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UK Law Honors Alumni, Inducts Three Into Hall of Fame

May 12, 2016

On May 11 in Louisville, KY, the University of Kentucky College of Law and the Law Alumni Association inducted three new members into the 2016 Hall of Fame at an alumni reception held annually in conjunction with the Kentucky Bar Association Convention.

The University of Kentucky Law Alumni Association Hall of Fame was established to acknowledge graduates and long-serving faculty of the College whose extraordinary professional success and contributions, profound positive influence on the College of Law, and high degree of character and integrity are recognized by their peers. Inclusion in the Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the UK Law Alumni Association. The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees are former Gov. Steve Beshear, John G. McNeill, and Marcia Milby Ridings.

Steven Lynn Beshear served as the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 2007-2015. He first joined the law firm of Stites & Harbison in 1987 and supervised the firm’s Lexington office until becoming Governor in 2007. Prior to serving as Governor, he served as Attorney General from 1979 to 1983 and Lieutenant Governor from 1983 to 1987. He was also a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979.

Gov. Beshear successfully brought Kentucky through the historic recession by making Kentucky a leader in job creation. Under his leadership, Kentucky’s unemployment rate dropped from 10.7% to 4.9% and the state set export records four years in a row. In all, Gov. Beshear’s administration announced almost 2,300 new and expansion projects that created $19.3 billion in investment and more than 87,000 jobs when full employment is attained. The economic turnaround culminated in 2014 by Kentucky winning Site Selection magazine’s coveted Governor’s Cup, meaning Kentucky finished first in the nation in economic development per capita.

In 2013, Gov. Beshear announced the expansion of the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act and launched the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, benefitting over 500,000 Kentuckians. These actions together reduced the state’s uninsured rate from over 20% to 9% and ensured that for the first time in history every Kentuckian would have access to affordable health insurance. As Governor, he spent eight years running and managing what could be compared to a $10 billion enterprise with over 30,000 employees and a wide variety of interests.

Gov. Beshear graduated with honors from the University of Kentucky in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in History, and obtained his Juris Doctor with honors from UK College of Law in 1968.

John G. McNeill is an equity partner in the law firm of Landrum & Shouse, LLP. He was born and raised in inner-city North Philadelphia. Upon high school graduation, he followed the immortal words of Horace Greeley and went west to the University of Wyoming, graduating in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science with honors in Political Science. He then went to UK College of Law, obtaining his Juris Doctor in 1982. He was a recipient of the W.L. Matthews Scholarship.

John was hired after law school as the first African-American lawyer in the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government Department of Law. In 1985, he joined Landrum, Shouse and Patterson (now Landrum & Shouse LLP) as the first African-American associate in any majority law firm in Lexington. His active civil trial practice, with concentrations that include insurance defense and education law, has taken him literally to every county in Eastern and South Central Kentucky. He has argued before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court.

John is a member of the original Henry Clay Chapter of the American Inns of Court and the revitalized Central Kentucky Inns of Court. He served as an adjunct professor at UK Law in Litigation Skills from 1990 to 2002 and still pinch hits for his partner, Pierce Hamblin, who has taught for more than 35 years. John serves on the UK Law Visiting Committee and serves on the Board for Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.

His public service includes serving on the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Assaults, the LFUCG Green Space Commission, and closest to his heart, the Board of Visitors for the University of Wyoming. In 2014, UK honored him with the Torch of Excellence Award at the 24th Annual Lyman T. Johnson Celebration. He is married to his lovely wife, Jeannetta Burbridge-McNeill.

Marcia Milby Ridings, UK College of Law class of 1976, began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Eugene E. Siler, Jr. with the U.S. District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky. In 1979, she joined her father’s law firm (Hamm Milby & Ridings) where she is now the senior partner.

Marcia has been active in legal and civic organizations throughout her career.  She was the first woman to serve as President of the Kentucky Bar Association (1995-96) and was named the Outstanding Lawyer of the Year by the KBA in 2006. She has been active with the American Bar Association, serving on the House of Delegates for many years and she presently sits on the ABA’s Board of Governors. In 2013 she received the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division’s Difference Maker’s Award. She also serves on the UK College of Law Visiting Committee and on the Board of Directors of Lawyer’s Mutual Insurance Company of Kentucky.              

In addition to her legal activities, Marcia is on the Boards of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the Baptist Healthcare System, Baptist Health Corbin and the Laurel County Public Library. 

She heads a six person law firm which includes her son and daughter-in-law (Jay and Kelly Ridings). One of her greatest joys is that Jay practices next to her in her father’s office.

Other honorees included Shelley D. Chatfield, 1993 (Professional Achievement), Roula Allouch, 2006 and Stephen M. Ruschell, 1974 (Community Service), J. Morgan McGarvey, 2007 (Young Professional), Judge David L. Bunning, 1991 (Distinguished Jurist), and Foster Ockerman, 1947 (Legacy).