Luther J. Battiste, III was inspired at a very young age to be a lawyer by legendary federal Judge Matthew J. Perry.
“I observed Matthew J. Perry working as the premier civil rights lawyer in South Carolina and had the opportunity to hear him speak,” Battiste says. “Judge Perry endured scorn and mistreatment from judges and other lawyers but, persevered to be a social engineer in the courtroom for change in the legal system.”
Battiste has spent the past four decades continuing his mentor’s fight for change in the legal system. Recently he was honored for success in those endeavors, with the National Bar Association’s (NBA) Civil Trial Advocacy Trial Master Award for his efforts as a trial lawyer and a champion of justice and the American jury system.
“As an African American attorney, it is a special distinction to receive such a high honor from such a distinguished organization which has an elite pool of great lawyers to choose from,” said Battiste.
Battiste has had an impressive career as a 40-year member of the NBA and served as chair of the Civil Trial Section for a number of years. In the community, he served 15 years as a member of the Columbia City Council, including two terms as Mayor Pro Tempore. He is also known for his many “firsts” as he made history as the first African American National President of American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and was one of the first two African Americans elected to the 1983 Columbia City Council since Reconstruction.
“I have tried, in my practice and in my community endeavors, to produce positive change. I hope that my legacy will be of a lawyer who worked hard, practiced law the correct way and who worked to set a positive example for a new generation of lawyers to do good work and be social engineers for positive change,” Battiste said
The NBA was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of more than 65,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The NBA has 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and the world.
Battiste received his award, considered a “lifetime achievement award,” virtually on July 25 during the Civil Trial Advocacy Master Class program where the group highlighted his work to promote the right to trial by jury and upholding integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession.