Nationally observed on May 1 each year, Law Day is an occasion for citizens not only to reflect on, but also to educate others about our nation’s rights and values. For that reason, schools, governments and bar associations often mark the event by inviting speakers, giving presentations, and hosting luncheons meant to remind us of the values our nation holds dear.
This year’s Law Day theme, “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters,” provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the importance of our voting rights as we approach the 50th anniversaries of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We are called on to reflect on what our nation’s founders intended in crafting a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” and how to address the challenges we still face in ensuring participation of each citizen in that government.
Locally, the Blue Ridge Bar Association hosts an array of Law Day events leading up to the national occasion each year to educate and serve the community.
This year, the Blue Ridge Bar Association kicks off its Law Day activities with a service project. The Blue Ridge Bar Association will send volunteers to perform community service to benefit Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, a faith-based, long-term residential care facility for boys in Waleska.
The culmination of local Law Day festivities is a luncheon hosted jointly by the Blue Ridge Bar Association and the Canton Rotary Club. Each year, the luncheon features a keynote speaker to address the year’s Law Day theme. This year’s speaker is Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens. Olens has served the state as attorney general since 2011.
Known for his efforts in philanthropy and community service, Olens is the recipient of several awards, including the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute’s “Excellence in Public Service Award” and Cobb County Citizen of the Year.
Olens started the Georgia Legal Food Frenzy initiative, designed to help alleviate hunger and need among children during summer months when no school-provided meals are available. As part of this year’s Law Day celebration, the Blue Ridge Bar Association will be participating in Olens’ Georgia Legal Food Frenzy. The local bar will be collecting both monetary donations and canned goods to benefit Georgia families in need. Olens’ Georgia Legal Food Frenzy initiative has produced the equivalent of 1.4 million pounds of food for the state since its inception.
After the keynote address at the Law Day Luncheon, the Blue Ridge Bar Association presents the Liberty Bell Award and the Robert “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award to respected members of the community.
The Liberty Bell Award is a prestigious award given by lawyers to a non-lawyer. The award recognizes outstanding community service in one of these areas: promoting a better understanding of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights; encouraging greater respect for law and the courts; stimulating a deeper sense of individual responsibility so that citizens recognize their duties as well as their rights; contributing to the effective functioning of our institutions of government; or fostering a better understanding and appreciation of the rule of law. Locally, the Liberty Bell Award is presented to a Cherokee County resident for that person’s contributions to the community outside the person’s regular employment.
The Robert “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award recognizes a non-lawyer for exceptional service within the legal community. This award is not presented annually, but is reserved for exemplary dedication to the local courts and legal community.
This year’s local Law Day, highlighting American Democracy and the Rule of Law, will be celebrated April 29 at the Bluffs Conference Center in Canton.
Jenny L. Carver is a native of north Georgia and a two-time graduate of Mercer University. She practices in Canton at Carver & DeBord P.C., focusing on criminal law, appeals, family law, and wills and estates.