The Dallas Bar Association (DBA) will present the Martin Luther King Jr. Justice Award to Al Ellis (pictured), of counsel at Sommerman & Quesada, on Jan. 21 during the annual MLK luncheon at the Belo Mansion.
“It’s probably one of the best honors I’ve ever had,” Ellis says.
Ellis says that during his term as the Dallas Bar Association president in 1990, the board agreed, at his suggestion, to make the presidents of the minority bar associations in Dallas voting members, not just ex-officio members, of the DBA. Working with minority bar association members, the DBA board also mapped out goals for a five-year plan to increase inclusion, Ellis says. One goal of that plan was to increase minority involvement in the DBA, he says.
Another goal, Ellis says, was to start an MLK celebration in Dallas. He says the celebration began in 1991 with an evening candlelight ceremony, which has evolved into the annual luncheon that now marks the event.
Ellis says the MLK award usually goes to an African-American. He says the fact that he has been named the recipient for 2013 shows that progress is being made toward inclusion.
“It’s recognition that Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero to a lot of us,” he says.
Ellis received his law degree in 1971 from Southern Methodist University School of Law. He says he entered law school after serving as a U.S. Army Airborne infantryman from 1965 to 1969, including a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam.
— Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.