Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder was presented the 2014 William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award at the Tennessee Bar Association's annual meeting in Gatlinburg.
Given annually by the TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows, the award honors a lawyer who has given outstanding service to the legal profession, the legal system and their community. Justice Holder was specifically recognized for her work on lawyers' assistance and access to justice issues.
"Justice Holder has made attorney well being a priority at the state and national level. She was instrumental in establishing the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and has served as the court's liaison to the program for many years," officials said. She also has worked on the American Bar Association's Lawyer Impairment Project, the Memphis Bar Association's Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee and the TBA's Lawyers Concerned For Lawyers initiative -- all of which are designed to help lawyers struggling with substance abuse, stress or emotional health issues.
"Justice Holder also has been a tireless advocate for access to justice initiatives. Under her leadership in 2009, the court formed its own Access to Justice Commission, which is tackling the need for more lawyers to handle pro bono cases for those who cannot afford a lawyer. The commission is working on a number of initiatives, including law firm participation programs, increasing law student involvement, encouraging legal clinics in underserved areas and sponsoring incentive programs for volunteers. Justice Holder has served as the liaison to the commission since its inception and has remained actively involved in its work," officials went on to say.
Justice Holder, who will retire when her current term ends on Aug. 31, has served on the state Supreme Court since 1996. In 2008, she became the court's first female chief justice and served in that role for two years. Justice Holder is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a 1975 graduate of the Duquesne University School of Law.
The Leech Award is named for former Attorney General William M. Leech and was given to him posthumously in 1997. The TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows was founded to promote the objectives of the Young Lawyers Division and to encourage young lawyers to be active in the TBA. Members are inducted each year on the basis of their participation with, or support of, the Young Lawyers Division.
The 2014 Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention was held June 11-14 in conjunction with several other legal organizations, including the Tennessee Judicial Conference and the Tennessee Lawyers' Association for Women. This joint meeting allows legal groups in the state to address common issues and concerns and offers opportunities for additional education, long-range planning, and recognition of attorneys who have performed outstanding legal work and community service.