Mary F. Radford: Rewriting State Law to Protect Families

As one of the first professors at Georgia State University’s College of Law, Mary F. Radford has trained a generation of new lawyers in downtown Atlanta.

Her knowledge has also improved laws affecting generations of families across Georgia and the nation.

Radford, who has held two endowed professorships administered through the Georgia State University Foundation, is a national expert on estate planning and elder law.

Mary F. Radford “I work very closely with judges, lawyers and legislators across the country, to try to make the best laws to protect a family’s best asset – their family,” said Radford.

Radford is the Marjorie Fine Knowles Professor of Law, funded by Bobby Lee Cook, a renowned defense attorney from Summerville, Ga. with more than 60 years of legal experience and one of GSU’s most generous donors.

The fund is named in honor of Marjorie Knowles, who teaches corporate governance, corporate law and conflict of laws. She served as dean of the College of Law from 1986 to 1991.

Radford previously held the Catherine C. Henson Professor of Law chair, funded by its namesake GSU alumna Cathy Henson, also a professor of education law at Georgia State. Through her nonprofit, the Georgia School Council Institute (www.GeorgiaEducation.org), Henson advocates for the improvement of public education.

“I’ve been able, because of the support of the endowed chairs, to bring back to the Gold Dome many of the ideas I’ve learned,” Radford said. “Consequently, I’ve been very lucky to be instrumental in changing state law related to probate, guardianship and trust law.”

In 2011, Radford became the president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, which was founded in 1949 to counsel families on estate and family planning issues.  She is the first academic to serve as the group’s president.

Radford served as the reporter for the State Bar of Georgia committees that revised Georgia’s law related to probate, guardianship and trusts. The State Bar of Georgia awarded her the Verner S. Chaffin Career Service Award for dedicated service to fiduciary issues, and the National College of Probate Judges awarded her the Treat Award for Excellence.

Radford constantly faces the challenge of new issues in family law. She is helping modernize laws for incapacitated adults with Alzheimer’s disease. She has explored the legal loopholes encountered by children born from donated sperm or eggs.

“Every place I go, I carry the name of Georgia State proudly, and I thank you for helping me.”

—By Michelle Hiskey; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424