Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes will host the School
of Law’s eighth annual EPIC Inspiration Awards. The ceremony
will be held at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, in the law school’s
Each year, EPIC (Emory Public Interest Committee)
honors outstanding attorneys who have demonstrated a strong commitment
to public interest law. This year’s
recipients are Bill Brennan Jr., director of the Home Defense Program of the
Atlanta Legal Aid Society; and Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.
Brennan has helped thousands caught in predatory lending schemes regain their
homes. Fletcher led the effort to improve Georgia’s indigent defense
Bill Rankin, staff writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also will receive
recognition with the Special Community Collaboration Award.
EPIC is a student organization that promotes law in the public interest, encourages
and helps Emory law students get jobs in public interest law practice, administers
and supports public interest programs at the law school, and promotes the professional
responsibility of lawyers and law students to make legal services more accessible.
Brennan (’67L), who will receive the Lifetime Commitment to Public Service
Award, has served for more than 35 years as a staff attorney at the Atlanta
Legal Aid Society, specializing in housing and consumer issues. He has spent
the last 12 years as director of the Home Defense Program. That department
provides referrals and legal representation to homeowners who have been victimized
by title conversion and home equity scams.
Most notably, Brennan helped change Georgia laws to address predatory mortgage
lending. As a result, a proposal to license and regulate mortgage brokers and
non-bank mortgage lenders was enacted into law. Brennan has served three terms,
from 1995 to 1998, as a member of the board of directors of the National Association
of Consumer Advocates.
Fletcher, who will receive the Outstanding Leadership in the Public Interest
Award, was sworn in as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia in June
2001. He first was appointed to the court in 1989 by then-Gov. Joe Frank Harris
and was reelected to a third six-year term in August 2002.
Fletcher began his law practice in Rome, Ga. in 1958 before moving to LaFayette.
While in private practice, Fletcher represented the state of Georgia as a special
assistant attorney general, and also served as LaFayette city attorney and Walker
County attorney. He continued his practice until his appointment to the state
Supreme Court in 1989.
Fletcher has a distinguished record of service to his community, earning the
Harold G. Clarke Award by the Georgia Indigent Defense Council for his commitment
to ensuring equal justice for all Georgia citizens.
The awards ceremony is EPIC’s major fund-raiser. Donations are used to
provide stipends for law students who pursue summer internships with public
Last year EPIC raised more than $64,000, which provided 17 grants. Students
worked at agencies such as Public Advocates in San Francisco, the ACLU of Georgia
and the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center in Denver.