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Dallas Bar Association

Jerry Alexander to be Inaugurated

as DBA's 107th President

   Jerry C. Alexander, the president
of Passman & Jones PC, will take the
reins as the 107th President of the
Dallas Bar Association on January 1,
2016. Mr. Alexander, a general busi-
ness litigator for more than 40 years,
has been active in the DBA since
the early years of his career, and has
steadily risen through the DBA's lead-
ership ranks since
he was elected to
the DBA board in
for his tall frame,
mustache,      and
twinkling blue eyes
framed by a shock
of white hair, Mr.
Alexander has led
the DBA's Finance
Committee, Judi-
ciary Committee,
Senior     Lawyers
Committee      and
the Judicial Polls
Study Committee.
He led the DBA's
Vision 2020 Com-
mission,   chaired   Jerry C. Alexander
the record-setting
2010 Campaign for Equal Access to
Justice, and played a key role in draft-
ing the Local Rules of Practice used
in Dallas County's Civil District and
County Courts at Law as the chair of
the local rules subcommittee of the
Judiciary Committee in the 1990s.
   Mr. Alexander plans to use his
term as president to involve more
people in the DBA's activities and
committee work. Many DBA mem-
bers may not know how great the
benefits are from participating in the
DBA's programs and committees, and
how renewing and fulfilling those
activities can be, he said. So many
lawyers went to law school with the
goal of helping others, and get a tan-
gible feeling of accomplishment from
participating in programs like the
Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
or LegalLine, contributing to build
a Habitat for Humanity house or
mentoring high school students and
young lawyers, he added.
   The Bar Association has so
many programs that really reach out
and help people, he said.
   In a speech nominating Mr. Alex-
ander to be the DBA's next president,
State Bar of Texas President Frank
E. Stevenson-a former DBA presi-
dent-called Mr. Alexander a bril-

liant and indefatigable leader who
has exercised a strong lifelong work
ethic to benefit the Dallas legal com-
munity through his service to the
   This commitment to hard work
lies at Jerry's core, Mr. Stevenson
said in his speech. It is who he is. In
fact, it is who he has always been.
   Mr. Alexander's fate may have
been sealed when his family moved
                 in 1951 from Oak
                 Cliff to University
                 Park. The    then-
                 5-year-old's   new
                 neighbors     were
                 Louise and Grier
                 Raggio-the     pio-
                 neering family law-
                 yers-who exposed
                 Mr. Alexander to
                 the world of law-
                 yers, judges, and
                 legal academics at
                 gatherings in their
                 home, and strongly
                 encouraged him to
                 become a lawyer.
                 As a child, he had
                 only a vague idea
                 of their work, but
                 the idea of becom-
                 ing a lawyer stuck
with him.
   Before he would become a court-
house regular, Mr. Alexander built
a resume with steady jobs starting
at age 12: working at a watermelon
stand on Hillcrest Road as the rind
boy, delivering newspapers, mow-
ing lawns, helping at the family farm
in Ellis County, substitute teaching,
bartending, construction work, oper-
ating a ride at Six Flags Over Texas,
and many more.
   After graduating from Highland
Park High School in 1964, he stud-
ied English and chemistry at South-
ern Methodist University, where he
was president of Phi Delta Theta
fraternity. He worked as a chemist
at an experimental farm run by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture and
worked as an aide for U.S. Represen-
tative Earle Cabell before returning
to SMU to study law.
   One of his earliest jobs paid big
dividends when Mr. Alexander was
a law student. Passman & Jones real
estate lawyer Jim Carmichael's father
owned the watermelon stand where
Mr. Alexander had worked summers
as a young teen, and recognized him
when he was recruiting on campus
at SMU. Mr. Alexander became one
              continued on page 10

Dr. Michael J. Sorrell to Receive

2016 MLK Justice Award

    I will need to hold my students close and tell them
that I love them every day. But I struggle with telling
them to have faith in a system that I know might very
well betray them one day. I will wonder how to tutor
them to find peace in places where there is none. And I
will have no idea how to teach them
to close their eyes and pray when I
close my eyes and all I see is Eman-
uel AME. Michael J. Sorrell, in
the aftermath of the murder of nine
parishioners attending a prayer ser-
vice at Emanuel African Methodist
Church in Charleston, South Caro-

