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Nelson Award

The Nelson Award was established as a tribute to the late L. Clair Nelson, who served as a Council member of the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division. He contributed his loyalty, time and extraordinary talent to American Bar Association activities and held numerous leadership positions within the ABA. The Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the ABA by a government or public sector lawyer, and all government and public sector lawyers are eligible nominees. The Division will consider an individual's specific extraordinary accomplishments as well as sustained superior contributions to the ABA over a number of years.


Please email your nomination as a PDF document to [email protected]. Please put "Award Submission" in the subject line. Nominations are due by 5:00 pm Eastern on April 8, 2024.

Nominee Information Required*

  1. Full name, title, address, telephone number, e-mail address of nominee, and percentage of funding provided to the nominee's office by the government. Also provide a complete list of the states/jurisdictions (including bar admission dates) in which the nominee is licensed to practice law.
  2. Summary of nominee's outstanding service and/or achievements (25 to 100 words).
  3. Detailed narrative explanation of the nominee's service to the ABA including the following information: how the nominee's service is outstanding, significant and "above the call of duty”; the time frame of the service; and assessment of the impact of the extraordinary service. (600 to 800 words).
  4. Contact information for three references who are familiar with nominee's achievements.
  5. Specifically for the nominator: provide contact information and a brief statement about yourself including any information that would assist the Awards Committee in evaluating the nomination.

* The Awards Committee is unable to review supplemental materials in addition to what is required above.

Past Nelson Award Recipients

1994 L. Clair Nelson, Washington, DC (presented posthumously)

1995 Charles H. Dorsey, Baltimore, MD (presented posthumously)

1996 John W. Witt, San Diego, CA

1997 Members of the Task Force on Government Lawyer Participation in the ABA: General E.E. Anderson, Vienna, VA; Neil R. Eisner, Ky P. Ewing, Jr., Karen Hastie Williams, Otto J. Hetzel, and Margaret Colgate Love, Washington, DC

1998 Major Michael Warner Meadows, Charlottesville, VA

1999 Pamila Brown, Baltimore, MD

2000 Richard P. Lynch, Shepherdstown, WV

2001 John Jay Douglass, Houston, TX

2002 Sharon E. Pandak, Prince William County, VA

2003 Judge John R. Tunheim, Minneapolis, MN

2004 David J. DeVries, Harrisburg, PA

2005 David C. Caylor, Irving, TX

2006 John J. Copelan, Jr., Tallahassee, FL

2007 David A. Anderson, Dunn Loring, VA

2008 Judge Ellen F. Rosenblum, Salem, OR

2009 Allen Giles, Minneapolis, MN

2010 Randolph Tritell, Washington, DC

2012 Darcee S. Siegel, North Miami Beach, FL

2013 Pauline A. Weaver, Fremont, CA

2014 Margaret Kuroda Masunaga, Kealakekua, HI

2015 Major General Kenneth D. Gray (USA Ret.), Morgantown, WV

2016 Hon. Edwin L. Felter, Jr., Denver, CO

2017 Patricia Conners, Tallahassee, FL

2018 Denise R. Avant, Chicago, IL

2019 James M. Durant III, SES, Col. (U.S. Air Force Ret.)

2020 Lt. Col. Gary Anderson (U.S. Army Ret.) (presented posthumously)

2021 Tara Isa Koslov, Washington, DC

2022 Gilda (Jill) Mariani, New York, NY (presented posthumously)

2023 Mary Smith