exemplified during his career and life.
"Ben F. Johnson Jr. worked tirelessly to ensure equal access to the legal profession through helping private schools integrate without losing their tax exempt status and helping restore part-time, ABA-accredited legal education to Atlanta at Georgia State," says Steven J. Kaminshine, dean and professor of law. "His commitment to public service is exemplary for all Georgia lawyers."
Nominations will be accepted online Thursday, Oct. 16, through Friday, Dec. 6. Include a:
Former chair of Sutherland's Pro Bono and Public Service Committees, Judith A. O'Brien has worked with more than 400 attorneys in the firm's Atlanta, Austin, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C., offices to engage them in serving clients who otherwise could not afford legal representation.
A long-time champion of community service, O'Brien has served on numerous nonprofit boards and is a past president of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. In addition to serving as the board attorney for a large urban school district in Atlanta, O'Brien has handled specialized litigation on behalf of large and small school districts in Georgia and elsewhere, and a full range of employment litigation in federal and state courts, representing employers in lawsuits brought under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, ERISA and other federal and state statutes, as well as claims based on breach of contract and tort theories. More.
• 2013: Judith A. O'Brien
• 2003: Stephen B. Bright
• Clark Cunningham, W. Lee Burge Professor of Law and Ethics and committee chair
• Linda K. DiSantis (J.D. '88)
• Ramsey Knowles (J.D. '05), Law Alumni Council president
• Ben Johnson III
• Cassady V. Brewer, assistant professor of law
• Sylvia Caley (J.D. '89), associate clinical professor and co-associate director of the HeLP Clinic
• Paul Milich, professor of law
• Charity Scott, professor of law
• Tanya Washington, associate professor of law
Throughout his legal career, Ben F. Johnson Jr. worked tirelessly to ensure access to all and diversify the legal field. As dean of Emory University School of Law, he and trustee Henry Bowden Sr. successfully challenged Georgia’s racist law that denied state tax exemptions to integrated private schools. This opened the way for Emory and other schools to admit minority students without losing their tax-exempt status.
As the founding dean of Georgia State University's College of Law, Johnson helped make possible the return of ABA-accredited, part-time legal education to Atlanta and enable part-time students to obtain a first-class legal education. He also was principal author of the legislation that creating the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.