Henry A. Callaway ’83, a partner in Hand Arendall in Mobile, Alabama, has received the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award, the ABA’s most prestigious award for public service. Callaway is the first Alabama lawyer to receive the Pro Bono Publico Award, which the ABA awards to five recipients each year. He will be honored at the ABA’s 2011 meeting in Toronto on August 8.
Callaway was recognized for his innovative work at both the local and state levels to increase access to justice in Alabama.
Callaway became president of the pro bono committee of the Mobile Bar Association (MBA) in 1996, a post he held for seven of the next 12 years. During his tenure, he transformed the MBA’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) into a highly successful program in which 67 percent of local attorneys now participate. Through a series of recruitment campaigns and recognitions, he enlisted the strong support of the Mobile legal community and judiciary. Callaway persuaded his firm to become 100-percent volunteer lawyers and lobbied other firms to do the same. He oversaw the VLP’s conversion to a non-profit corporation and its admission to United Way. When a survey showed only 20 percent of Alabamians knew of the existence of free legal services, Callaway developed a public awareness campaign that included television and radio ads, posters, billboards, brochures and a promotional DVD.
At the state level, Callaway spearheaded the development of user-friendly pro se forms in many areas of the law, including consumer matters and family law. He heads a state bar committee that is working to revise Alabama’s court rules to make it easier for lawyers to represent low- or middle-income clients on a limited scope, low-fee basis. He also worked with heads of Birmingham’s bar association to help that city revitalize its volunteer lawyers program.
As a result of the depth and breadth of his pro bono work, Callaway was named Alabama’s 2010 Volunteer Lawyer of the Year by the state bar association. He currently serves as chair of the Alabama Access to Justice Commission and as president of the Mobile Bar Association.
Callaway recalls taking clinical courses at Vanderbilt from Professors Andy Shookhoff and Sue Kay in which he did his first work for actual clients. “I saw what an impact a little bit of legal help could have on a low-income person,” he said. He says he volunteers because he finds the work personally rewarding. “I don’t sell pro bono as a burdensome moral duty, but as something lawyers will enjoy that will make them feel good about their chosen profession,” he said.