State Bar Of Georgia’s YLD Earns Top Awards

Proud Georgia young lawyers take home top awards for the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Pictured left to right: Daiquiri Steele, Jennifer Campbell Mock (YLD President-Elect), Sharri Edenfield (YLD Immediate Past President) and Heather Riggs.PHOTO COURTESY OF STATE BAR OF GEORGIA

ATLANTA—The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia received the 2014-15 Outstanding Service to the Public Award, one of two awards presented to YLDs from states of all sizes, for its Military Support Initiative. The award was presented Saturday during the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA) in Chicago.

The Georgia YLD also received four first place awards within its division for Service to the Bar for its Succession Planning Pilot Program, for Service to the Public for the Military Support Initiative, for Best Newsletter and as Overall Comprehensive Best YLD.

Additionally, the Georgia YLD received Special Recognition in the Diversity Project category for its Plessy v. Ferguson Continuing Legal Education (CLE) session at its Spring Meeting in New Orleans. The Georgia YLD was thus recognized in all five ABA award categories in Division 1A, which includes the state YLD affiliates with the largest memberships (more than 8,000 young lawyer members).

“This is a record number of ABA awards earned by the Georgia YLD in one year, and I want to thank all of our officers, directors and State Bar staff for their contributions toward this success,” said 2014-15 Georgia YLD President Sharri Edenfield. “Special appreciation goes to Kristie Edenfield Piasta, Edward Piasta, Quentin Marlin and Katie Sullivan Dod, who headed up our Military Support Initiative; to Josh Bosiin, chair of our Long-Range Planning Committee, and Stephanie Powell, associate dean of the Mercer Law School Career Services Office and chair of our Succession Planning Program Committee; Rizza Palmares O’Connor and Yari Lawson, co-editors of our newsletter; and Avarita Hanson, executive director of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, and Morgan Clemons, co-chair of our Minorities in the Profession Committee, who organized and moderated our Plessy v. Ferguson CLE session.”

The Georgia YLD’s Military Support Initiative provides support to Veterans Affairs Legal Clinics, training for veterans issues, law school mentoring programs and the Augusta Warrior Project, a nonprofit with a mission to connect service members with resources to improve their lives. The Succession Planning Pilot Program seeks to connect Georgia attorneys who intend to transition out of full-time practice with new attorneys and recent graduates who may be interested in succeeding the attorney. The Georgia YLD’s newsletter, The YLD Review, is published quarterly.

The YLD is comprised of approximately 10,000 lawyers admitted to the State Bar of Georgia who are 36 years old or younger or who have been admitted to their first bar no more than five years. The YLD has been strengthened over the years through guidance by the State Bar of Georgia, its Executive Committee and Board of Directors, the Supreme Court, and through dedicated service rendered by its members. In keeping with its motto of “working for the profession and the public,” the YLD has more than 30 hard-working committees that produce an array of projects and programs. Through the years, the YLD has also gained national recognition by winning several American Bar Association awards for its projects and publications.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

APS Developing Aggressive, Targeted School Turnaround Strategy

ATLANTA—Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is developing an aggressive, targeted strategy for turning around schools and responding to the proposed Opportunity School District (OSD). The OSD is Governor Nathan Deal’s proposal that authorizes the state of Georgia, pending voter approval in November 2016, to take control of chronically low-performing schools across the state.

APS has taken some important first steps toward turning around underperforming schools and responding to the OSD including securing the support of a collaborative of Atlanta-based education funders to engage strategy consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to work directly with APS in developing the district’s OSD strategy.

To keep key stakeholders engaged and informed in this decision-making process, APS will collect feedback from its teachers and principals, and parents in its most challenging schools. This eight-week intense BCG strategy project kicked off this month and includes a robust community engagement component that will consist of surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, and a community School Turnaround Strategy Advisory Committee to help inform the district’s approach.

“I am very appreciative to have the ongoing support of local foundations that continue to believe in our schools,” said Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen, superintendent of APS. “It is our hope that if we follow our school improvement plans and implement a strong turnaround strategy with fidelity, then state intervention under the Opportunity School District will be unnecessary.

Additionally, the district has made a series of strategic hires to support the turnaround of underperforming schools including contracting Erin Hames, the architect of Governor Deal’s proposed OSD legislation passed by the state legislature this past session, to inform the district’s school turnaround strategy.

There are 26 APS schools that meet the current OSD criteria, and there are a number of other schools at-risk of eligibility, either because they have one or two years of College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) performance below 60 and/or they have historical CCRPI performance close to 60.

APS is undertaking an aggressive, targeted strategy to improve schools that have been identified eligible or at-risk for state takeover by the proposed OSD. The district is in the process of analyzing data, reviewing the challenges faced by each school and community, and assessing the trends in student performance. The plans for each school will be focused on the unique needs of the particular school and community. The APS strategy is early in its developmental stages and is informed by case studies of turnaround efforts across the country.

In addition to developing a longer term strategy, APS has reorganized the Office of Curriculum & Instruction to build capacity and leadership to support schools, accelerate the pace of improvement and enhance the depth of support to students.

If voters approve the OSD, the state would likely start taking over schools beginning in the 2017-18 school year, and the schools selected would be based upon CCRPI data from the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. At this time, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement defines “failing” as a CCRPI below 60. An eligible school is one with a failing score for three consecutive years. In addition to the qualifying score, takeover decisions also will take into account growth in achievement, recent changes in district and/or school administration that suggest improvement, and current turnaround and intervention efforts underway in a qualifying school.

APS firmly believes that together with dedicated stakeholders, a path forward can be found to ensure community schools remain APS schools.

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 106 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Georgia’s Unemployment Rate Declines To 6.0 Percent

ATLANTA—The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July was 6.0 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 6.1 percent in June. The rate was 7.2 percent in July 2014.

“It’s been more than seven years since Georgia’s unemployment rate was this low, and the credit belongs to our employers who continue to create jobs and put people to work,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “In July, we had 89,400 more jobs than in the same period a year ago.”

The number of jobs in Georgia increased to 4,252,200 in July, up by 4,600, or 0.1 percent, from June. The growth came mostly in local government, 4,300; professional and business services, 3,100; retail trade, 2,800; and leisure and hospitality, 1,700. The overall increase was offset somewhat by job losses in state government, 2,400; educational services, 2,100; and finance and insurance, 1,100.

Over-the-year, the number of jobs in Georgia grew by 2.1 percent, from 4,162,800 in July 2014. The national job-growth rate was also 2.1 percent. Most of the job growth in Georgia came in trade, transportation and warehousing, 32,200; leisure and hospitality, 20,300; professional and business services, 20,200; health care and social assistance, 14,100; manufacturing, 4,400; financial activities, 2,900; and construction, 400. Government lost 2,800 jobs.

“I encourage job seekers and employers to use EmployGeorgia, our new job listing service, where more than 77,000 job openings in Georgia were posted in July,” said Butler. Visit to learn more about EmployGeorgia and to post or search for jobs.

While the rate declined in July, the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance rose by 2,868, or 8.8 percent, to 35,487 in July. Most of the increase was due to temporary claims filed in manufacturing and administrative and support services, which includes temporary employment agencies.

Over the year, claims were down by 7,171, or 16.8 percent, from 42,658 filed in July 2014. The decline came mostly in manufacturing, administrative and support services, health care and social assistance, and accommodations and food services.

From June to July, the state’s labor force decreased by 15,831 to 4,744,280, but it remained higher than in July 2014, when it was 4,735,848.

To learn more about the services of the GDOL, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter @GeorgiaDOL, which can be easily accessed via our website at

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *