Patrise Perkins-Hooker makes history as 1st black president, State Bar of Georgia (video)

Justice Robert Benham of the Supreme Court of Georgia administers the oath office to Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker, president elect State Bar of Georgia.
Justice Robert Benham of the Supreme Court of Georgia administers the oath office to Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker, president elect State Bar of Georgia.

It was just three years ago when rolling out announced attorney Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker was the first elected African American officer to serve the State Bar of Georgia, since its inception in 1883 as the Georgia Bar Association. Perkins-Hooker makes history again! On June 7, she was installed as its 52nd president, which makes her the first African American and the third woman to serve as the president of the State Bar. 

“It’s a truly awesome feeling. I am very appreciative of the fact my colleagues placed a lot of confidence and trust in my abilities to lead our professional organization. I am honored and humbled by this responsibility,” shares Perkins-Hooker when asked how it feels to wear this new crown.


What exactly is the responsibility that humbles Perkins-Hooker who also serves as vice president and general counsel for the Atlanta BeltLine Inc.? 

“The president of the Georgia Bar heads the mandatory professional organization of all 46,000 plus lawyers in the state of Georgia. This is the organization that regulates the practice of law, determines the fees that are to be paid by lawyers when practicing law and serves as a vehicle to discipline lawyers and protect the public from claims of violations of our rules. We also assist the public with disputes on fees,” she enlightens.  


During her one-year tenure as president, Perkins-Hooker is focused on three initiatives. “I am addressing the issue of access to legal services by indigents and marginally employed people. Some of those programs involve [simply] having lawyers throughout the state available to serve people. Right now, there are six counties without lawyers. The second component is to work with Bar task force to make sure we have funding in place to fully staff the legal aid, legal services program throughout the state. I will also work with lawyers to increase the amount of pro bono service they provide to our communities. In light of the recession, there are people who are unable to pay for basic life necessities let alone paying for additional legal fees.

“My second initiative is to reinforce and enhance the middle school Civics programs throughout the state. We are doing a pilot program with four school systems where we are introducing the iCivics computer software program developed by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, which teaches students how a Bill is passed, how to vote for people, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, [and] the three branches of government. With the cutbacks in education, Civics is one of those courses that was eliminated. We need our students trained on their basic rights as citizens in order for them to be effective citizens when they grow up. We are paying to train teachers the utilization of the program. Secondly, we are pairing lawyers with those teachers – modeled after Junior Achievement. 

“Thirdly, I am working to get the word out to our members what the bar is about, how to get engaged and to encourage people, from a diverse perspective, to become involved with the bar,” avers Perkins-Hooker who herself has served on the Board of Governors and Executive Committee of the State Bar and as secretary (2011-12), treasurer (2012-13) and president-elect (2013-14). She is also a past chair of the Bar’s Real Property Law Section, parliamentarian of the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board, and the founding chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-Q. She is also the chair of Hosea Feed the Hungry’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Atlanta BeltLine, where she is responsible for all legal matters including general corporate transactions, corporate governance, compliance and risk management and a wide variety of real estate-related matters including transactional work and negotiations, she was a partner with the law firm of Hollowell, Foster & Gepp, PC. Tasked with leading their Commercial Real Estate Group, she assisted businesses with the formation of their entities, contract negotiations and resolution of construction disputes, and provided oversight for various aspects of commercial real estate developments, acquisitions and land use matters. Also, she assisted with several major Atlanta BeltLine Project acquisitions in her private practice.

Perkins-Hooker is a graduate of Georgia Tech and the Emory University Law and Business Schools. She was admitted to the Bar in 1984.

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