ALAJ Salutes...

Edwin Lamberth

MOBILE—The courageous actions of a grandfather had a profound impact on Edwin Lamberth’s life and his decision to become a lawyer.
 
Lamberth’s family left Virginia when he was 3 and the distance prevented him from spending much time with his grandfather, also named Edwin. When Lamberth returned to Virginia to attend college, his grandfather was ill but Lamberth was able to visit with him.
 
It was during those visits that Lamberth learned the impact his grandfather had on the schools and the city of Norfolk. His grandfather had been hired long ago as superintendent of schools, and he felt like the changes going on in the law required him to integrate.
 
“I’ve been told that one of the first things he did was hire white teachers to teach in black schools,” Lamberth said. “He thought that would be the path of least resistance.”
 
He was wrong. Although many of the teachers were pleased, “the powers that be” were not. But, he continued taking steps toward full integration until forced out of his job. He was later re-hired and continued his quest to bring equality to all the students in the city. For that, the local bar association, citing him for his leadership in “changing things through law and reason,” gave him its “Liberty Bell Award,” a prestigious award  for outstanding community service and commitment to freedom under the law.
 
“His story inspired me to become an attorney,” said Lamberth, who displays his grandfather’s award in his office, “It made me realize that the law can protect those who need help the most, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”
 
He and his father, also named Edwin,  followed in the senior Lamberth’s footsteps by choosing careers where they try their very best to help people.   Edwin’s father is a retired kidney doctor. “Unfortunately, kidney disease disproportionately hits the impoverished, so we ended up helping some of the same people” said Lamberth, who remembers his father’s late night hours and “circuit rides” to clinics in rural areas around Mobile County where his father primarily saw Medicaid and Medicare patients.
 
After graduating from the University of Virginia, Lamberth returned to Alabama and enrolled in Cumberland Law School.
 
After graduation in 1998, Lamberth clerked for Justice Champ Lyons, moved to Birmingham and practiced with Heninger, Burge, Vargo and Davis and was then wooed back to Mobile by the Cunningham Bounds firm.
 
During his career, Lamberth has tried and handled many personal injury cases, insurance fraud cases, and class actions. He was co-lead counsel in several class action cases in which the plaintiffs sued the country’s biggest automobile financing companies for charging African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates than whites. One of those resulted in a trial, making him one of few lawyers who has actually tried a class action. Through settlements and the trial, the lenders were required to change their lending practices. He was also involved in the case that ended immunity for state-employed physicians, like those at the University of South Alabama and UAB.   When asked, he said his father wasn’t bothered by the physician-immunity case because “he thought that everyone ought to be on the same, level playing field.” 
 
Lamberth also has a strong dedication to pro bono legal services. He is on the board and executive committee of the Mobile Volunteer Lawyer Program. His longest-running case, of which he is very proud, was handled on a mostly pro bono basis. In 2001,  on behalf of the Alabama River Alliance and the Friends of Hurricane Creek, he challenged a permit issued by ADEM with the goal of stopping a coal mine’s pollution in  Tuscaloosa County. The case has gone through every imaginable legal and environmental challenge, but his work resulted in a nationally-recognized victory in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, which is again being challenged in the Alabama Supreme Court. He did get put on the River Alliance’s board of directors.
 
Lamberth lives a fulfilled life inside and outside the courtroom. He and his wife, Kelley have three children: Key, 10; Libba, 7; and Win, 4. He and his wife teach Sunday School and he loves to fish, hike and fly. Of all of his hobbies, fishing is definitely his favorite.
 
“It is something that completely takes your mind off work, and better yet, it’s something that the kids truly enjoying doing with their Daddy” he said.
 
He also is on the ALAJ Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
 
We don’t have a “Liberty Bell” but we do have a “Champion of Justice” Award for Lamberth.