From a field of outstanding submissions, the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) is pleased to announce that the winner of our 2017 Public Service Award is the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, for their Pay Equity Project. Receiving an honorable mention in the same category is the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York for the Voter Registration Project. The winner of the 2017 Outstanding Member Program Award is South Carolina Women Lawyers Association for their Building Resilience Project.
The NCWBA Public Service Award and Outstanding Member Program Award are prestigious national awards recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of women’s bar associations across the country. The Awards are meant to inspire other women’s bar associations to emulate them and initiate successful programs in their own regions.
Public Service Award
Initiated in 1985, the NCWBA Public Service Award is given to bar associations to recognize a wide variety of outstanding and unique public service projects.
The types of projects which have won the Public Service Award over the years have taken many different forms and have approached “public service” in a variety of different ways, such as:
- Directly providing pro bono legal services – such as the Framingham Project for Incarcerated Mothers (pro bono work in family law matters, clearing of warrants, sealing of criminal record, etc.)
- Equipping lawyers with training to provide public interest legal services – such as the Domestic Violence Law Clinic (training lawyers to represent pro bono domestic violence victims)
- Creating materials to educate people about legal rights – such as the Legal Rights Handbook and the Know Your Rights Project
- Conducting educational seminars on legal rights – for example, the Overcoming Cancer’s Legal Challenges project for cancer patients
- Providing services or assistance to children impacted by the legal system – such as the Children’s Library for Family Court, Project FUTURE (assists young adults in foster care who are not adopted by age 18 to find work and develop goals), or the Visiting Mom Project (provided an inviting visiting room for children visiting their incarcerated mothers)
- Influencing others to pursue legal careers – such as the San Francisco Color of Justice Program (encouraging inner-city minority and underprivileged students to consider careers in the law), Power Lunch (lunch program at courthouse with judges, lawyers and students to provide positive experience with the justice system and inspire students to consider careers in law)
The very first NCWBA Public Service Award was presented to the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles in 1985 by US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, as part of a “Women in Law” reception at the US Supreme Court. The groups were honored for their work in founding and supporting the Los Angeles Buhai Center of Family Law. For a complete list of previous Public Service Award winners, click here.
Outstanding Member Program Award
Initiated in 2008, the NCWBA Outstanding Member Program Award is given to women’s bar associations to recognize innovative projects, programs and services for their members or the bar association itself.
Like the Public Service Award projects, the types of projects which have won the Outstanding Member Program Award over the years have taken many different forms, such as:
- Encouraging and preparing members to pursue careers in judiciary and public office – such as the Judicial and Public Office Academy (support, educate, promote and fuel the pipeline of well prepared African-American female attorneys who desire to obtain public office), the So You Want To Be A Judge? Program, the Political Boot Camp Program, and the Path to the Judiciary Program
- Providing mentoring and leadership skills – such as the Pipeline to Leadership Project (leadership training program to secure spots on boards and commissions), Hit the Ground Running (hands-on training program for third-year law students and judicial clerks), the Young Lawyers Committee Mentoring Program, the Professional Development Academy, the First Generation Professionals Discussion Group (project focusing on first-generation women lawyers and their unique challenges)
- Providing members with law practice management skills– such as the Fee Circle Project (educating women lawyers on fee practices so they do not underprice their services) and the Practical Skills You Need to Succeed Program
- Preserving the history of women lawyers – such as the Legacy Project (project honoring the heritage of women lawyers in the state of Washington)
For a complete list of previous Outstanding Member Program Award winners, click here.
The 2017 awards will be presented at the Women’s Bar Leadership Summit, held in conjunction with the ABA annual meeting, on August 11 in New York.
For questions or more information, contact Shiloh Theberge or Leigh-Ann Durant, NCWBA Awards Co-Chairs at email@example.com.