Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

USM law fellowship honors Judge Lee as Distinguished Public Servant

July 18, 2007

A University of Southern Mississippi organization established to promote interest in careers in the legal profession has honored Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge L. Joseph Lee as the recipient of the 2007 Distinguished Public Servant Award.

Juris Sodalitas, a law fellowship at the University of Southern Mississippi, presented the award to Judge Lee on July 13 at a reception at the Mississippi Bar Convention in Destin, Fla. Juris Sodalitas Chairman Jim Warren, a Jackson attorney, made the presentation.

Judge Lee, who has served on the Court of Appeals since January 1999, and as a Presiding Judge since 2004, said he was truly honored to receive the award.

Dean Denise von Herrmann of the University of Southern Mississippi College of Arts and Letters, who attended the reception and award presentation, said, “Our university is fortunate to have so many alumni now serving as judges, district attorneys and lawyers. We are thrilled to recognize an alumnus of Judge Lee’s quality and high reputation.”

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr., a University of Southern Mississippi alumnus, was the first recipient of the Juris Sodalitas Distinguished Public Servant Award in 2006.

Juris Sodalitas’ purpose is to promote interest in careers in law and provide scholarships for students who wish to pursue law degrees after graduation from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Judge Lee has shared his experience and promoted the legal profession by mentoring students in both of Mississippi's law schools and by serving as a judge to moot court teams. He also taught business law as an adjunct professor at the Gulfport campus of William Carey College for four years.

Judge Lee attended the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey College. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from William Carey College in 1969. He is a 1973 graduate of the former Jackson School of Law, now the Mississippi College School of Law. The Mississippi College School of Law named Judge Lee as Lawyer of the Year in 2004.

He worked as a high school teacher and principal while attending law classes at night. He began practicing law in 1973.

He is the former owner of Baldwin-Lee Funeral Homes in Jackson and Pearl.

Judge Lee was born in Poplarville in Pearl River County and grew up in Lamar County, where he attended Purvis and Lumberton schools.