Congratulations to those who will receive 2020 NCWBA Awards, which will be presented during the Women’s Bar Leadership Summit on Friday, July 31, 2020. This year’s Public Service Award goes to Minnesota Women Lawyers for their Gender Data Project. Receiving an Honorable Mention in that category is Florida Association for Women Lawyers for their efforts to support the adoption of a rule providing that a court must grant a motion for continuance based on the parental leave of a lead attorney. The 2020 Outstanding Member Program Award goes to the Women Lawyers Forum of the Canadian Bar Association for their Pathways to Power program. Receiving an Honorable Mention in that category is the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia for their Corporate Counsel and Law Firm Women of Color Task Force. New this year is an award specifically designated for a women’s law student association. The inaugural award goes to the Women’s Law Caucus of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law for their Feminine Hygiene Donation Drive.
The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations recognizes significant accomplishments of member associations in the hopes of inspiring others to replicate or create similar programs, as well as to honor the good work of volunteers.
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.
Women’s Law Student Association Award
To be presented for the first time in 2020, the NCWBA Women’s Law Student Association Award seeks to recognize a wide variety of outstanding and unique projects by law student associations. Projects co-sponsored with other non-women’s law student associations may be considered, although more weight is given to those carried out primarily by a women’s law student association. Examples of programs to be nominated could be a unique presentation, service project, panel discussion or initiative.