ALBANY -- The year as president of the State Bar of Georgia for former Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges was a busy one with accomplishments that affect the public at large as well as lawyers.
Hodges, an Albany native, was sworn in as a member of the Georgia Court of Appeals in January and ended his one-year term heading the State Bar on June 8.
“When you’re the bar president you don’t know that’s going to happen, especially dealing with the legislature,” Hodges said during a Friday telephone interview with The Herald. “Thankfully, we didn’t have any controversial issues come up, which allowed us to get our entire legislative agenda through.”
Hodges said he considered his biggest accomplishment getting the conversation going about a proposal to require all private attorneys to carry liability insurance. Most do, but clients of those who do not are at risk in cases involving legal malpractice.
“We’re going to continue pushing that,” Hodges said.
Hodges also helped get the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and lawyers, groups that traditionally have an adversarial relationship, to agree on the establishment of a statewide business court system.
“We were able to come to the table with an issue both could agree on,” Hodges said. “If someone in a small rural county, or Albany even, has a business dispute put on the trial calendar, it can languish for years. A business can die quickly if the issue before the court is not addressed in a timely manner.”
Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment in November to establish the business court system, and the Georgia General Assembly approved legislation doing so in April.
Lastly, Hodges pointed to support for electronic – or e-filing – of court documents statewide.
“That has been a really good thing,” he said. “There were times when people had to drive to Atlanta” to file a case.
Hodges, who won a statewide election in May to the Court of Appeals, will remain on the bar executive committee for a year, where he will continue to work on some of those issues.
“I think it was a great year,” he said of his time as president of the organization.