Published on August 17, 2021 by Morgan Black  

Each year, we are honored to recognize our accomplished alumni through our Distinguished Alumni Awards. This year’s recipients are: 

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year: Senator Doug Jones ’79

Photo of Senator Jones

The Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award is given to a graduate who has distinguished himself/herself in the practice of law, service to the community, and leadership in the profession. 

Former United States Senator, Doug Jones, discovered a desire for public service at an early age. Raised in Fairfield, Alabama, during desegregation, one of his first jobs was working in the steel mill. Later, as a leader in the SGA at the University of Alabama, he realized he loved politics and knew he could make a difference working for the government. Obtaining a law degree was next. 

He said, “Learning the law and seeing the courts and justice fueled my desire to be part of the solution. During my second year in law school, I cut a few classes to watch a young Bill Baxley, Alabama’s Attorney General, prosecute the first 16th Street Baptist Church bombing trial. That was 1977 – the first time I saw that real, inspiring change was possible for Alabama.” 

After earning his J.D. in 1979, Senator Jones worked as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Howell Heflin. Then, in 1980, he became an assistant U.S. attorney in Birmingham. As a prosecutor and then private defense attorney, he developed a deeper understanding of our criminal justice system. Later, he served as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama beginning in 1997. He was nominated by a Democratic President and confirmed by a majority-Republican Senate.

Most notably, Jones participated in the reopening of a three-decade-old case that had been the most tarnishing crime in Alabama in the 20th century – the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. In that historical case, four little girls died and three of the four killers had escaped justice for over 35 years. His team convicted two former Klansmen for the murder of those four innocent children. Justice was delayed, but it was not denied. His book, Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights, provides a look behind the scenes of this landmark prosecution. For many years, Jones has presented a fascinating seminar to first-year Cumberland School of Law students about this prosecution. 

In a special election in December 2017, Jones was elected to the U.S. Senate and served that office from 2018 until 2021. Sen. Jones earned bipartisan praise from fellow lawmakers as well as top awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Rural Health Association, and more. He served as a contributor for CNN and is a fellow at the Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Jones is a distinguished senior fellow with Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, focusing his work on issues of racial justice and equality, voting rights, and law enforcement reform. As well, Jones is counsel with Arent Fox LLP in Washington, D.C., supporting clients in sectors including national security, government relations, government enforcement and white collar criminal allegations, and investigations.  

Indeed, Doug Jones has served our local and national communities with distinction. 

Young Alumna of the Year: LaMonica Orr-Love ’08

Photo of LaMonica Orr Love

The Young Alumnus of the Year award is given to a graduate who received his/her J.D. within the past 15 years, and who has distinguished himself/herself in the practice of law, service to the community, and leadership in the profession.  

A resident of the Lone Star State, Houstonian LaMonica Orr-Love proves that Texans don’t settle for small. After working as a corporate attorney and business management consultant for two Fortune 500 companies, and representing those companies in multimillion dollar transactions, she founded her own firm, the Love Law Group and Consulting Services. Love continues to build a track record of strategic thinking, effective leadership, and service to her community. 

Since earning her J.D., Love has received many top honors including the 2021 Houston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 recognition, and the Top 30 Influential Women in Houston and the National Bar Association’s Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 in 2019. She previously served as president of the Association of Women Attorneys – Houston (AWA), and earlier as president-elect, secretary and participated on the Judicial Nominations Committee of the AWA. She is a graduate of the Houston Young Lawyers Association Leadership Academy and is a 2019 Texas Bar Foundation fellow, a distinguished honor reserved for one-third of 1% of all attorneys in Texas. In addition to these accolades, she regularly shares her knowledge and expertise as a contributor on Fox 26 Morning News where she discusses legal issues surrounding technology and social media. 

Love graduated from the Project Blueprint Leadership Development Program through the United Way of Greater Houston, which is an intensive training on-board service and governance for minorities. Through the United Way she volunteered with THRIVE Family Stability Collaboration and the Bi-Annual Community Reinvestment where she made recommendations on the allocation process of over 17 million dollars of donations from corporations and individuals to non-profits in Houston. Currently, she serves as co-chair of the Houston Steering Committee for Annie’s List which recruits, trains and supports women candidates in the state of Texas.  

Last but not less, Love serves as the volunteer executive director for ProjectNEXT, the building expansion initiative for Harvest Point Fellowship Church, and as a member of Hope of Harvest, a nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship and business development in southeast Houston. 

If the last 13 years illustrate just the beginning for this young lawyer, watch out world! Her professional work and dedication to her community is truly inspirational.  

Volunteer of the Year: Honorable Anne Lamkin Durward ’95

Photo of Honorable Anne Lamkin Durward

The Volunteer of the Year recognizes a graduate who has demonstrated exceptional loyalty and commitment to Cumberland School of Law through volunteer service to the school. 

The Honorable Anne Lamkin Durward was appointed to the Jefferson County, Alabama, 10th Judicial Circuit Court in 2020. She serves in the Domestic Relations Division which handles cases that involve, among other things, divorce, custody, child support, alimony, property divisions, protection from abuse. Prior to taking office, Judge Durward was in private practice for 25 years.  

While managing a full practice, she was inducted as a judicial fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers and as a judicial fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), after having served as a fellow in both organizations for a significant number of years. She is currently serving as president-elect of the AAML Foundation. 

Locally, Judge Durward has served in leadership roles in the Birmingham Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham, the Birmingham Bar Foundation, and the Volunteer Lawyers Program of Birmingham. Recently, she was selected to be a fellow in the Alabama Law Foundation. 

While at Cumberland School of Law, she was the managing editor of the American Journal of Trial Advocacy. And her work at Cumberland did not stop as a student member of the trial journal. In fact, Judge Durward is still highly dedicated to Cumberland students by mentoring and coaching the National Moot Court Team. Her countless hours of work with our law students are an extremely valuable part of their legal education; it is training that enables the students to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom and equips them with confidence. 

Thank you, Judge Durward, for the many hours of volunteer service you gave to Cumberland, for the benefit of our law students.     

Friend of Cumberland School of Law: Howard P. Walthall

Photo of Walthall

 The Friend of Cumberland award recognizes a person, who though not a graduate of Cumberland School of Law, has contributed time and resources to enhance the quality of the law school and the educational experience of the students.

There is no substitute for recently retired Professor Howard P. Walthall.  Thousands of law students spanning 45 years in the classroom will remember his voice, enthusiasm and brilliance.  Walthall taught classes including Contracts, Bankruptcy, Taxation, Business Organizations, Equitable Remedies and Constitutional Law. The few students who did not have him as a teacher, will remember his inimitable eulogy of our only four-legged honorary graduate, Rascal.  

Walthall received his law degree from Harvard, but his love for Cumberland School of Law was evident. No one, but he and his colleague Professor David J. Langum Sr., spent as much time researching minute details about the birth and history of this law school. Together, they authored From Maverick to Mainstream: Cumberland School of Law, 1847-1997.   

Walthall has been our teacher, colleague, steadfast supporter, and truly a friend of Cumberland School of Law for almost 50 years. His recent retirement does not end date any of the above.  

For an eloquent tribute about Professor Walthall, written by Professor William G. Ross, please see the spring 2021 issue of Cumberland Lawyer magazine

 
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