Shane Bridgforth Named Jefferson County Pro Bono Attorney of the Year

Attorney and Pine Bluff native William McShane “Shane” Bridgforth has been selected the 2011 Jefferson County VOCALS Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, according to VOCALS Pro Bono Coordinator Donna Ramsey.  The Volunteer Organization for the Center for Arkansas Legal Services awards the honor each year to an attorney who demonstrates outstanding commitment to providing pro bono service to low-income residents of the Jefferson County.  “Shane is always ready to step in and assist our clients in settling their legal matters,” said Ramsey.  “He is a great asset to our VOCALS panel.”

Bridgforth, who is a partner at Ramsay, Bridgforth, Robinson & Raley, has handled a total of 41 VOCALS cases over the course of his legal career.  His clients—none of whom had the financial resources to hire a private attorney—have included domestic violence victims and non-parental caregivers of young children.

“I have always believed in equal justice for all people and that people in our community should have access to the assistance of an attorney in important legal matters regardless of their economic status,” said Bridgforth.  “It is a great honor to have been selected the 2011 VOCALS Attorney of the Year for Jefferson County.”

“The volunteer work that Mr. Bridgforth has consistently contributed provides critical legal assistance to low-income residents of Jefferson County,” said Jean Carter, Executive Director of the Center for Arkansas Legal Services.  “Pro bono service is now more important than ever in Arkansas due to both the current economic crisis and recent federal and state budget cuts.”

Bridgforth is a 1990 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, where he was a member of Phi Delta Phi and served on the moot court team.  He is a member of the Jefferson County, Arkansas Bar, and American Bar Associations, and currently serves on the Arkansas Supreme Court on Model Jury Instructions—Civil.  He is Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation.

Mr. Bridgforth has previously served on the Arkansas Bar Association’s House of Delegates and Executive Council, as well as the board of directors for the Center for Arkansas Legal Services.  He has served on other community organization boards and committees, including the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, the Pine Bluff Child Center, the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, and the Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioner Awarded 2010 Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award

The Arkansas Bar Foundation presented Commissioner Annabelle C. Imber Tuck, former justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, with its 2010 “Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award.”  The Foundation presented the award on June 10, 2010, during the Arkansas Bar Association’s annual meeting.

Ann Pyle, executive director of the Arkansas Bar Foundation, prepared the following remarks in honor of Justice Imber Tuck:

A statewide award was developed to recognize commitment to and participation in equal justice programs for the poor, including pro bono efforts through legal services programs.   The Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award is given this year to Justice Annabelle C. Imber Tuck.

In addition to leading an illustrious career as a lawyer, judge, and ultimately Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, she has been a tireless advocate for access to justice efforts in Arkansas.  Since 1977, she has dedicated her professional career to fostering equal access to justice for those without the resources to afford legal representation.

Justice Tuck is a member of the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, serving in this capacity since October of 2005.  She regularly speaks to attorneys and judges throughout the state about the importance of pro bono work.  She currently chairs the Commission’s Education Committee and led the planning of the Commission’s first statewide “Promise of Justice Conference.”  Justice Tuck played an integral role in the completion of the Commission’s DVD entitled “Forging the Road to Civil Justice.”  In addition, she presented the Commission’s proposal to the Supreme Court to allow members of the Commission to establish the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation, Inc.

No words could better summarize Justice Tuck’s commitment to equal justice than this statement from her nominator:  “She has worked diligently to raise the awareness among attorneys and judges about the need for legal aid and about each attorney’s ethical obligation to perform pro bono services….These accomplishments demonstrate Justice Tuck’s ongoing commitment to improving access to our state’s legal system for low-income Arkansans.”

It gives me great pleasure to present this year’s Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award to Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck.