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About the Award

The Section initiated the National Public Service Award in 1994 as part of its pro bono efforts.  The ABA Business Law Section National Public Service Award recognizes significant pro bono legal contributions of law firms, corporate law departments and individual business lawyers that demonstrate a commitment to providing legal services to individuals and entities that could not otherwise afford them.

Past recipients have demonstrated dedication to the development or delivery of pro bono legal services at the trial, appellate, and Supreme Court level, contributed significant work toward developing innovative approaches to the delivery of pro bono legal services, and/or provided sustained pro bono legal counsel to nonprofit organizations or to micro and small business enterprises in aid of community development.

Nomination Process

Nominations for 2024 will open in late 2023.

Applicants may self-nominate. Submissions may be considered for the three upcoming years.  Please contact Chad Johannes ([email protected] or 312-988-6027) with any questions.

2023 Award Recipients

Rachel Brown

As Director of Pro Bono and Social Impact for Davis Wright Tremaine, Rachel oversees pro bono and social impact projects and initiatives, creates internal and external campaigns, directs operations of the department, and oversees the direction of client pro bono partnerships. Rachel’s work is helping some of the largest in-house legal departments in the U.S. build out internal pro bono programs; by helping in-house departments build out their internal pro bono infrastructure, more in-house attorneys can participate in pro bono, which also helps the companies they work for reach their Corporate Social Responsibility goals. This work is effectively addressing the longstanding gap in the in-house legal marketplace, as in-house departments, unlike law firms, have long not been resourced or incentivized to do pro bono work. Rachel’s work has helped build new pro bono pathways for in-house business attorneys to serve those in our community that otherwise wouldn’t have access to legal representation. Because of her incredible diligence, work ethic, innovative approach, and commitment to doing good, Rachel was asked to serve as Secretary of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo). During her first year on the board, she was asked to be on the programming committee because of the initiatives that she is developing at DWT. She has also created a podcast for the APBCo podcast series.

Miller Johnson’s Project Giveback Team

In February 2021, Miller Johnson launched "Project Giveback," a pro bono service initiative providing access, resources and solutions to individuals, businesses and non-profits in Michigan that have been historically underserved by the legal system and/or underrepresented/underfunded in the business community. The project engages team members from multiple practices and firm functions with wide-ranging support for small businesses, survivors of domestic violence, immigrants (especially refugees and asylum-seekers), Veterans and individuals eligible for expungement.

Overall, Project Giveback has provided more than 5,000 hours of pro bono support to more than 150 clients since its launch in February 2021. The "phantom receipts" (converts time spent on pro bono matters into "phantom receipts" that count toward financial productivity metrics, calculating bonuses, firm advancement/promotion decisions and other similar financial issues) associated with these hours (a rough estimate of the market value of the legal services) has exceeded $1.75 million in the same timeframe. Over 100 timekeepers have worked on these matters, including 34 members (partners), 34 associates and counsel, 16 summer associates and 16 paralegals. In addition, dozens of firm administrative personnel have been involved in Project Giveback programs that do not involve the provision of legal services (e.g., mentoring small business owners, providing support to Veterans, facilitating client intake, designing project and information management systems, marketing our clients' successes, etc.). Additionally, beyond the pro bono work falling under the "Project Giveback" framework, Miller Johnson attorneys performed a further 2,175 hours of pro bono service in 2021 and 2022, raising the overall total pro bono hours investment to approximately 7,200 hours in the 2021-2022 period.

Alfredo Silva

Morrison Foerster (“MoFo”) Corporate partner Alfredo Silva’s career is defined by his unwavering commitment to using his legal skills to advance equality and increase access to justice and economic opportunity. On a pro bono basis, he works extensively with nonprofit organizations, providing advice on fiduciary issues, entity formation, hybrid for-profit/nonprofit structuring, and other corporate matters. He also assists minority-owned small businesses and mission-oriented social ventures through the firm’s pro bono program. Alfredo has also integrated these issues into his day-to-day practice. He co-chairs the firm’s industry-leading Social Enterprise + Impact Investing practice group, which is at the forefront of developments and the application of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles and represents clients looking to address the world’s most pressing problems with equity, sustainability, and resource scarcity. To this end, through the firm’s pro bono program and through his billable practice, Alfredo represents some of the most innovative businesses developing transformative technologies and solutions in the life sciences, agtech, and fintech sectors.

While Alfredo regularly works on complex, cutting-edge matters on behalf of his innovative clients, he leverages his expertise to also advise on hugely impactful pro bono matters. A diversity champion and a recognized leader, mentor, and role model, Alfredo also has a robust pro bono practice. Since he joined the firm in 2008, he has worked on dozens of pro bono matters, contributing approximately 2000 pro bono hours. He has also been a key member of the firmwide Pro Bono Committee since 2014. Alfredo does not just do the work, he also inspires the same dedication in countless others at the firm. Leveraging his expertise, advocacy, and mentoring role, Alfredo trains colleagues and mentors junior attorneys on nonprofit governance issues, enabling other lawyers at the firm to provide the same crucial support that he has throughout his career.

Past Recipients

  • 2022
    • Firm: Fenwick & West LLP
    • Individual: Anna Dodson
  • 2021
    • Firm: Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
    • Corporate Law Department: The Startup Legal Garage
  • 2020
    • Individual: Linda Arnsbarger
    • Individual: Grace Robson
    • Firm: Dechert LLP
  • 2019
    • Individual: G. Eric Brunstad Jr.
    • Firm: DLA Piper
  • 2018
    • Corporate Law Department: Arizona Intel Legal Team
    • Firm: Duane Morris LLP
    • Corporate Law Department: Exelon Corporation
  • 2017
    • Firm: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP
    • Individual: Lorri Anne Dunsmore
  • 2016
    • Firm: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
    • Corporate Law Department: Turner Broadcasting System
    • Individual: Susan Mac Cormac
  • 2015
    • Firm: Seyfarth Shaw LLP
    • Individual: Robert Scott
  • 2014
    • Firm: Sidley Austin LLP
    • Firm: Goodwin Procter LLP
    • Individual: Donald Parman
  • 2013
    • Firm: Troutman Sanders LLP
    • Corporate Law Department: Verizon
    • Individual: James L. Patterson
  • 2012
    • Firm: Ropes & Gray LLP
    • Corporate Law Department: Coca-Cola Company
    • Individuals: Andrea S. Kramer and Lisa Kaderabek
  • 2011
    • Firm: DLA Piper
    • Firm: Dykema
  • 2010
    • Individual: Douglas L. Rogers
    • Firm: IBM Law Department
  • 2009
    • Individual: Heidi Y. Echols
    • Firm: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
  • 2008
    • Individual: Alison McKinnell King
    • Firm: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  • 2007
    • Individual: Conrad G. Bahlke
    • Firm: Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
  • 2006
    • Individual: David Punzak
    • Firm: Skadden Arps
  • 2005
    • Individual: L. Joseph Genereux
    • Firm: Cooley Godward, LLP