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Oak Ridge Lawyer Named Public Service Attorney of the Year
Award presented to Neil McBride at luncheon ceremony
NASHVILLE, Feb. 9, 2011 -- Oak Ridge lawyer Neil McBride was honored as the state's top public service attorney by the Tennessee Bar Association at its recent public service luncheon. Held each year as part of the association's Leadership Conference, the luncheon featured award winners in several categories and a keynote address by American Bar Association President-elect William Robinson of Cincinnati.
McBride was named the 2010 Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award for his career-long dedication to providing legal services to the poor. After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1970, McBride joined the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council in Atlanta where he worked to involve law students in civil rights and public interest activities. He then joined the Aviation Consumer Action Project where he served as a staff attorney. From there, he created a public interest law firm in Tennessee's Appalachian coal fields, seeking to improve opportunities for women in the coal industry. Then in 1978 he founded and became director of Rural Legal Services of Tennessee, a position he held until the agency was merged with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in 2002. McBride currently serves as general counsel to the Legal Aid Society and managing attorney of its Oak Ridge office.
In 2009 President Barack Obama nominated McBride to a seat on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors. The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment in September 2010.
McBride also has been active in the legal community. He is a member of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services Board of Directors, a member of the Tennessee Bar Association's House of Delegates, and a former member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense.
In nominating McBride, Dave Yoder, executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, said, "Neil has been a fixture in the civil justice struggle in Tennessee for decades. I don't know that there is anything related to legal aid that he has not done and done exceedingly well." In reflecting on his years of service, McBride says, "People who work for legal aid have the best job in the profession. We get paid to bring people justice. And that's something that is unusual in our society and economy."
The Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award is given annually to an attorney who has committed to a career in public service, and over the course of that career, has gone above and beyond the call of duty in representing indigent clients. The award is named for Nashville lawyer Ashley Wiltshire, the former executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, who faithfully served the agency in various roles for 37 years.
Mr. Wiltshire was on hand to present the award.
The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 11,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA’s dedication to serving the state’s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.