Several Mercer University School of Law alumni have established a fund for the school’s trial advocacy programs that honors two of its most accomplished graduates, Griffin Bell and Frank Jones.
Mercer Law also is naming its first-floor courtroom after Bell and Jones. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will make the keynote address for the dedication on March 11.
“Griffin Bell and Frank Jones are Mercer legends,” said the university’s president, William Underwood, in a statement. “They stand among the finest lawyers in the history of American jurisprudence.
“I am grateful to their former colleagues, great lawyers in their own right, and fellow law alums Dwight Davis, Paul Quiros and Doc Schneider for establishing this endowment to benefit future Mercer lawyers,” Underwood added.
The Griffin B. Bell and Frank C. Jones Fund for the Enhancement of Advocacy Education and Programs will support Mercer Law’s moot court, mock trial and negotiation teams by funding events, personnel, travel and other expenses for students’ trial advocacy endeavors.
Mercer Law Dean Cathy Cox declined to disclose the amount of the fund, which other donors have also contributed to, but she called it “significant and generous.”
Davis, Quiros and Schneider, like Bell and Jones, are alumni of King & Spalding as well as Mercer Law.
Davis, now the trial practice coordinator for Mercer Law, in a statement called Bell and Jones “titans of the trial bar for more than 50 years and the epitome of the ethical servant leaders that Mercer strives to produce.”
Bell, who received his law degree in 1948, was a leader at King & Spalding as well as Mercer, where he was a life trustee before his death in 2009. He became a partner at the firm after serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and then as U.S. attorney general under President Jimmy Carter. Bell started King & Spalding’s special-matters team, which has grown into a nationally known white-collar defense practice, and in 1979 opened its Washington office—the first outside its Atlanta base.
Jones, who graduated Mercer Law in 1950, practiced at Macon firm Jones, Cork & Miller, founded by his great-grandfather, then joined King & Spalding in 1977, where he led the litigation department. Jones retired from the firm in 2001 and returned to Jones, Cork & Miller, where he practiced until his death in 2012.
“Those of us who were fortunate to serve with and learn from these two giants felt it was most fitting to name the main courtroom at the law school in their honor,” Davis said. “It is our hope that future generations of lawyers will be inspired by the lives of Griffin Bell and Frank Jones and follow in their footsteps.”
The private courtroom dedication ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. on March 11. All seating in the Griffin B. Bell and Frank C. Jones Courtroom is reserved, but the law school will provide a live video stream to an overflow room for other attendees.