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Awards

The California Lawyers Association recently assumed responsibility for selecting and awarding several honors previously bestowed by the State Bar. These awards are given annually to attorneys, judges, and programs that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to promoting justice and high ethical standards.

Many of the award recipients have worked with vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, low-income farm workers, and communities whose primary language is not English.

Each award has its own deadline and application. To find out more, see the list below.

Aranda Award

Presented for the first time in 1999, the Aranda Award honors a judge who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving access to our courts, and who has significantly improved access for low-and moderate-income Californians. The Judicial Council, the CLA, and the California Judges Association, in association with the California Commission on Access to Justice, co-sponsor the award. The Aranda Award is named in honor of the late Judge Benjamin Aranda III, who was known for his tireless efforts to promote fairness and access in the courts.

Award Criteria
Criteria to be used in the selection of the award recipient include one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrated dedication to improving access to our judicial system for low and moderate income Californians;
  • Demonstrated commitment to increasing the involvement of volunteer attorneys in the representation of the indigent;
  • Successful establishment of a model system for providing assistance to self-represented litigants;
  • Successful establishment of a model cooperative effort with local legal services programs or bar associations designed to improve available representation for low or moderate income litigants; or
  • Other significant activities demonstrating a long-term commitment to improving the accessibility of our judicial system for all Californians, regardless of income.

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

Past Aranda Access to Justice Award Recipients

Bernard E. Witkin Medal

Recognizes attorneys and non-attorneys who, through a career of extraordinary service, have made significant contributions to the quality of justice and legal scholarship in California.

Award Criteria
To a member of the legal community who has helped shape the legal landscape through an extraordinary body of work.

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

Past Bernard E. Witkin Medal Recipients

Diversity Awards

The Diversity Awards are to recognize outstanding efforts made by a law firm, bar association, or organization to promote diversity in the legal profession, in their organization or among their peers.

Bar Association Award Criteria:

  • Open to any state, regional, affinity/identity or specialty bar associations;  
  • Demonstrated success creating and sustaining a program, campaign, project or effort that promotes diversity in the bar association and/or legal community

Organizational Award Criteria:

  • Open to any 501c3, 501c4 or 501c6 non-profit organization or educational institution
  • Demonstrated success creating and sustaining a program, campaign, project or effort that promotes diversity in the bar association or community at large.  

Law Firm Award Criteria:

  • Open to any Law Firm 
  • A Law Firm that has sustained, long-term efforts in encouraging, increasing and/or maintaining diversity in the legal profession, with particular focus on recruitment, retention and advancement of attorneys from diverse backgrounds.
  • Demonstrated success creating and sustaining a program, campaign, project or effort that promotes diversity in their local or legal community.

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

Past Recipients of the Diversity Awards

Excellence in Civics Engagement Award

This is awarded to a California attorney who has championed the advancement of civics programs, campaigns, projects or efforts that promote the understanding of civics and the 3rd branch of government.

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

Harry B. Sondheim Professional Responsibility Award

Recognizes a member’s outstanding long-term contribution to the advancement of attorney professional standards in California.

Award Criteria
The profile of a typical recipient would include a combination of some, but not necessarily all, of the following career achievements:

  • At least 15 years in the practice of law in California;
  • Service as a member of COPRAC, the Rules Revision Commission, or another State Bar or Supreme Court committee charged with studying a professional responsibility issue;
  • Service as a member of the Board of Governors;
  • Service as a member of a county bar or specialty bar association ethics committee, including specialty groups such as the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC) or Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL);
  • Experience teaching professional responsibility to law students, including as an adjunct;
  • Extensive writing and continuing education (MCLE) presentations on professional responsibility;
  • Service in the State Bar discipline system as a trial counsel, a respondent’s counsel or a State Bar Court Judge, or in the State Bar Professional Competence Office;
  • Service as a fee arbitrator;
  • Service as an expert witness on matters of professional responsibility;
  • Litigation experience in attorney professional liability or related subjects;
  • Experience giving risk management advice to lawyers, including activity as a member of law firm management or on behalf of legal malpractice insurance carriers;
  • Service as a member of the ABA House of Delegates on behalf of a group in the California caucus (i.e., a State Bar delegate or a local California bar association delegate);
  • Charitable financial contributions directed toward the support of professional responsibility programs or activities (i.e., sponsorship of educational events; or State Bar Foundation contributions); and
  • Noteworthy activity as a legislative or judicial proponent of advancing professional standards and the law governing lawyers in California (including, revision, interpretation, enactment or repeal of governing standards).

The above list is not intended to be exhaustive. A nominee for the award may be living or deceased.  In addition, achievement of all the foregoing is not intended to be either necessary or sufficient for conferring the award. The objective of the award is to recognize a substantial long-term commitment to advancing the field of professional responsibility rather than any single discrete achievement. Local and specialty bar association ethics committees are encouraged to submit nominations.  Persons who are employed by the State Bar or who are serving on a State Bar committee are ineligible for the award until the employment or service has ended.

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

Past Recipients of the Harry B. Sondheim Professional Responsibility Award

Jack Berman Award of Achievement

Honors a young lawyer (first eight years of active State Bar membership) who has provided outstanding service to the legal profession and public, as well as dedication to issues of concern to new and young lawyers.

Award Criteria
Any active members of the State Bar of California who have been practicing 8 years or less may apply or be nominated.

  • Award applications should describe a relevant project or service to the public, the judiciary,
  • and/or the legal profession. The project or service may—but need not be—pro bono.
  • The application may describe work performed before 2019, but should highlight achievements from 2018.
  • The award recognizes a new or young lawyer for his or her individual achievements

Award Deadline: June 14, 2019

Past Recipients of the Jack Berman Award of Achievement

Loren Miller Legal Services Award

Honors an attorney who has demonstrated long-term commitment to legal services and who has personally engaged in significant work extending legal services to the poor.

Award Criteria
Nominee must be a member of the State Bar of California. General criteria to be used in the selection of the award recipient include one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of legal services
  • Community organizing to increase access to the legal system
  • Performance of legal services with a demonstrated long-term commitment to providing legal services
  • Successful precedent-setting litigation which benefited the poor
  • Successful local, state and/or national legislative advocacy on behalf of under-represented persons

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

Past Recipients of the Loren Miller Legal Services Award

Legislator of the Year

This distinguished award is given to a member of the California State Assembly or Senate who has championed the advancement of the legal profession and issues important to the legal profession.

Nominees will have:

  • Provided outstanding support to the state legislature
  • Championed the advancement of the legal profession
  • Championed advancement of issues important to the profession including lawyer excellence, diversity and inclusion, the administration of and access to justice

Award Deadline: July 22, 2019

The California Lawyers Association also issues the Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services to lawyers, law students, paralegals, legal secretaries and other non-attorneys in California who volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of low-income clients. Pro Bono Managers can submit the Wiley Manuel Certificate application on behalf of their volunteers who complete fifty hours of pro bono service annually. Download the Request Form below.

Wiley W. Manual Pro Bono Certificate Request Form

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