2013 Robert F. Drinan Award

Stephen F. Hanlon


The ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR) is proud to announce that former Section Chair Stephen F. Hanlon was awarded the 2013 Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service to the Section.

The award, named in honor of the late Father Robert F. Drinan, a former member of Congress who chaired the Section from 1990 to 1991, recognizes service to the Section that advances its mission of providing leadership to the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.

Steve served as Section Chair from 2004 to 2005.  Under his leadership, the Section sponsored ABA policy resolutions calling for patients’ rights to receive all relevant and necessary information to make fully informed health care decisions and supporting the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act; drafted ABA amicus curiae briefs in the Goodman v. Georgia and Jackson v. Birmingham U.S. Supreme Court cases; and began several new initiatives, including an environment justice essay competition for law students and a Section diversity program.  Steve also has served as Chair of the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project and as a member of the ABA Commission on the Legal Problems of the Elderly, the Coordinating Group on Bioethics and the Law, and the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants.  He is a Past Chair of the Florida Bar Association’s Public Interest Law Section and is Chairman of the Board of The Constitution Project. Steve earned his J.D. in 1966 and has dedicated his life to protecting the civil rights of his clients.  Throughout his career, he has fought to end HIV/AIDS in employment discrimination, and for improvements to patient and prisoner rights.  In 1989, he founded the Community Services Team (CST) at Holland & Knight’s Community Services Team, with the primary goal of providing legal representation to those who are unable to afford it.  Steve retired from Holland & Knight in December 2012.

Steve recently received the 2012 Champions & Visionaries Award from The National Law Journal.  He also earned the highest award from Holland & Knight in 2006 when he accepted the Chesterfield Smith Award.  As a result of his tireless pro bono efforts, he has received several human rights awards and distinctions, including the Pro Bono award from The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section; the Equal Justice Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights; and the Human Rights Advocacy Award from the Tampa Union League. 

The Drinan Award was presented to Hanlon at a reception on Feb.  8, in Dallas, Texas, during the ABA Midyear Meeting.