Text of Dr. Godsey Presenting Meritorious Service Award to James A. Bishop
March 21, 2003

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(The following is the text from Law Day 2003 when Mercer President R. Kirby Godsey presented the Meritorious Service Award to James A. Bishop, Brunswick attorney and a Law School graduate, who currently serves as the Chair of the Mercer University Board of Trusteee and Chair of the Mercer Law School Dean Search Committee.)




It is my pleasure to present this year's Meritorious Service Award for service to the School of Law. Few gathered here can think of a graduate of this great Law School who has done more for his alma mater, his profession, his community or for his family than our friend, Jim Bishop.

Jim Bishop, in addition to being a great alumnus, has become a devoted friend to the wider endeavors of the University and to all of us associated with Mercer. He is always looking for ways to promote the University or to make Mercer a better institution. That is evident by his extraordinary efforts during the past few months of chairing the Law School Dean Search Committee. In addition, he also added, in December, the exceedingly important responsibility of Chairman of the Mercer University Board of Trustees.

Rather than regarding his position of Chair as an honor, it has become clear that Jim looks at his role as Chair chiefly as a responsibility. He knows that the Board is a strong, influential and important body who literally hold the university in trust. He has great respect for his colleagues on the board, and he enjoys their respect, but he is someone who will work constantly to make sure the Board's work during his chairmanship is effective and sound.

Jim is also known through the Brunswick/St. Simons area for his tireless work in community endeavors, church involvement and family commitments. The entire region benefits from his leadership and insight.

As his first law partner and close friend, Judge Anthony Alaimo, will attest, Jim is an outstanding attorney, earning the respect and confidence of his colleagues at the bar because of his vast legal knowledge and skills and the effective representation of his clients. He also has an uncanny ability to develop and nurture relationships with people from all walks of life. For Jim, everybody has a name. And he remembers the names of staff members in the hotels, waitresses in the restaurants and family members of colleagues. His thoughtfulness and courtesy are legendary.

When anyone examines Jim Bishop's professional and community achievements, his recognition for meritorious service becomes strikingly self-evident. But beyond the leadership he provides, the strong commitment he holds for his alma mater, and his unencumbered thoughtfullness, let me add a more personal word about the qualities that most signal, for me, his exemplary service and his extraordinary leadership as an alumnus.

During the past several years, I have had the opportunity to walk more closely with Jim Bishop. In my view, Jim is respected so highly as a professional, in part, because he respects so highly the profession of law itself. The profession is not a servant to him. He is a servant of the profession. He works and walks within the profession as a man of dignity, devoted to the truth and to the essential worth and dignity of the poeple he serves and represents.

And when we look into the prioroties and the values that sustain Jim Bishop, we find that he engages his responsiblilties of leadership with such effectiveness because of his bearing as a man of high principle, a man of unflinching integrity and a man who bears a special measure of grace.

In working with Jim Bishop, one soon discovers that Jim is always devoted to doing the right thing. He does not trade away his devotion to principle on the whim of argument or pretense. Perhaps Jim is a little old-fashioned, because you can put your entire weight on what he tells you and he expects of his peers nothing less. Jim Bishop esteems and embodies the value of ingegrity. Yet even beyond principle and integrity which so indelibly mark his work, we are especially proud of his selection for this award because Jim Bishop, above all else, is a gentleman practitioner of the law who bears within his relationships and his profession a special measure of grace. He possesses the courage not to be bound by the boundaries of his own self-interest and he embraces within his own life and priorities a commitment to the well-being of the people and the institutions who live and work within the circle of his influence. Jim cares deeply, and his thoughtful demeanor enables him not to be given to swift or rash judgments. He is given, instead, to the pursuit of understanding and to making decisions that will contribute to reason and good will. Jim Bishop is a professional within the law that brings great distinction to the profession. The University is profoundly enriched because he has given himself so generously to strengthen the future of Mercer University and the School of Law.

So, on behalf of my colleagues within the University community, it is my very special pleasure today to give the Mercer Law School Meritorious Service Award to a man who is making Mercer a better University, a distinguished leader and friend, Mr. James A. Bishop.

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