Avarita L. Hanson is a legal consultant who focuses her work on professional responsibility, professionalism and representation of select clients. She retired after serving eleven years as Executive Director of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. She has served the legal community and the community at-large for more than 40 years. Her varied professional experience in legal and law-related environments includes legal education, private law practice, the judiciary, legal aid and government (state, county and municipal).
Avarita grew up in suburban New York, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants. She received her J. D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1978 and earned her A.B. degree in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University (Radcliffe College) in 1975, finishing at the top of her class magna cum laude with highest honors. Licensed to practice law in Georgia since 1984, she was first admitted to practice in Texas in 1979 (now inactive).
Hanson served as a law school administrator and professor of practical skills courses, with the City of Atlanta, Fulton County and State of Georgia, as a part-time juvenile court judge and legal aid pro bono director. Prior to and in between government positions, she engaged in private law practice in solo practice, a partnership and a large law firm.
A recognized bar leader, she was president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, Gate City Bar Association, and currently chairs the Ethics & Professionalism Committee for the National Bar Association. Hanson is the recipient of four of the highest awards given to a Georgia lawyer by the State Bar of Georgia: the 2018 Justice Robert Benham Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service from the State Bar of Georgia & the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, State Bar of Georgia’s Resolution for Outstanding Service to the Legal Profession and Justice System (2017), Thomas R. Burnside, Jr. Excellence in Bar Leadership Award (GABWA, 2017), and the Randolph Thrower Lifetime Achievement Award for Commitment to Equality (2011).
Hanson has also served numerous community organizations as president including the Harvard Club of Georgia, Outstanding Atlanta, and the Atlanta Chapter of the Links, Inc. and has received numerous awards for her community leadership and service. She is active with Cascade United Methodist Church, particularly its Legal Ministry, the Lawyers Club of Atlanta, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, Atlanta Chapter of the Links, GABWA, Gate City Bar Association, and numerous State Bar of Georgia committees.
Her approach to teaching professionalism is innovative, personal, inter-generational inspirational and demonstrative, encouraging both young and mature lawyers to call her “Mommarita” and her to approach them with love and discipline. She has been married to William Alexander, MD for forty five years and they have two sons and one grandson.