Distinguished Attorney

2011 Distinguished Attorney

William Shelby McKenzie

William Shelby McKenzie primarily practices in insurance law, university law and litigation. Mr. McKenzie is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the LSU Law Center, having taught the course in Insurance Law since 1971 to over 3000 law students. He is also co-author of McKenzie and Johnson, Louisiana Insurance Law and Practice, 15 Louisiana Civil Law Treatise: Second Edition (West, 1986); Second Edition, 1996; Third Edition, 2006, with annual supplements and frequently cited in Louisiana decisions. He has served as an attorney, consultant, expert witness, mediator and arbitrator on insurance matters and frequently speaks on insurance topics at seminars. During his career, Mr. McKenzie has litigated hundreds of suits involving many issues such as insurance coverage, torts, product liability, contracts, mineral rights and discrimination. Mr. McKenzie is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and former President of the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel, Baton Rouge Bar Association, and the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center Alumni Board of Trustees. He was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America? and Louisiana Super Lawyers. Mr. McKenzie has been named the Best Lawyers' 2011 Baton Rouge Insurance Lawyer of the Year.

2010 Distinguished Attorney

Phillip A. Witmann

Phillip A. Wittmann is a partner at the law firm of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. He concentrates his practice in commercial litigation, class actions, toxic tort and products liability matters. He has extensive trial experience and maintains an active litigation practice.

Wittmann is a frequent lecturer at seminars conducted by the Louisiana State and New Orleans Bar Associations, Tulane University, and Louisiana State University on trial practice topics. He has served as a member of the Civil Rules Advisory Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and the House of Delegates of the Louisiana State and American Bar Associations. He is a Past President of the New Orleans Bar Association and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers. He also served as Chairman of the Louisiana State Board of Legal Specialization and is a former Chairman of the Louisiana State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Committee.

Wittmann is the 2008 recipient of the Louisiana Bar Foundation's Curtis R. Boisfontaine Trial Advocacy Award. He received his J.D. degree in 1961 from Tulane Law School where he earned the Order of the Coif and Law Review Honors.

2009 Distinguished Attorney

Charles S. Weems III

Charles S. Weems III is the President and senior member of the Alexandria law firm Gold, Weems, Bruser, Sues & Rundell, in which he has practiced since 1971, after beginning his career with the Stone, Pigman firm in New Orleans. He is a 1969 graduate of the LSU Law Center, where he was Editor in Chief of the Louisiana Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. He is a member of the LSU Law Center Hall of Fame, and was selected by the Board of Trustees of the Law Center as its Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2002.

Mr. Weems is a Board Certified Tax Attorney, having served as Chair of the Specialization Board (Taxation), and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He has also maintained a corporate practice and has been a frequent lecturer in certain areas of tax, corporate law and commercial litigation.

He was elected and served as President of the Louisiana State Bar Association in 1996-97, after serving on the Association's Board of Governors. He was recognized by the LSBA with its Distinguished Service Award in 1998, and was selected to receive the Curtis R. Boisfontaine Award in Trial Advocacy in 1999. Mr. Weems was twice elected Chair of the LSU (System) Board of Supervisors during his service on that board under five different Governors from 1991 through 2007.

He currently serves as President of the Louisiana State Law Institute, in which he has been active as a member of the Council since his election in 1985. He is also Chair of the England Economic and Industrial Development District (England Authority). A past President of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, and the founder and initial chair of the Central Louisiana Diversity Alliance, Weems is a current board member of the LSU Law Center Board of Trustees, the LSUA Foundation, and the Tiger Athletic Foundation. He is a past board member of numerous other charitable and civic organizations, including the Louisiana Bar Foundation.

2008 Distinguished Attorney

Edward J. Walters, Jr.

Edward J. Walters, Jr.

Edward J. Walters, Jr. is a 1975 graduate of the LSU Law Center. He has been a partner with the Baton Rouge law firm Moore, Walters, Thompson, Thomas, Papillion & Cullens since 1976. He was born in New Orleans and moved to Baton Rouge to attend college. He earned his B. S. in Accounting from LSU in 1969, served in the United States Air Force from 1969- 1973, and has lived in Baton Rouge ever since.

