Statesboro lawyer Gerald Edenfield might just have had the perfect Father's Day. Not only was Edenfield sworn in as the president of the State Bar of Georgia this past Father's Day weekend at the organization's annual meeting, but he was also in the audience when his daughters, Sharri Edenfield and Kristie Edenfield, received and accepted awards respectfully for their work in the young lawyers division of the Bar.
"It has been a dream come true to have my daughter Sharri come from Atlanta to practice law with me," Gerald Edenfield said. "And then to have my brother, Avant (Edenfield) swear me in and see my children accepting awards was just unimaginable."
What makes Edenfield's election as bar president amazing is the timing in which he was elected. Statesboro lawyer Jimmy Franklin served as president of the Georgia Bar during the 2001-2002 term. Franklin was the first and only bar president from Statesboro until the election of Edenfield just four short years after Franklin's term ended.
Cliff Brashier, executive director of the State Bar of Georgia, said the election of Edenfield so closely after Franklin was unusual.
"Gerald and Jimmy have both spent much of their careers serving the Bar in capacities other than president," Brashier said. "Although we have had multiple presidents from smaller towns, two presidents from the same small town have not served in such close proximity. It's a nice coincidence that Gerald's presidential term followed closely behind Jimmy's."
Edenfield was on the move shortly after taking his oath. I spoke with him briefly this past week as he attended the annual meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association.
"Georgia has the fifth largest Bar in the United States and one of the most active," Edenfield said. "It has been a humbling experience for me to be chosen to lead this group. I want us as a group to really accomplish some things this year, so we have quite an agenda before us."
Edenfield said the Bar will focus on getting rid of false and misleading advertising, supporting judges on their impartiality, and providing a system of pro bono legal advice for those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer, but need simple, basic legal questions answered.
“Being a lawyer and practicing law in Bulloch County, where I was raised, is a dream come true for me," Edenfield said. "I dedicate my term as president to mobilizing the State Bar to educate the public about what lawyers and judges do and why it is important. Our justice system is the foundation on which the principles of liberty and justice stand, and we must make sure that it never falters.”
Edenfield, managing partner of Edenfield, Cox, Bruce & Classens, was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1970. He previously served as secretary of the State Bar, as well as on its legislative committee and board of governors. He is also a member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2005 he was recognized by Atlanta Magazine as the Georgia “Super Lawyer” in litigation.Edenfield's brother is B. Avant Edenfield, a senior district judge in the United States District Court, Southern Georgia. Sharri Edenfield is a lawyer in her father's firm, and Kristi Edenfield is a lawyer in the Savannah law firm of Hunter Maclean. The Edenfield's other child, Gerry, attends the University of Georgia, and according to his father, is contemplating going to law school. Edenfield is married to Sharon Edenfield. The State Bar of Georgia, created by order of the Supreme Court of Georgia in 1964, is a mandatory organization composed of more than 38,000 lawyers licensed to practice law in Georgia.