UGA President Jere W. Morehead (second from left) and School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge (third from left) presented honors to: Young Alumni/Alumnae of Excellence Award winner Mercedes G. Ball (left) and Distinguished Service Scroll Award winners William Porter “Billy” Payne (third from right), Harold D. Melton (second from right) and Kathelen Van Blarcum Amos. UGA President Jere W. Morehead (second from left) and School of Law Dean Rutledge (third from left) presented honors to: Young Alumni/Alumnae of Excellence Award winner Mercedes G. Ball (left) and Distinguished Service Scroll Award winners Billy Payne (third from right), Harold D. Melton (second from right) and Kathelen Van Blarcum Amos. (Courtesy photo)

The University of Georgia School of Law used its alumni gathering this month to honor three legal luminaries and one up-and-coming young lawyer.

“I am tremendously pleased to be recognizing these four distinguished and accomplished individuals,” Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said in announcing the awards. “They are outstanding role models for our students as we prepare them to be leaders and demonstrate the value of serving their communities.”

Rutledge and University of Georgia President Jere Morehead presented the law school’s highest honor—the Distinguished Service Scroll—to:

  • Kathelen Van Blarcum Amos, former Aflac general counsel who was responsible for the insurance company’s public relations and media during the conception of the famous duck, and current president of the Aflac Foundation, leading the company’s founding family’s philanthropic endeavors;
  • William Porter “Billy” Payne—most famous for driving Atlanta’s campaign to host the Olympics in 1996 and the only person to lead a host city’s efforts from beginning to finish, from 1987 to 1997, who went on to become chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club and chairman of the real estate developer Centennial Holding Corp.; and
  • Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton, who formerly served as an assistant attorney general and executive counsel to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

At the same time, the dean and the president presented Mercedes Ball with the “Young Alumni/Alumnae of Excellence Award.” She is a 2009 UGA law graduate and now works to ensure attorney compliance with the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct as the Consumer Assistance Program assistant director at the State Bar of Georgia. Previously, she was a child advocate attorney at the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center.

“A trusted adviser of the law school as well as a senior Aflac executive for many years, Kathelen recently provided a transformational gift to support first-generation college graduates attending law school,” Rutledge said.

“Billy, who is world renowned for his decades of civic leadership, also supports a scholarship for deserving students at the law school,” Rutledge continued. “Chief Justice Melton, who has spent most of his legal career as a public servant, currently leads our state’s highest court and inspires our students by his example of public service. And Mercedes, who is in the midst of building her career, has already established her reputation as a selfless volunteer aiding those from underserved communities.”