Mr. Walters is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and has been a Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist with the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1988.

He is an Adjunct Professor of law at the LSU Law Center where he and Mike Patterson jointly teach a year-long trial skills course, which they developed, entitled "Advanced Trial and Evidence Seminar." In the class, the students are divided into two law firms - one plaintiff, one defense - which take one case from initial client interview to the trial of the case before a real judge. He is a Past President of the Baton Rouge Bar Association and received its "President's Award" in 1995 and 1998. He has been the Editor of its monthly publication, Around the Bar, since its first issue over 24 years ago.

He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Louisiana Bar Journal, a member of the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee, Continuing Legal Education Committee and serves as a Hearing Officer with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.

He is a frequent lecturer and author on trial-related topics on a local, state and national level.

2007 Distinguished Attorney

Harry S. Hardin III

Harry S. Hardin III

Harry Hardin, a partner with Jones Walker, in the firm's Business & Commercial Litigation Practice Group, has been practicing law at Jones Walker since 1971. Mr. Hardin received his A.B. from Harvard University and his J.D. from Tulane University Law School. As a trial attorney, Mr. Hardin has handled hundreds of commercial cases in diverse practice areas including antitrust, transportation, insurance, contract, patent, trademark and copyright, intellectual property, legal and accountancy malpractice, judicial misconduct, class actions, and appellate law, and he has more than 60 reported decisions. He was trial and appellate counsel in a complex multiparty toxic tort class action which was tried for five weeks to jury verdict, and involved approximately 20 reported decisions during the 10-year span of the case. He has been retained by and regularly represents railroads, the gaming industry, the entertainment and music industry, health care providers, trade associations, telecommunication companies, computer software and hardware companies, domestic and international manufacturers, banks, and insurance companies. In addition to his broad spectrum of representation, Mr. Hardin frequently lectures on ethics and professionalism, and is a leader in the organized bar. He is Chair of the Louisiana Supreme Court Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee and was commended for his work by the Chief Justice before the Joint Session of the House and Senate of the Louisiana Legislature.

Thomas L. Lorenzi

Thomas L. Lorenzi

Thomas L. Lorenzi is a partner with Lorenzi, Sanchez & Barnatt, LLP in Lake Charles. He was born in New Eagle, PA and raised in the Monongahela Valley near Pittsburgh. Tom received his BA from Duquesne University, and his J.D. from Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1975. He was employed by the law firm of Hunt, Godwin, Painter and Roddy to practice criminal defense. At this time there was no indigent defense system in existence and Tom was willing to handle their appointed cases. He was anxious to defend those who most needed help. In addition to handling nearly 50 capital cases, with no death verdicts, Tom represented lawyers to bring about judicial and legislative reform of funding indigent defense and was a cofounder of public interest law firms to provide cutting edge capital defense (Louisiana Capital Assistance Center) and the closure of abusive juvenile prisons with long term reform of the juvenile justice system (Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana).

Tom's professional accomplishments have been recognized by numerous organizations. He is a Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers and was awarded the 2007 David Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award by the LSBA. He received the Sam Dalton Capital Defense Advocacy Award in 2000 and the Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award in 2003 from the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; the 2006 Professionalism Award from the Judge Albert Tate American Inn of Court; and he has been named to "Best Lawyers in America" and "Super Lawyers". Tom is a long time member of the LSBA House of Delegates, served on the Board of Governors and currently serves on the Legislation Committee. He is a former president of the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and SW Louisiana Bar Association. With his wife, Stephanie ("Frou"), and their son, Dan, they operate a cow/calf commercial cattle herd. Tom is a member of the Louisiana and National Cattleman's Association. Time permitting, Tom loves riding his Harley with his friends and son, especially at Sturgis, SD.

The Louisiana Bar Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity organized under the state of Louisiana.