Honoring the Public Sector's Finest

The Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division's annual awards program recognizes the extraordinary achievements of government lawyers and informs the general public about their outstanding work and the positive impact they make to our communities.

2020 Award Winners

The Dorsey Award recipient is Casey N. Payton, Supervising Attorney for Legal Services of The Virgin Islands, Inc. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Ms. Payton led the mammoth effort to administer the disaster legal services program in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Hodson Award went to the Toledo Legal Aid Society (TLAS) for its robust work in criminal justice reform.

The late Lieutenant Colonel Gary Anderson (U.S. Army Ret.) is the winner of the Nelson Award. Anderson devoted literally hundreds of volunteer hours to the ABA. He worked especially hard to ensure that military lawyers were well represented and that their voice was heard within the ABA.

GPSLD's awards reception is named in honor of one of the founders of our division, the late General E.E. Anderson, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired. General Anderson was the youngest active duty Marine ever promoted to the rank of General. General Anderson served as GPSLD chair, GPSLD delegate and was a division leader until his death in 2015. In 2014, he was awarded the ABA’s highest honor, the ABA Medal. In accepting the award, he said that he believes “with all my heart that the American Bar Association keeps the ligament of justice strong. The ABA is an organization that works tirelessly for freedom and justice and whose moral compass is pointed always to true north.” This year, we are not holding the awards reception due to the pandemic.

Read more about the 2020 winners!

Nomination Information

Dorsey Award
The Dorsey Award honors an outstanding public defender or legal aid lawyer. The Award was named for the late Charles H. Dorsey, Jr., long-time Executive Director of Maryland's Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. and a champion of the poor and underprivileged.

Hodson Award
The Hodson Award recognizes sustained outstanding service or a specific extraordinary accomplishment by a government or public sector law office. (This is not an award for an individual). The award is named in honor of the distinguished public service career of the late Major General Kenneth J. Hodson, a former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army.

Nelson Award
The Nelson Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the ABA by an individual government or public sector lawyer. The Award was established as a tribute to the late L. Clair Nelson, who contributed his loyalty, time and extraordinary talent to the ABA.