Friday, July 21, 2017
On July 20, 2017, Magistrate Judge T. Michael Putnam of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama received the prestigious Judge Drayton N. James Award at the Birmingham Bar Association (BBA) Young Lawyers Section's Annual BBQ with the Bench.
"I am very honored to be recognized for the Drayton N. James Award, especially because it is awarded by the Young Lawyers Section of the Birmingham Bar Association," Magistrate Judge Putnam said. "The Young Lawyers are the future of the legal profession, and based on my experience with them, I can say the future is in good hands."
The award's namesake is the Honorable Drayton N. James, a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge from 1995 until his death in 1998. Members of the BBA Young Lawyers Section vote to present the annual award to a Birmingham judge who exemplifies Judge James' legacy of friendship, leadership, professionalism, and legal guidance to young lawyers.
"As reflected by the collective voice of the Young Lawyers Section's 400-plus members, Judge Putnam has left a long legacy of being a friend, mentor, and role model to young attorneys across the Birmingham area," attorney James W. Wright, President of the BBA Young Lawyers Section, stated. "Judge Putnam’s acceptance speech conveyed the importance he places on the integrity of our profession and his genuine desire for younger attorneys to adhere to the best traditions of being an attorney. The Young Lawyers’ Section congratulates Judge Putnam on his selection by our membership."
Magistrate Judge Putnam, the longest serving magistrate judge in the history of the Northern District of Alabama, was appointed on February 9, 1987. At the time of this appointment, he was the youngest magistrate judge in the United States at 32.
Magistrate Judge Putnam earned his B.A. degree from the University of Alabama in 1976 and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and the Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies. In 1979, he earned his J.D. degree from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he finished in the top 5% of his class and was a Hugo Black Scholar. At law school, he was also a member of the Order of the Coif, the Alabama Law Review editorial board, the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society, and the Farrah Law Society. Following graduation and before being appointed a federal magistrate judge, he practiced law in Florence, Alabama, first as an associate and then as a partner in the firm of Potts, Young & Blasingame.
Magistrate Judge Putnam is a member of the Alabama State Bar, the Birmingham Bar Association, and the Federal Magistrate Judges Association, where he served as the Eleventh Circuit Director from 2004-2008. Since 2006, he has been an adjunct professor at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, where he teaches Pretrial Practice and Procedure. He is also a frequent writer and speaker at continuing legal education courses.