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The E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards recognize exemplary and innovative professionalism programs that promote the highest principles of integrity and dedication to the legal profession and the public. This year the Standing Committee on Professionalism honors each of the following three outstanding professionalism programs with the award and a $3,500 check:

The Dallas Bar Association Day of Civility program is a state-wide initiative designed to provide lawyers in Texas an opportunity to reaffirm and embrace the principles espoused in the Texas Lawyer’s Creed and supported by a joint proclamation signed by the state and federal court judges. The Day of Civility program features leaders in the Texas legal community who speak on various ethics and professionalism topics.

The Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society Pathways and Pipelines to Success program offers African-American law students from all four Louisiana law schools professional development, career-building tools and networking opportunities by immersing them in experiential learning, exposing them to exceptional professional development resources and role models and assisting them in transitioning after law school to professionals.

The Stetson University College of Law Professional Development Conference: Campus to Career program facilitates decision-making and increased engagement and enrollment in experiential and co-curricular learning opportunities by strengthening students’ knowledge and skills in nine competency areas: resilience, time management, professionalism, decision-making, planning, civility, self-assessment, mentoring and wellness.

The Harrison Tweed Award, created in 1956, recognizes the extraordinary achievements of state and local bar associations that develop or significantly expand projects or programs to increase access to civil legal services for those living in poverty or criminal defense services for indigents. This award, named for a leader in the promotion of free legal services to those living in poverty, is co-sponsored by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

The Mississippi Bar and the state’s Access to Justice Commission has worked to deliver access to justice in the state of Mississippi by undertaking a project to conduct civil legal clinic events throughout the state starting in January 2018. The statewide pro bono initiative began with a challenge from the then Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court to all chancellors and members of the Mississippi Bar to help pro se litigants in every chancery court district. Legal clinic events were organized and supported by the Bar and Access to Justice Commission staff, chancellors, and their staffs, along with legal services offices, many local bar associations, and volunteer lawyers. By year’s end, over 450 attorneys provided over 1,300 hours of free legal services to over 850 participants in need.

The Philadelphia Bar Association created its Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force to focus on developing creative strategies to improve access to justice and a right to counsel through a number of innovative projects addressing the legal needs of low-income members of the community. A recent example was the November 2018 release of a groundbreaking economic impact study commissioned by the Association, detailing the economic justification for funding of legal counsel to all eligible tenants, which was closely followed by the March 2019 introduction of legislation in City Council calling for the establishment of a legal defense fund for tenants facing eviction. Taken together, the study and proposed legislation change the landscape by offering a sustainable answer to the eviction crisis and serves as a capstone to a decade of work by the Philadelphia Bar Association.


Named for the father of Alternative Dispute Resolution and long-time Harvard Law School professor Frank Sander, the Frank E.A. Sander Innovation in ADR Award was established to recognize innovative methods and extraordinary achievements in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The 2019 Frank E.A. Sander Innovation in ADR Award is being presented to Colin Rule and Edith Primm, who have demonstrated a steadfast dedication to increasing access to justice and developing innovative solutions to help drive the future of dispute resolution.


The ABA Partnership Awards Program recognizes efforts by bar associations to increase diversity in the organized bar as well as those that attract diverse students to the legal profession. The program is sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services and implemented through the ABA Division for Bar Services. Members of the Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services were the sole reviewers of award applications for 2019.

Three programs were selected for the award:

State Bar of South Dakota, Young Lawyers Section’s Project Destination strives to recruit Native American students to the legal profession. It is implemented by the South Dakota Young Lawyers Section ("SD YLS"), whose purpose is to promote the advancement of young lawyers and encourage their interest and participation in the activities of the state bar.

The Allegheny County Bar Association’s Women’s Institute for Leadership in Law (WILL) is an intensive, ten-month program designed to prepare women attorneys to advance into leadership positions in Pittsburgh area law firms and corporate legal departments. WILL was specifically geared toward women attorneys with approximately 5 to 8 years of experience who have been identified as high-potential attorneys and future leaders in the profession by their employers. For our inaugural WILL program in 2018, through a competitive application process, we assembled a diverse cohort of 28 women attorneys with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, practice areas, work environments and goals. Close to one third of the inaugural cohort were in-house attorneys.

The Contra Costa Bar Association Diversity Award Checklist program, with a goal to inspire all member firms to be more aware, inclusive, and to better appreciate the differences of those in the legal profession. The idea was to include a wide range of inclusion activities that firms of all sizes could implement and to recognize diversity efforts that they may already be practicing. The committee wrote a Diversity Award Checklist of more than 100 metrics in four categories including Education, Training and Communications; External Diversity Commitments; Internal Diversity Commitments and Recruiting and Retention.


In partnership with LexisNexis, this Nation­al Conference of Bar Foundations (NCBF) award honors bar foundation initiatives that make a significant impact in their community on issues for which lawyers are uniquely posi­tioned to lead.

Funded by a grant from the Missouri Lawyers Trust Account Foundation and the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Foundation, the 1217 Project is a four-year legal and financial literacy initiative. It is designed to promote individual self-sufficiency and disrupt the trend toward intergenerational poverty in Springfield’s Zone One and project initiatives have helped over 800 individuals living in this zone.

The 1217 Project is a direct outgrowth of addressing an identified community need and has established the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Foundation as a crucial partner which is not only in the room where problems are discussed, but at the table digging in and making solutions happen.


The 2019 NABE Bolton Award for Professional Excellence is presented to Zoe Linza, executive director of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis.  Zoe has served as the bar’s executive director for the last 13 years. During her tenure, Zoe has sought to modernize the association, augment its external profile and create an atmosphere where staff and volunteers flourish.  She has brought her talents to the service of the National Association of Bar Executives, as well, serving on multiple committees, as the organization’s treasurer, as a member of the board, and as its president in 2016-17.  She is particularly known for mentoring and encouraging the participation of new members.  In the words of one of her nominators for the Bolton Award, “Zoe makes her staff, lawyers and other bar execs feel noticed, valued and included. She hasn’t just modeled excellence, she has recognized and promoted excellence in others.”


See pictures from the awards luncheon here.