Born in Americus, Georgia, on October 31, 1918. He attended Georgia Southwestern College, and received an LL.B. degree cum laude from Mercer University Law School in Macon, Georgia. In addition, he received the Order of the Coif from Vanderbilt Law School, and honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities.
Mr. Bell served in the U. S. Army from 1941 to 1946, attaining the rank of major.
He was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1947, and practiced in Savannah and Rome, Georgia, before joining the Atlanta law firm of King & Spalding in 1953. From January 1959 to October 1961, Bell held the honorary position of chief of staff to Georgia Governor Ernest Vandiver.
In 1961 President Kennedy appointed him to serve on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In March 1976, he returned to King & Spalding as a senior partner. He resigned from the firm on December 31, 1976, after being nominated for the office of Attorney General by President Carter. Confirmed by the Senate on January 25, 1977, Bell was sworn in on January 26, receiving the oath of office from Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.
During his career, Bell served as Chairman of the Committee on Innovation and Development of the Federal Judicial Center, of the American Bar Association's Division of Judicial Administration and of the Pound Conference Follow-Up Task Force.
His memberships included the American Law Institute, the American Bar Association's Commission on Standards of Judicial Administration, the Board of Directors of the Federal Judicial Center, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the Visiting Committee of Vanderbilt Law School. He was a trustee of Mercer University and an attorney with the law firm King & Spalding. Bell died January 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.more » « less