“This resolution expresses our appreciation to Professor Roy Sobelson for his many contributions, which will have a lasting, positive impact on the legal profession and the justice system of this state,” said Brian D. “Buck” Rogers, 2017-18 State Bar president.
“It’s a little embarrassing to be honest, but I appreciate it,” Sobelson said, who describes his career as rather serendipitous with one thing leading to another. Or, as a friend noted, his career might just be the result of Sobelson always replying “yes” when asked to do something.
Joining the Georgia State Law faculty in 1985, Sobelson has served as professor of law, associate dean for academic affairs and director of the LL.M. program. He has been involved continually with the State Bar, which began when Sobelson was asked to audit the disciplinary counsel and to train lawyers in that office in litigation and ethics.
Early on, he was asked by a Supreme Court Justice to be a special master, agreeing before finding out how difficult the case would be. He’s been a reporter for several commissions, including one studying rules allowing lawyers trained in other countries to practice here, valuable experience for Georgia State Law when creating its LL.M. program.
One of the things of which he is most proud is the process he instituted at Georgia State Law, now used statewide, for ensuring students are truthful, especially about any criminal record, on law school applications.
Some violations are so serious that, if the student is candid on the application, admission would be denied. At the point of applying for the bar exam, students realize they must be honest. But in doing so, they risk being refused.
Now at orientation, Sobelson or the current associate dean for academic affairs guides students through the two-page document he developed, giving them another opportunity to answer questions truthfully. They must sign the document in his or the associate dean for academic affairs’ presence.
“We reinforce the very first day that they had better get this right. If they don’t, there will be consequences,” Sobelson said. “We’ve had to rescind some admissions, but its better in the long run for everyone. The State Bar and numerous others have told me, in embarrassing fashion, how thankful they are we’ve done this because it reduced their work.”
Only days into retirement Sobelson got something else just right. He and his wife took their 8-year-old grandson to his first Braves game. His grandson made a sign: “My First Braves Game.” Of course, the grandparents made one also: “Our Grandson’s First Braves Game.”
The cameras found them. They appeared on the big screen. “He was over the moon,” Sobelson said.
Photo by Sarah I. Coole, State Bar of Georgia