2013 Distinguished Alumnus & Young Alumnus of the Year Awards, and the 2013 Friend of the Law School Award

Posted: Wed, 04/17/2013 - 11:24

Birmingham, Alabama: -- At the 2013 Reunion Weekend, John L. Carroll, dean and Ethel P. Malugen Professor of Law, announced the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus and Young Alumnus of the Year awards, and the 2013 Friend of the Law School award. Please join Cumberland School of Law to congratulate Rodney Max, Class of 1975, Jacob A. Brown, Class of 1998, and Harlan I. Prater IV as the recipients of the 2013 awards:

Rodney Max ’75
2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

In 1972, after serving in the U.S. Army, Rodney Max was admitted to Cumberland School of Law. He served as associate editor of the Law Review and as justice on the Appellate Moot Court Board.

Max has served as a student professor for appellate brief writing and as an adjunct professor for over five years, creating Cumberland School of Law’s first mediation course curriculum. In 2005, Max established the Rodney A. Max Mediation Fellowship at Cumberland School of Law. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to at least one law student to recognize his or her achievement in the area of mediation.

Max is a principal with the law firm Upchurch Watson White & Max with offices in Alabama and Florida. He had a successful commercial litigation practice in Birmingham, Ala., until 1992, when he became Alabama’s first full-time mediator. Max quickly expanded his mediation practice throughout the Southeast, and he has mediated more than 14,000 cases in 33 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico. Since 2002, Max has resided in south Florida and continues to travel throughout the country mediating catastrophic injuries and damages, as well as numerous mass and class actions.

Throughout his career, Max has been active civically and a leader in human rights and Jewish causes, serving as chairman of the Alabama State Civil Rights Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.   

Jacob A. Brown ’98
2013 Young Alumnus of the Year

Originally from Sharon, Ga., Brown received in 1994 bachelor of science degrees from North Carolina State University in chemical engineering, and in pulp and paper science and technology. He worked in the paper industry following graduation. Following in his father’s footsteps, Brown graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1998. After completing a judicial clerkship with United States Bankruptcy Judge Jerry A. Funk (also a graduate of Cumberland School of Law), Brown started a private practice in Jacksonville, Fla., at Akerman Senterfitt. He was elected as a full equity shareholder with Akerman in 2005. His practice focuses primarily on bankruptcy, commercial litigation and business law. In his bankruptcy practice, he represents trustees, creditors and debtors. Recently, Brown successfully represented a NFL quarterback in his personal bankruptcy. He has represented commercial landlords in bankruptcy cases throughout the United States and represented lenders and borrowers in structured financing. In addition to practice, Brown frequently writes on bankruptcy related topics and lectures for various professional associations related to bankruptcy law, including the American Bankruptcy Institute.   

Licensed in Georgia and Florida, Brown is active in the Florida Bar Association and his local bar, the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Bar Association, which he served as president in 2003-04. In December 2012, Jay was named chair of the Florida Bar’s Business Law Section’s Bankruptcy/UCC Committee and in June 2013, he becomes co-chair of Florida's statewide Bankruptcy Judicial Liaison Committee. Brown has served as a judge for the Duval County Teen Court program and is a member of the North Carolina State Pulp and Paper Foundation. Prior to being listed in the Florida Super Lawyers magazine (2012), Brown was named to the “Florida Trend’s Legal Elite 2010-12,” for bankruptcy and workout.

Outside his professional development in the law, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors and coaching his son’s soccer team. For the 14 years he has been in Jacksonville, he has run Jacksonville’s 15k Gate River Run. Jay is married to Dr. Kristin Alberts. The Browns have a son and a daughter.      

Harlan I. Prater IV
2013 Friend of Cumberland School of Law

Harlan I. Prater IV served tirelessly and enthusiastically to bring the Jere F. White Jr. Fellows Program to life at Cumberland School of Law. The Fellow Program is the premier scholarship at the law school. The Fellow receives a full-tuition scholarship to attend Cumberland School of Law, a $5,000 stipend for three years, and tuition and lodging for the law school’s Cambridge Study Abroad program at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, England.

When complimented about his gifts of time and energy to Cumberland School of Law, Prater is quick to deflect attention from himself and even quicker to acknowledge other key volunteers, alumni and family members. Harlan is known for his humility that is simply his way—he works hard and gives others credit. He is an example of true service to the legal profession. Cumberland School of Law is pleased to publicly highlight Prater’s generous and multiple-year volunteer efforts and financial support to the law school. Cumberland School of Law is proud to recognize Harlan with the award of 2013 Friend of the Law School. He is an exceptional lawyer and true friend of Cumberland School of Law.

Prater is a partner with Lightfoot Franklin LLC, an honors graduate of Duke University (magna cum laude), and Duke University School of Law (with honors). Prater’s twenty-five year law practice is devoted to all types of high-stakes civil trial work. Focusing on product liability, pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, he also has extensive experience in business litigation, including consumer fraud, antitrust, patent cases and environmental litigation. Prater is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, as well as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Alabama Law Foundation. He is recognized in “The Best Lawyers in America” for his personal injury and environmental litigation work, and has been included among the "Top 50" lawyers in Alabama Super Lawyers magazine. Married for twenty-three years and the father of two teenage daughters, Prater serves on the executive committee and board of directors of the Birmingham YMCA. He serves on the board of trustees of both Canterbury United Methodist Church and the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.