(1904 - 1983)
Throughout a 57-year legal career from which he never fully retired, Francis Hare's unique approach to his profession left a permanent impact on the system of justice he so faithfully served.
He was born in Lower Peach Tree, Alabama, a small town in Wilcox County on the Alabama River. At the age of twelve, Francis lost both parents within the same year and was moved to Monroeville, where he lived with his uncle, Judge Francis Hare (for whom he was named). An honors student at both Auburn University and the Naval Academy, he worked his way, virtually unsupported, through the University of Alabama Law School.
Francis became one of the first attorneys in the United States to commit his practice to representing the rights of injured individuals. Behind his commitment was a genuine sensitivity for each client's personal loss, coupled with a unique ability to present his or her cause with clarity and force. Of his many contributions to civil litigation, three stand out in terms of innovation and influence: first, a complete rethinking of the basis upon which wrongful death claims are made; second, a personal manifesto on the nature of pain and suffering; and third, an argument which brought new respect for the often tragic consequences that so-called small disabilities can have upon the quality of an injury victims life.
In 1976, Francis wrote a great book titled "My Learned Friends" on how to be a great trial lawyer. In his book, Francis says there is no holy grail; there is no secret on how to be a great trial lawyer. You have to be wired for it at birth and have the ability to listen to the jury who communicates with you without words. Francis wrote, "There is more than a little magic in it. I have seen a shabby old lawyer that almost literally slept in the street come to court, unshaved and disheveled, and rise before a jury that came to scoff and remained to pray. There must be a source of this transformation of personality and power that touches an ordinary man/woman with the Pentecostal fire of an advocate."
The impact of his life was not limited to the law. For nearly six decades, Francis served the Birmingham community through numerous charitable and civic pursuits. Of those endeavors, he took the greatest pride in the Sunday School class he taught for some forty years. In 1982, Francis was officially recognized for his lifetime achievements by the Alabama Association for Justice during a ceremony held in his honor. His memory still stands as an inspiration to those of us who share his vision of the law as a higher calling and justice as a system that serves to protect all people equally.