December 11, 2020

National Public Service Award

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 must be “submitted via online form by Wednesday, February 24, 2021. All nominators will be notified of the status of their nomination by April 1, 2021.

Applicants may self-nominate. Submissions may be considered for the three upcoming years.  Please contact Gina Dickinson (gina.dickinson@americanbar.org or 312-988-5316) with any questions.

2020 Award Recipients

Linda Arnsbarger

In her 30+ years of practice at Morrison Foerster, Linda Arnsbarger has compiled an extraordinary record of public service consisting of over 3,300 hours of pro bono legal advice to nonprofit and social enterprise clients. Linda’s experience and expertise have made her an invaluable resource of non-profit knowledge both within her firm and for her pro bono clients.

One of Linda’s long-time pro bono clients is the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America, now known as Apraxia Kids. Linda’s work with Apraxia Kids spanned from before its founding in 2000 until its growth recently enabled it to hire outside counsel, encompassing a wide range of issues including tax exemption, contract drafting, and copyright disputes.

The hundreds of nonprofits that have benefited from Linda’s pro bono counsel encompass a great variety of matters across the globe. They include an organization that advocates for food justice and health equity in DC, an association that provides conservation programs in the Amazon region, an organization that works to improve maternal health in East Africa, and a group that runs schools for low-income children in Cambodia.

Grace Robson

Grace Robson is an esteemed Business Law Section member who has served as Co-Chair of the Pro Bono Services Subcommittee of the Business Law Section's Business Bankruptcy Committee for several years. In that role, under her leadership and guidance she has developed programming dedicated to Pro Bono issues in the law and the advancement of attorney education in that arena.

Her impact on the pro bono efforts within the Business Law Section reflects her commitment to pro bono work that can be found throughout her legal career. One of her more notable Pro Bono representations, with wide ranging impact, was for the Switchboard of Miami. Despite troubled economic times, she was able to ensure that this a long-running crisis hotline operating as a not for profit.

Grace also dedicates much of her time to financial literacy initiatives on a pro bono basis. She serves as a mentor and role model to many young lawyers in the South Florida community, teaching them how to not just be a strong lawyer, but also the importance of giving back to the community in the process.

Dechert LLP

Dechert law firm presently maintains approximately 1,500 active pro bono matters, with a little more than half involving the representation of nonprofits, small businesses, social impact investors or social enterprises. Through collaboration with Exponentum, formerly the National Network of Business Law Pro Bono Providers, Dechert lawyers generously donate their expertise in just about every corporate and transactional area, in matters of varied complexity and scope, to benefit nonprofit organizations and low-income entrepreneurs nationwide.

The pro bono clients they serve require legal assistance across their lifecycles to transact the business that enables them to pursue their missions, operate, grow and comply with a constantly changing set of applicable local, state and federal laws.

The breadth of Dechert’s work is reflected in work with organizations in New York City; nonprofit clients in Connecticut; small business and nonprofit clients in Philadelphia; and several matters for the Justice and Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco and Public Counsel, among others.

Past Recipients

  • 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