Marshall native inducted into bar association Hall of Fame
By Robin Y. Richardson
Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:20 a.m.
Ebony magazine recognized him as one of "The 100 Most Influential Black Americans."
Former President Bill Clinton appointed him as deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration during his presidential administration.
Now, Marshall native, Dr. Walter Sutton Jr., can add "hall-of-famer" to his vita after recently being inducted into "The Hall of Fame" at the National Bar Association Convention (NBA), hosted in New Orleans, La.
"I was humbled and honored to think the work that I've done (for) 40 years actually merited recognition," the 1963 Pemberton High School graduate said when asked how he felt about the honor.
"I always strive for excellence," he added. "I'm just humbled and honored and happy to be selected."
Sharing in the moment with him were his mother, Sammie Sutton, and cousin, Williene Flot, both of Marshall. His wife, Beverly, and son, Dave, also attended as well as his colleagues at Wal-Mart where he serves as associate general counsel in the company's legal administration and external relations division. His co-workers were flown in for the occasion by company jet.
"That certainly made the day special," Dr. Sutton said of having his friends, family and colleagues support him. "It was particularly special for my mother to be able to travel down and co-workers from Wal-Mart."
The attorney, who now lives in the Dallas area, said the induction is a very selective and thorough process, requiring letters of recommendation and a certain criteria.
"I was able to meet the requirements," he said, acknowledging that is an accomplishment within itself.
Dr. Sutton, who currently serves as chair of the National Bar Institute Board of Directors, has been a member of the National Bar Association since 1975. He has attended every annual convention since 1976. As a member, he's been very active serving in various capacities including secretary, treasurer and vice president before becoming NBA president for the 1987-1988 bar year. He currently serves on the board of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver, and the ABA Diversity Center Board.
The inductee was recently appointed chairman of the board of trustees of Wiley College in July. The new position is his primary focus now and his goal is "helping Wiley to grow and meet its mission and goals."
The 64-year-old, who has had a distinguished legal career for the past 40 years, said it has been very rewarding to help others. He especially enjoys helping younger lawyers excel.
"I love mentoring young lawyers and helping them grow," he said.
Dr. Sutton initially wanted to be an educator like his parents, who instilled in him the criticality of education and the fact that it would be the key to his future success.
"That's why I got a Ph.D.," he said, explaining it was for his teaching career.
He taught at the University of Texas-Dallas and practiced law simultaneously.
"I thought I could be a change agent," he said, expounding on his decision to pursue a law degree.
"It has made a difference as far as social justice," he said, sharing how he's helped those who lacked the necessary resources.
His family is definitely proud of him.
"Walter is true to his faith and family," Ms. Flot, his cousin wrote, in an e-mail. "He is quite an accomplished educator, teacher, leader and lawyer. Marshall, Texas, is very proud of our own."
Dr. Sutton earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Denver, his juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School, his master's in business administration from the University of Dallas, and his Ph.D. in management science from UT-Dallas.