NASHVILLE, TN (TN Tribune)—Memphis attorneys AC and Ruby Wharton will be honored next week with the presentation of the TBA YLD Fellows William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award.
“AC and Ruby Wharton are the embodiment of excellence in service to the profession, the legal system and our community,” Fellows President and Memphis attorney Danny Van Horn says of the pair. “Each has contributed in their own way to the life of our profession, our community and the people we serve. They are the embodiment of 1+1 can equal 3.”

AC Wharton built a distinguished career in public service and education, moving to Memphis to serve as executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services before later being appointed Shelby County’s Chief Public Defender. During that time, he also served as a law professor at the University of Mississippi, the first time an African American had held that post.

His career in public service continued in 2002 when he was elected as the first African American mayor of Shelby County, and in 2009 when he was elected mayor of Memphis, a position he held until 2015.
Ruby Wharton has had an equally impressive impact on the communities she has served. After beginning her career as an attorney at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, DC, she went on to serve as a public defender prior to going into private practice. At the Wharton firm, she has produced a 40-year track record of excellence in representing individuals in wills and estates, personal injury, medical malpractice, conservatorships, guardianships and powers of attorney.

On the civic level, Ruby has made an impact by serving on the board of the Memphis Airport Authority, by working with the Boy Scouts of America for more than 25 years, by serving on the board of Sacred Heart Southern Missions and more.

The Leech Public Service Award will be presented during the Tennessee Bar Association’s Lawyers Luncheon on June 18.

The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) was founded in 1881. Its membership represents the entire spectrum of the legal profession in Tennessee and beyond. The TBA is open to all licensed attorneys in good standing, and it is dedicated to enhancing fellowship and professionalism among the members of Tennessee’s legal community.