March 12--  Twenty lawyers from the Leadership Academy of the Young Lawyers Division of the state bar spent nearly two days in Vidalia as part of the Academy's professional development efforts.


Toombs County Magistrate Judge Rizza O'Connor is the President of the Division this year and wanted her peers to get exposure to rural Georgia, "Seventy percent of the young lawyers are in the metro Atlanta area, so it's very rare to have a President outside of Atlanta, so I wanted to show these young lawyers the experience of being in a rural county and practicing in a rural county."

Before going on farm tours, the group heard from Vidalia native and the newest member of the Georgia Supreme Court, Justice John Ellington, who challenged them to become leaders, "I tell everybody all over Georgia that the quality of life depends on the quality of leadership. These young lawyers are the future leaders of our state, not just in the legal community, but statewide.  There are many avenues of service throughout the community.  Certainly there are elected positions, but there are many volunteer positions in our churches, civic clubs and courthouses."

One of the young lawyers, Ken Mitchell, Jr. has a Toombs County connection. He's the son of Ken Mitchell, Sr. of Lyons and the nephew of longtime Lyons city councilman Ben Mitchell.

He agrees with Justice Ellington that lawyers need to be leaders, "I think that's important because the state is growing and we've got so many different things that are changing.  In order to facilitate that change, we need competent, responsible people to help us bridge the gaps and to bring everybody to common ground.  In Georgia, we've got to figure out how we can all come together and compromise to get it right."

The lawyers also volunteered their time to help First Responders in the area with wills and estate documents.