2019's Annual San Antonio Bar Foundation Gala was a rockin' good time and set quite a few records! The Rosenberg Skyroom was transformed into a 1960's British time-hop, where guests fully embraced this year's British Invasion theme. Attendees could look to their left or right and spot a tiara, a union jack bow-tie, a bewigged barrister, or even a chic fascinator!
Upon entering the blast from the past gala, members were greeted by her majesty, the Queen of England herself and her loyal Queen's Guard. Just a step past registration and guests found themselves in the middle of a bustling London city street, courtesy of Kim Tindall & Associate's selfie-booth!
In the main hall, attendees started off the evening with cocktails, butler passed hors d'oeuvres, and after perusing the silent auction items enjoyed an interactive Abbey Road photography station where they were prompted to "pick their favorite Beatle" and pose for their very own Abbey Road album cover.
San Antonio Bar Association (SABA) President Tom Crosley, started the benefit & awards program with a thank you to all of the guests and acknowledged the recently installed SABA Officers and Board of Directors.
The awards portion of the evening began with the 2019 San Antonio Young Lawyers Association (SAYLA) Awards, presented by SAYLA President Chris Mazzola. Judge Daniel Santander was recognized as Outstanding Mentor, Drew Galloway was awarded the Liberty Bell Awardfor his work with Move Texas, and Nick Guinn, SABA Board member, was recognized as the Outstanding Young Lawyer.
President Crosley presented Tim Patton with the Carolyn Thurmond Community Service Award, which recognizes a lawyer who has demonstrated outstanding service to the legal community. Patton received this award for his work resulting from his non-profit, The Appellate Immigration Project (AIP), which provides pro bono appellate representation to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Patton started AIP in March of 2017 due to a growing frustration with what he saw as a dysfunctional immigration asylum process, and it remains to this day the first and only non-profit of its kind in Texas.
Justice Beth Watkins of the Fourth Court of Appeals presented Shannon Sedgwick Davis with the Peacemaker Award, which recognizes an individual who has promoted non-violent resolutions to community conflicts. The award recognizes Davis' work as a human rights activist dedicated to deescalating world conflicts, ending mass atrocities and her efforts to bring international war criminals to justice. Between 2010 and 2017 Davis formed international alliances as CEO of Bridgeway Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to ending mass atrocities, in order to bring war criminal Joseph Kony to justice. While the primary goals was to try Kony before the International Criminal Court in Hague, the foundation's everyday work efforts and intervention programs to de-escalate the conflict resulted in weakening Kony's rebel army from a high of 3000 to 100 child soldiers by 2017. Davis has chronicled her work during this time in her recently released memoir: To Stop a Warlord, My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace.
The SABA Joe Frazier Brown, Sr. Award of Excellence was presented by former SABA President (1980-81), Art Bayern. The award acknowledges an attorney who exemplifies all that is good about the legal profession. The 2019 recipient, Emerson "Buddy" Banack, Jr. was recognized for his lifetime achievement of work as an attorney, mentor, advocate and role model. A short video tribute celebrating Banack's life highlighted the many aspects so many admired, and also provided a glimpse of the family man, husband and grandfather some may have been less acquainted with. Law school classmate and firm partner, Art Bayern narrated the video and noted that Banack "had the intellectual curiosity and aptitude for the law...[and the ability] to synthesize mountains of complex information and explain it to a judge and jury with poignant grace." A formidable opponent, all who knew Banack understood that would be a fair and clean fight as he was ethical to his core. His uncanny ability to connect with people was repeated frequently in nomination letters, many recounting the most impactful advice he gave was to make time for the joy of family and friends. Bayern recounts that Banack was " famously hard-working and still attended his children’s tennis matches, grandchildren’s cheer competitions and kept active through golf, skiing, and travel. In a time where work-life balance is touted as a value, yet often only billables are rewarded, Buddy gave permission to carve out balance."
Banack passed away shortly after he was informed that he was selected for the honor. His award was accepted by his wife, Rose Marie Banack and his son, attorney Emerson “Trey” Banack, III. The audience gave a standing ovation in loving memory of Emerson "Buddy" Banack, Jr.
At the end of the awards segment, Community Justice Program board member, Mary Stich, took to the stage to share a short video that celebrated the work of the pro bono project. Stich then kicked off a lively and wildly successful "Five in Five" campaign. With the help of CJP Chair Robert Soza and CJP Managing Attorney Sharon Breckenridge Thomas, in only five minutes raised over $27,000 for the Community Justice Program!
The entertainment segment began with the ever-talented Danielle King decked out in head-to-toe '60s fashion. King, familiar to Ethics Follies fans, sang a British Invasion medley that featured songs including "Downtown"and "Say a Little Prayer for You." Not to be outdone, SABA's very own President Crosley introduced the band for the night, all the way from Liverpool (Austin, TX) The Eggmen, by joining them as lead singer and guitar for a rendition of The Beatles "Back in the U.S.S.R." You didn't hear it from us, but it's rumored that Crosley has a standing invitation to play with the band anytime - he was that good!
The night ended with The Eggmen playing well into 11:00 p.m. and attendees dancing the night away. The 2019 SABF British Invasion Gala set several records. It is, to date, the highest amount raised during a Five and Five campaign. Also, SABF completely sold out table sponsors!
Be sure to keep an eye out starting in spring of 2020 for SABF's French Quarter themed-gala; if this year's gala was any indication, 2020 is going to be HUGE! To view all of the pictures from the fun night, click here.