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Georgia Legal Services Program names its 2012 “Champions of Justice”

Thursday, August 09, 2012

  • Organization: Georgia Legal Services Program®
  • Source: Georgia

Atlanta- The Georgia Legal Services Program has named its 2012 “Champions of Justice,” a group of individuals selected and honored annually for their contributions as volunteer leaders in GLSP’s mission of providing justice for all.

This year’s class of “Champions” includes both lawyers and lay people whose support of GLSP and of access to justice for low-income people all over the state has been exemplary. They include:

J. Ben Shapiro, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, for his early commitment to and four decades of support for GLSP’s work to provide access to justice for Georgians in the small towns and rural areas of our state who cannot afford to hire private counsel. Mr. Shapiro was involved in the early days of Georgia Indigents Legal Services, the precursor to GLSP. His continued and generous financial support has enabled GLSP to grow and become one of the most highly-regarded legal services programs in the country.

Isabelle Harper, state secretary of the board of the Georgia Clients Council, for her work as a community activist and leader in the Augusta, Ga., area for many years, serving seniors with housing issues. She has also completed the GCC-sponsored lay mental health training, coordinated community education sessions for GLSP staff to present to residents of Waynesboro. She also coordinated a “Night with King” event in connection with GCC’s Claiming a Street Named King initiative.   The Georgia Clients Council is a sister organization of GLSP, composed of low-income individuals who are committed to justice, to community improvement, and to working for the elimination of barriers that keep people poor.

Walter E. Jospin, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, for his lifelong commitment to the shared value of justice for all and his service as a member of the GLSP board from 1994 to 1998. During his board membership, he helped establish a new and independent supporting organization, the Georgia Legal Services Foundation, to receive and manage the cy pres award given to GLSP in 1996 by the Hon. Marvin Shoob. He helped recruit and build a strong board and developed wise investment practices. Today, the Foundation boasts a history of providing more than $500,000 in gifts to the Program.

Cora Johnson, founding member of the Georgia Clients Council, for her work as a community activist and civil rights leader in central Georgia, using the leadership and advocacy skills learned from GCC training programs, to successfully advocate for funding for the development of affordable housing in Soperton. She also helped found the Treutlen County Community Sewing Center to help young poor women to learn a skill to get jobs. Her continued service as the president of the board of the Sewing Center resulted in, among other things, a partnership with non-profit organizations in New York and South Africa to create the “Doll Project,” teaching low-income women to make and sell dolls to supplement their income. She is also honored for her 20 years of service on the board of the Southern Partners Fund, working to advance social change in the rural south by teaching leadership and advocacy skills.

Thomas Dennard, Nightingale, Liles, Dennard & Carmical, for his work as President of the Younger Lawyers Section of the State Bar in 1972-73 advocating for the creation of the Georgia Indigents Legal Services against strong opposition. His work helped lay the groundwork for the success of GLSP. His subsequent service as one of the early presidents of the GLSP board and continued financial support and willingness to accept pro bono cases has been invaluable to the growth and success of GLSP.

Selection as a “Champion of Justice” means that GLSP recognizes the achievements, contributions, tenure with GLSP, or other service to GLSP, of the person selected, along with the person’s continuing service to the legal profession and/or the cause of justice. The Champions of Justice themselves act as ambassadors for GLSP with the Bar and/or state and federal policy makers and the public at large.

These “Champions” were chosen by the GLSP board of directors in June. They have all been invited to the October 5, 2012 board meeting at the State Bar Center in Atlanta to accept their awards.

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