Mississippi Bar Executive Larry Houchins Honored With Bar Executive Award
Larry Houchins, executive director of The Mississippi Bar, is the 2011 recipient of the National Association of Bar Executives’ Bolton Award for Outstanding Bar Leadership. The Bolton Award is NABE’s highest accolade and recognizes the exceptional professionalism and achievement of a bar executive. It is named in honor of the late Fred Bolton, executive director and secretary of the Pennsylvania Bar Association from 1966 until 1977.
A Vicksburg native and former executive director of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, Houchins was hired as the executive director of the Mississippi Bar in 1980. With more than 30 years of service, Houchins has become the longest-serving executive director in the bar’s history. Milestones during his tenure include the construction of the Bar Center, creating practice sections, successfully petitioning the Supreme Court for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education and the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts Program, establishing the first statewide pro bono project (now the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project), and forming the first consumer assistance program in the country, an initiative that has been replicated by several other bars.
Houchins also created the Commission on the Courts in the 21st Century that led to the passage of the Court Improvement Act of 1993 and staffed a full-time lawyers and judges assistance program. Houchins’ reputation as a confidant, counselor and leader was further solidified while overseeing the bar’s efforts to provide assistance for Gulf Coast lawyers ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to a colleague, “his quiet leadership in the Katrina disaster relief and recovery effort was an example of how a professional executive director rises to the occasion.”
According to one past Mississippi Bar president, “Larry has been the primary stabilizing influence which guided the bar in its growth and development.” Another former president attests to Houchins’ leadership and management style saying that, “for the past 30 years, Larry has made our bar a model for other states to aspire to achieve. Larry loves people and has great judgment. He hires only exceptional staff and then trains them by example.”
A frequent NABE program participant, Houchins has chaired several NABE committees. He is also active in the Mississippi Society of Association Executives, where he served two terms as president and received the organization’s Outstanding Association Executive Award in 1992.
The Bolton Award will be presented at the Joint Luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, NABE and the National Conference of Bar Foundations, Aug. 5, at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto.