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Birmingham Bar Association - Bulletin Fall 2017

Bar Foundation The Birmingham Bar Foundation Gets Rebellious Seminar Helps Young Professionals on their Justice Journey The Birmingham Bar Foundation captured an entirely new audience this summer--millennials. With a program called “Legal Rebels for a Cause”, the BBF participated for the first time in the Alabama Media Group’s Young Professionals Summit 2017. The BBF’s program seemed to fit in neatly with messaging heard at the Summit all day long: take risks, commit to what you are passionate about, and be the change you seek in the world. “When many young people decide that they want a career in the law, it is because they have a strong desire to advocate on behalf of others,” Nikki Tucker Thomas, BBF Executive Director said. “Our goal with this program was to help young professionals understand that they can have a career in the law that allows them to work on causes about which they are passionate.” “Legal Rebels for a Cause” featured four of Birmingham’s finest lawyers who were asked to share with 30-40 young professionals in the break-out session some of the twists and turns of their legal careers, and what made them so rewarding. Here’s a look at the four speakers: Steve Rygiel is the Director of the Aiding Alabama Legal Program at the Birmingham AIDS Outreach, a non-profit whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS in Alabama. Since taking this position in 2010, Rygiel has provided pro bono legal services to more than 800 HIV-positive Alabamians. Rygiel has degrees in Microbiology and English from Auburn University, a Masters of Arts in English from Auburn, and a J.D. from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. His work background is just as varied, having held jobs as a water analyst and a research technician in pathology, for example. For Rygiel, everything “clicked” when he got a law degree and started working for BAO. Kristina Scott is the Executive Director of Alabama Possible, a state-wide non-profit organization that works to remove barriers to prosperity through advocacy, education and collaboration. She has been with Alabama Possible since 2008. Before that, Scott served as Managing Attorney for External Affairs at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and then also worked in politics, doing communications and voter contact strategies for candidates and ballot initiative campaigns across the country. Scott studied history at the University of Florida and got her law degree from Emory University. She harnesses every skill she picked up along the way for her anti-poverty work. There are very few positions in the southeast quite like that of Lisa Borden’s. Borden is the pro bono shareholder at the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, where she has developed, grown and administered the firm’s pro bono programs. She described what it is like to be one of the few law partners in the country who are primarily dedicated to pro bono work. Borden was motivated by the very first pro bono work she ever did – a death penalty case. Today, a great deal of Borden’s work involves running regular legal clinics for the homeless in Birmingham, and more recently, fighting “debtors’ prisons”. Borden has a B.A. from the University of Central Florida and a J.D. from Emory University. A partner at the law firm Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff and Brandt, Kim West has Continued on page 21 24 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association - Bulletin Fall 2017
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