   On January 18, 2016, the
Dallas  Bar   Association  will
honor Dr. Michael J. Sorrell,
President of Paul Quinn Col-
lege, as the 2016 recipient of the
Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice
Award. The annual award rec-
ognizes attorneys who embody     Dr Michal Sorrell
the principles and values of Dr.
King's life and legacy: justice,
compassion, and service.
   Dr. Sorrell epitomizes these values. He says
that he is motivated by his amazing wife and
two wonderful children, and that every day he
feels more blessed and inspired to honor them.
Professionally, he is most proud of his contribu-
tions to building a model for a truly great small
urban college. His goal is to make a down pay-
ment on perfect at Paul Quinn, a small liberal
arts college in an under-resourced area of South
Dallas. He says that something does not have to
be big to be complex, challenging, or rewarding.
This can work, he says. It is possible to take
students from an under-resourced community
and the challenges faced by those students, and
teach them to change their communities via a
quality education. Paul Quinn accepts both stu-
dents that other schools aggressively recruit and
those who have likely been overlooked. Dr. Sor-
rell's method is to create points of personal con-
nection and emphasize experiential learning.
Each student is required to work 10-20 hours per
week through Paul Quinn's Work Program. This
allows them to receive two forms of education-
academic and practical. Dr. Sorrell and the staff
at the College have arranged for corporate spon-
sors to make this possible in addition to provid-
ing opportunities on campus.
   Dr. Sorrell also cares about his students on a
truly personal level, and takes the time to know
them. He has raised monies for eyeglasses and set
up a travel fund. He acknowledges their strug-
gles, but does not compromise his expectations.
   Dr. Sorrell has received awards and honors
too numerous to list-from Washington Monthly's
America's 10 Most Innovative College Presidents
to Dallas Business Journal's Dallas' Forty under
Forty and Minority Business Leaders Award. He

has received both the President's and C.B. Bunk-
ley Awards from the J.L. Turner Legal Association
for his outstanding contributions to the Dallas legal
community. Under his leadership, Paul Quinn Col-
lege has also been awarded numerous honors and
recognitions, and has undergone a radical trans-
formation. Once a place of broken buildings, over-
grown and dying vegetation, and unmet expec-
               tations, it is rapidly becoming a
               model for urban higher education.
               It is also a place of transforma-
               tion-partnering with PepsiCo to
               dig up the football field and create
               an organic farm in a food desert.
               Staff and student-employees, who
               also learn business and marketing
               skills, operate the US over Me
               Farm. At least 10 percent of the
               produce is donated to neighbor-
               hood families and food banks. The
               rest is sold to the Dallas Cowboys,
               grocers, and restaurants to main-
               tain the operations.
                  Dr. Sorrell received his under-
               graduate degree at Oberlin Col-
               lege; his Ed.D. at the University
               of Pennsylvania; and his J.D. and
               M.A. from Duke. He received a
Sloan Foundation Graduate Fellowship and was a
Graduate Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy
School of Government. At every institute, Michael
was a leader. He was a special assistant in President
Clinton's Initiative on Race. He currently serves as
a trustee or director for numerous entities including
the College Board, Duke's Sanford School of Public
Policy and .SMU's Tate Lecture Series.
   The Dallas Bar Association is honored to pres-
ent Dr. Sorrell with this prestigious award for his
service to so many organizations, Paul Quinn Col-
lege, and the Dallas community. DBA President,
Jerry Alexander, is proud on both a professional
and personal level. I have known Dr. Michael Sor-
rell over 15 years, and he is a most worthy recipient.
Like Dr. King, he is a terrific motivator and educa-
tor, and he has been a great, positive influence on
many young people, including a young person very
important to me-my son.
   Dr. Michael Sorrell is a testament of the truth
of the axiom that history does not dictate destiny.
The young people who society has dismissed are
graduating from Paul Quinn and making valu-
able contributions to the Dallas community and
their families fueled by the vision and transfor-
mative inspiration provided by Dr. Sorrell.
   Please join us in thanking and honoring Dr.
Michael Sorrell at the Martin Luther King, Jr.
Justice Award Luncheon at noon on Monday,
January 18, 2016, at the Belo Mansion. Mem-
bers of the DBA and community are invited to
attend. To make reservations, contact Biri Avina
at bavina@dallasbar.org. A plated lunch will be
served at a cost of $14.95.                 HN

Dawn Fowler is a past co-chair of the DBA Publications Committee,
and is a solo practitioner specializing in family low. She can be
reached at dawn@dawnfowlerlaw.com.

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