Each year, based on nominations from members and the public, the Oregon State Bar honors a select group of lawyers and judges for their outstanding contributions to the community and the legal profession. This year, the distinguished President’s Membership Service Award, which honors attorneys for contributions made to the profession, will be presented to Gina Johnnie. This award will be presented Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at The Governor’s Hotel in Portland.
Gina Johnnie was raised in rural Redmond, Oregon, on a small farm. The skills she learned growing up came handy during her tenure as the Marion County Bar President in 2005. As with all incoming Presidents of the MCBA, Gina faced the daunting task of hosting the annual awards dinner and trying to make sure it finished on time given that her daughter was with a baby sitter. Perhaps the moment for which Gina is most remembered, at least to MCBA members, is that night; she stood behind those talking about award winners and the winners themselves with a live cattle prod. Most laughed, but all took it seriously (because they were not sure if she would actually use it); everyone finished in a timely manner and Gina was able to get home and relieve the baby sitter. It was certainly a memorable MCBA Awards dinner.
In addition to her cattle prod skills, Gina developed an aptitude for early rising as a child on the farm. At least we all assume she must have, because there is otherwise not enough time in the day to accomplish her many contributions to the legal community. Gina has made community service an integral part of her legal life, which is in addition to her full time practice as a partner with Salem firm Sherman, Sherman, Johnnie & Hoyt, LLP, where she focuses on Banking and Lending Law, Creditor’s Rights, and Construction Law.
In addition to her tenure as the cattle prod wheeling former MCBA President, Gina has been involved in the Understanding Racism Foundation facilitating a series of discussions organized by Former Justice Pederson to raise awareness about issues of race in and outside the legal community. Her leadership roles also include a position with the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors for a four year period ending in 2011. Gina has also sat on the local Judicial Screening Committee and currently helps organize continuing legal education programs for the Marion County Bar, as well as the Mary Leonard Law Society’s Courthouse Connections; the CLEs include a series of practical litigation skills classes for new lawyers. Gina is also active in the Willamette Valley chapter of Inns of Court and the steering committee for the Campaign for Equal Justice, as well as Mary Leonard Law Society’s Imprint program. The Imprint Program mentors North Salem high school students. Gina’s contributions to the Marion County community were recognized last year when she was awarded the 2012 Carson Award for extraordinary service from a member of the MCBA to the Bar.
In recognition of Gina Johnnie’s many years of service and contributions, the Oregon State Bar has elected to honor her with the President’s Membership Service Award, a distinction which she is honored to receive.