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Inaugural program draws community’s brightest

Leadership in Law creates buzz through profession

Attorney and former Gov. William Winter was a little perplexed. He had come to the Jackson Hilton to participate in the Leadership in Law awards program, and he could not understand why he had not heard of the attorney-recognition event beforehand.

When told this was the first time that the Mississippi Business Journal had offered the event, Winter said, “Oh, what a great idea. I’m honored to be a part of all of this.”

That positive buzz was also evident among the attendees and sponsors of the program held Nov. 5. The gathering offered a virtual who’s who of the brightest minds in the state’s legal community.

The inaugural Leadership in Law 2010 program celebrated the achievements of 50 “Leaders in Law” representing law firms and law-focused groups scattered across the state. And one attorney, Fred L. Banks Jr. of Phelps Dunbar, was singled out as the top “Leader in Law.”

While new to the MBJ, the program is a staple among MBJ’s sister publications in the Dolan Media Company family.

MBJ publisher, Alan Turner, knows the success of the Leadership in Law program first hand. Before coming to the MBJ, he was publisher of Dolan’s Michigan Lawyers Weekly. That publication had been successfully offering a similar recognition program for attorneys for years when Turner arrived.

“It is a very successful program at Michigan Lawyers Weekly, and we wanted to adapt the program to Mississippi’s legal community,” said Turner, who added that the MBJ had been working on launching the program for many months.

Those honored represented a wide cross-section of the state’s legal community. Law firms from the largest in the state to single-attorney offices received awards. Specialties ranged from family law to construction law and almost everything in between.

Turner greeted the crowd of 400-plus who gathered at the Jackson Hilton on County Line Road. Winter led the invocation, and Mike Maloney of the Mississippi College School of Law led in the pledge of allegiance. The Jackson Hilton provided the food.

The highlight of the evening was the presenting of the awards, which featured a Power Point presentation and a short biography on each of the 50 honorees. Anticipation built as the crowd waited to hear who would be named the top “Leader in Law.” When announced, Banks received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The inaugural event’s sponsors were the accounting firm HORNE LLP and the law firm of Daniel, Coker, Horton & Bell, P.A.

“Daniel Coker Horton & Bell has historically supported leadership in the legal community,” said Terry Levy, president of Daniel, Coker, Horton & Bell. “Two of the firm’s founders served as presidents of the Mississippi Bar Association. Several of our directors have served in leadership positions in various legal organization including the Defense Research Institute, Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association, American Inns of Court, Mississippi Board of Bar Examiners and local county bar associations. The firm sponsors a variety of activities that encourage academic leadership and scholarship in law — such as the Daniel Coker Horton & Bell Scholarship, awarded at University of Mississippi School of Law and the Ole Miss Moot Court Appellate Competition.

“Sponsoring the Mississippi Business Journal’s Leadership in Law Award is an excellent opportunity to recognize and encourage leadership in the practice of law. We are especially pleased to support this endeavor because it encourages and recognizes true leadership in the practice of law, and shares this important recognition with the business leaders of Mississippi.”

Robert H. Alexander Jr., CPA/ABV, ASA, HORNE partner and firm-wide director of Fraud, Forensic and Litigation Services, said, “HORNE works with numerous attorneys throughout the state in all aspects of our practices. The Leadership in Law event is a great way for us to recognize their legal successes and show our appreciation for those relationships.”

Turner said he has been delighted with the response the new program has received from its sponsors as well as the legal community as a whole.

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