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State Bar Association Honors Pittsburgh Executive

STATE COLLEGE (March 13, 2000) -- The Pennsylvania Bar Association honored Allegheny County Bar Association Executive Director James I. Smith III for his commitment to the legal profession by presenting him with the third annual Arthur J. Birdsall Award during the 34th Annual Conference of County Bar Leaders (CCBL) held Feb. 25 in State College, PA.

The Arthur J. Birdsall Award, which is named for the PBA county bar services director who has served the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) for 29 years, is presented to a county bar executive who demonstrates the highest traditions of professional excellence, is committed to the success of his or her bar association and has enhanced significantly the stature of his or her bar association. Birdsall accepted the first award at the 32nd Annual CCBL.

“This award is designed to recognize those county bar leaders who go above and beyond what is expected,” noted PBA President Louis N. Teti. “The PBA is pleased to honor Jim Smith for his outstanding dedication to the legal profession.”

Allegheny County Bar Association President W. Thomas McGough Jr. said in his nomination letter that Smith has built “a unique and truly magnificent membership organization” during the past 37 years. “Jim’s success . . . stems most strongly from his ability to understand, and his willingness to assist lawyers on an individual basis,” he continued. “As a result of these efforts, the ACBA’s roots run strong and deep into our county’s legal profession.” McGough’s letter was accompanied by letters written by 17 past ACBA presidents, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District and the president judge of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

The ACBA commended Smith for the “astounding” growth of bar activities and public service programs under his direction. From developing Law Day celebrations with naturalization services to instituting the Minority Summer Internship Program to administering Project Challenge, which provides pro bono services to the poor, Smith has worked to help educate the community about the law, while improving the public’s perception of the legal profession and system of justice.

During his tenure, Smith helped to increase the bar association’s membership from 1,800 members in 1963 to the more than 7,000 members today. This “tremendous growth,” according to the ACBA, can be attributed to “Jim Smith’s ability to encourage participation through his personal example, responsiveness to member needs and tireless support of association leadership.” Under his direction, the ACBA now offers its members a lawyer placement service, continuing legal education courses, a technology training center, a law office management program and ACBA Services, Inc., which provides video and court reporting services. It also publishes the Pittsburgh Legal Journal, the official Allegheny County Court newspaper.

Smith, who has served as executive director of the Allegheny County Bar Association since 1963, is a past president of both the Pennsylvania and National associations of bar executives. He is the managing editor of the Pittsburgh Legal Journal and also is the director and first secretary for the Neighborhood Legal Services Association.