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Andrea La’Verne Edney has been sworn in as the first African-American woman, national president of the American Board of Trial Advocates

By Black Headline News

Andrea La’Verne Edney was installed as National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Andrea La’Verne Edney was installed as National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

DALLAS, Texas--Andrea La'Verne Edney was installed as National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates at the organization's annual National Board Meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Jan. 27. Ms. Edney was sworn in by the Hon. James E. Graves, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, who also served as a justice of the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

Ms. Edney has served in a number of ABOTA leadership positions throughout the years. At her law firm, she is the Chair, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee of Butler Snow in the Ridgeland, Mississippi office. Ms. Edney practices within the firm's pharmaceutical, medical device and healthcare litigation group.

In introducing Ms. Edney to the National Board, judges, and guests, Judge Graves described the new president as someone who is highly regarded in the legal field, has made tremendous strides in advancing the legal profession, and will be an exceptional leader in her role as the first African-American woman National President of ABOTA.

"I have known La'Verne since her law school days when she clerked for another judge down the hallway from my chambers," Judge Graves said. "She is relentless in her efforts to give back to her community. She is a mentor and friend to young attorneys, and she always achieves and accomplishes wherever she goes. Some people hold jobs. La'Verne excels at absolutely everything she does. Some people simply fly; La'Verne soars."

Prior to her being sworn in, Orlando R. Richmond, Sr., who serves as a member of Butler Snow's Executive Committee and Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, described Ms. Edney as a woman of firsts: In addition to being the first African-American woman National President of ABOTA, she was the first African-American from Mississippi inducted into the International Society of Barristers; the first African-American female from Mississippi inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; the first African-American female President of the Mississippi Bar Foundation; the first African-American female to serve as Chair of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership; the first African-American female to serve on the Board of Trustees of Mississippi College; and the first African-American female to serve on the Board of Origin Bancorp, Inc.

"La'Verne is accustomed to being a trailblazer. She is accustomed to being the representative for so many other qualified people who did not have an opportunity, and there could not be a better representative for ABOTA," Mr. Richmond said.

In her remarks to the National Board, Ms. Edney borrowed from Amanda Gorman, who was the youngest person to deliver a poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration.

"ABOTA, history has its eyes on us," Ms. Edney said.  "Let us continue to support and uphold our judiciary – speak when they are attacked and voiceless; continue the fight for the Seventh Amendment right to a civil jury; educate our children about America's civil jury system; provide educational materials to our teachers to pass on to our children; provide educational resources to our young and aspiring lawyers; continue to support diversity and inclusion in our organization and leave behind a country better than the one we were left with."

She added that she is grateful for those who came before her and encouraged her to take an active role in areas that she was passionate about.

"I stand on the shoulders of my family and friends and so many others who opened doors for people like me, who stood beside me and encouraged me to go for it, including those who were not afraid to get in the fight for equality and justice and inclusion," she said.

Since her induction into ABOTA in 2015, Ms. Edney has served on several committees and chaired or co-chaired programs that have had a broad impact, including serving as National Secretary of ABOTA, Chapter Relations (2020), Diversity of Membership (2016, 2017), Long Range Planning (2017), Membership (2017), Foundation Professional Development (2016) and Legislative (2016). She was appointed to the Executive Committee in 2020 and served as Co-chair of the Leadership Conference that year. She is a Senior Life Fellow of the ABOTA Foundation, which serves as the educational arm of the association. 

Ms. Edney is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the International Society of Barristers. In May 2022, Ms. Edney served as U.S. Delegate at The Forum on the Rule of Law at the U.S. Supreme Court, for which she co-authored a paper and spoke on Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Ms. Edney is called upon often to speak on topics addressing the unique perspectives women litigators bring to the profession. Most recently, in 2022, Ms. Edney spoke as a guest panelist on the topic "Hear Us Roar: Being a Female Litigator in a Male-Dominated Industry" at a conference in Palm Springs, California.

Additional recent recognition includes Capital Area Bar Association's Professionalism Award in 2021, Mississippi Women Lawyers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, and Mississippi College School of Law's Distinguished Alumni Lawyer of the Year in 2018. In addition to her professional involvement and recognition, Ms. Edney serves on numerous community boards and committees including the Board of Trustees of Mississippi College, Origin Bancorp, Inc.'s Board, the Magnolia Speech School Board, and Baptist Hospital Board of Regents, and she is a Past Chair of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Board.

Biloxi, Mississippi, Mayor Andrew Gilich issued a January 27 proclamation in honor of Ms. Edney's inauguration, and the City Council of Jackson, Mississippi, issued a proclamation in her honor by Council Member Aaron B. Banks.

She earned her B.S. from Alcorn State University and her J.D. from Mississippi College School of Law. Following law school, Ms. Edney clerked for the Hon. Leslie Southwick on the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

ABOTA is an invitation-only national association of 7,300 highly experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to civil jury trials. ABOTA's primary goal is to educate the American public about the history and value of the right to trial by jury, and it is dedicated to elevating the standards of skill, integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession.


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