The American Bar Association National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award is presented annually to recognize an ABA young lawyer who exhibits professional excellence, service to the profession and the bar, service to the community, and/or a reputation for the advancement of legal ethics and professional responsibility. The winner is recognized at the ABA YLD Midyear Assembly.
Youshea A. Berry
The Law Offices of Youshea A. Berry
Nominated by the Bar Association of the District of Columbia
Youshea is the managing attorney of a small law practice in downtown Washington D.C. Her legal career attests to her strong belief in striking a balance between professional development, leadership and public service to the community and the legal profession.
Youshea is active in numerous local and national bar associations. She has served in a myriad of leadership positions within the American Bar Association, Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) and the Greater Washington Area Chapter (GWAC) of the National Bar Association over the past few years. Within the ABA, she has held several leadership positions in the ABA GPSolo and Small Firm Division; ABA Real Property, Trusts and Estates Section; and the Young Lawyers Division. She was previously selected as an ABA YLD Scholar, GPSolo Diversity Fellow, and the young lawyer representative on the West Solo Legal Advisory Board. Currently, she is the GPSolo Liaison to the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and a National Affiliate Representative to the ABA YLD for the National Bar Association.
She has served as the associate editor and writer for several bar newsletters and publications including the ABA's Young Lawyers' Division's 101 Series. Additionally, she is a frequent speaker on various topics throughout the United States and abroad. She has spoken on panels at numerous ABA conferences including the National Conference of Minority Lawyers in Boston; the National Solo and Small Firm Conference in Santa Fe and ABA mid-year and annual meetings. Youshea was also the moderator and a presenter for the ABA Center for CLE Teleconference series and Live Audio Cast on "Strengthening Your Core Real Estate Practice."
Youshea has volunteered with various nonprofit organizations including: the Civil Pro Bono Project of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (a legal clinic for incarcerated women), GWAC Women's Bar Association's Tutoring program (for female students at Malcolm X Middle School), Operation Hope, the DC Bar Association's Community Economic Development Project's Small Business Legal Clinic, DC Chamber of Commerce Foundation, The Girl Scouts (Law and Order Badge Program), You Go Girl Mentoring Program/Girls on the Run, Junior Achievement, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), the Community Law Center in Baltimore, and the Sister to Sister Mentoring Program of the Fulton County Juvenile Court in Atlanta. She is a former Advisory Board member of the YMCA Youth & Government-D.C. Program.
Her volunteer work also extends abroad where she led an international group of women university students to West Africa to assist a grassroots women's organization, CEWEFIA (Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association). Ms. Berry's belief in CEWEFIA's mission in empowering women through micro-enterprise and financial literacy fueled her decision to take a professional hiatus to make the trip abroad.
She understands the importance of pro bono legal service. Youshea currently serves as Pro Bono Counsel for the Young Masters, Inc. youth program that provides free tennis and art programs to DC youth. Youshea was awarded the Alex Fee Memorial Pro Bono Service Award by the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland and the Linda Springrose Spirit of Public Service Award from the Maryland State Bar Association's Leadership Academy for her dedication to pro bono service.
Youshea has worked to increase diversity in the profession-- through expanding the pipeline of promising students -- by speaking and inspiring students at career and law day events at local schools. She also volunteers as a judge for high school debate team competitions and taught a class at a street law program at a local charter school. Youshea also serves as a resource for recent law student graduates through a bar exam mentoring project and provides career advice and guidance to law students through mentoring programs with local law schools.
Youshea earned her J.D. from Emory University School of Law where she was a Presidential Scholar. She earned her B.A. with honors from Xavier University of Louisiana. She is currently admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Georgia and the U.S. Supreme Court.
David M. Gonzalez
Sumpter & González, LLP
Nominated by the Austin Young Lawyers Association
David is the founder and managing partner of Sumter & Gonzalez, L.L.P. in Austin. Rather than choosing the corporate big-firm lifestyle after law school and serving as a summer associate at large national firms, David decided to return to Texas to start a solo public interest practice dedicated to assisting the working poor in various criminal and family matters. In addition to managing his now twelve-person firm, David is a very active board member of the Seedling Foundation, a non-profit organization serving Austin’s public schools, and Saint David’s Day School, as well as an active member of Communities in Schools.
David has collected countless awards for his talents and has received support for his NOYLA nomination from a local judge, the Seedling Foundation, Communities in Schools, a former client, and the Austin Young Lawyer’s Association. Board certified in criminal law, David has served his fellow defense attorneys and clients as a lobbyist for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association at the State Legislative Session and as a board member of the Austin Young Lawyers Association from 2002-2005. David has also been recognized by his peers as one of Texas Monthly’s Rising Stars every year since 2005.
David has successfully represented clients accused of serious felonies and misdemeanors at the trial level in state, federal and juvenile court. In his appellate practice, he has appeared before the Court of Criminal Appeals, the 3rd and 10th Courts of Appeal, and written successful Petitions for the Discretionary Review, resulting in lower courts being overturned. Most recently, he has taken on the daunting task of designing a system to help identify children who are eligible for assistance from the Seedling Foundation. David is a strong and effective advocate for the foundation, and the children it serves.
David’s law firm has a social worker on staff and prioritizes helping teenagers who are very much in need of guidance and support. David is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford Law School.
Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre, LLP
New Orleans, LA
Nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association
Tara focuses her practice on creditor and debtor rights and bankruptcy issues in New Orleans, Louisiana at Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre, LLP. In 2006, she served as chairperson of the New Orleans Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and remains active with that organization as well as the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Tara spearheaded up activities for the New Orleans Bar Association and the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association to respond to Hurricane Katrina, and worked to clean up streets and paint a local police station and prep school. She also spearheaded and chaired two annual fundraisers to benefit the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation and the New Orleans Pro Bono Project.
Tara conceptualized and organized a continuing legal education seminar for civil practitioners to help encourage them to take on the legal defense of criminal defendants that were left stranded by the storm. In the community, Tara has been actively involved in her firm’s United Way campaign, raising $95,000 for the organization. She has served as the head of her firm’s Secret Santa efforts for seven years, and also volunteered with the “Irish Channel Neighborhood Project,” to help clean the Irish Channel neighborhood after Katrina. Tara was named by City Business to be one of the 50 Top Women in New Orleans in 2008 and as one of the 50 Leaders in Law.
Tara is also a founding member of the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and the chairperson of the United Way’s Women’s Initiative Next Generation Committee. She is currently working on the United Way’s inaugural Lead the Way Luncheon and many other exciting activities in her role as chairperson. Tara also has been an active participant in the Federal Bar Association/New Orleans Chapter. She will serve on the Board of Directors for the 2008-2009 year.
Tara was born and raised in Church Point, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country. She attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she received her bachelor’s degree in communications and cultivated a passion for both writing and scuba diving. She then attended Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree and graduated at the top of her class. Tara has published extensively, and her articles have appeared in the Southern University Law Review, the Professional Landmen’s Association of New Orleans Newsletter, and The American Bar Association Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee Newsletter. Tara has even been published in a national commercial diving magazine, Underwater. Tara continued her legal education and started her career as a law clerk in the office of the Honorable Justice Catherine D. Kimball of the Louisiana Supreme Court.