chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
Committee charged with nominating the Robert J. Kutak Award recipient

Kutak Award Committee

This committee receives nominations and determines a nominee for the Section's Annual Robert J. Kutak Award. The award is presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the collaboration of the academy, the bench and the bar. The award is in memory of Mr. Kutak, a distinguished Omaha lawyer, champion of legal reform, and advocate for legal education.

2025 Kutak Award

Nominations are sought for the 2025 Robert J. Kutak Award. Established in 1985 by the Section and the national Kutak Rock law firm, the award honors an individual who has made significant contributions to the collaboration of the academy, the bench, and the bar. The award is in memory of Mr. Kutak, a distinguished Omaha lawyer, champion of legal reform, and advocate for legal education.

Please email Erin Winters at [email protected] with your nomination  by Friday, March 7, 2025.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and the national Kutak Rock law firm established the Robert J. Kutak Award in 1984. Most recipients have been members of the Section and active participants in its work.

2023-2024 Kutak Committee

Chair
Rebecca Hanner White
Dean and Professor Emeritus
University of Georgia
School of Law

Gail Agrawal
Dean Emerita and Professor
Univeristy of Iowa College of Law

Diane F. Bosse
Special Counsel
Hurwitz Fine P.C.

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Professor
Berkeley Law

Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Dean and Professor
Boston University 
School of Law

Luis Felipe Restrepo
Judge
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Charles A. Smiley, III
Judge
Alameda County Superior Court

About Robert J. Kutak

Robert J. Kutak was a founding partner of the national law firm of Kutak Rock LLP. Mr. Kutak’s sudden death from a heart attack in 1983 cut short a remarkable career characterized by a strong dedication to public service, to the improvement of justice, to legal education and training, to prison reform and to the visual arts.

Mr. Kutak held leadership roles in a variety of professional projects of the American Bar Association, including membership on the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and chair of the ABA Section on Individual Rights.

At the time of his death, he had just concluded five years as chair of the ABA Commission on Evaluation of Professional Standards, the body that produced the monumental new set of rules for the professional conduct of members of the American Bar.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and the national Kutak Rock law firm established the Robert J. Kutak Award in 1984. The Kutak award is awarded annually to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to the collaboration of the academy, the bench, and the bar. Most recipients have been members of the Section and active participants in its work.

Dean Emeritus Leo P. Martinez is the 2024 Robert J. Kutak Award Recipient 

Leo Martinez is Dean Emeritus and Albert Abramson Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of California College of the Law San Francisco. He is currently a Managing Director at Andersen, the tax and financial services firm.

Professor Martinez is a past Chair of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. He is a past President of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). He has chaired or served on more than thirty law school site evaluation visits, and he has assisted more than a dozen law schools in their strategic planning. He is currently Vice-Chair of the WASC Senior College & University Commission (WSCUC).  He is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI), he was one of the academic advisers on the ALI’s Principles of the Law of Liability Insurance project, and he was a member of the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education that issued its final report in 2014. He received Public Advocates’ Voices of Conscience Award in 2011, he was elected an honorary fellow of the American College of Coverage Counsel in 2017, and he was presented with the Visionary Award by the then UC Hastings Board of Directors in 2018.

Professor Martinez has lectured and written extensively on legal education and on his chosen fields of tax and insurance law throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia. He is a co-author of a leading insurance law casebook now in its ninth edition, a co-editor of a four-volume insurance treatise, and the author of many articles on tax, insurance law, and legal education that have appeared in journals including the Stanford Law ReviewTulane Law ReviewRutgers Law ReviewYale Law and Policy ReviewChina EU Law JournalABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Journal, and Global Jurist.

Outside of academia, Professor Martinez has been an active participant in local and national non-profit organizations that seek to improve the world. He has chaired the boards of five different non-profit organizations including KQED, Inc., Public Advocates, Inc., the St. Francis Hospital Foundation, Public Media Company, and, most recently, the Public Media Venture Group (a consortium of more than 25 public television stations). His past affiliations include a 14-year stint on the Access Group (now AccessLex) board of directors, a 10-year term as a member of the board of CollegeTrack, a Bay Area-based organization that provides mentoring for high school students living in low-income and underserved areas, and a 6-year term as a member of the University of Kansas (his alma mater) Chancellor’s Advisory Board.

Kutak Award Committee Chair Rebecca Hanner White remarked: “I am delighted that Leo Martinez is the 2024 recipient of the Kutak award.  Leo’s service to the academy and to the legal profession have enhanced and made both stronger. As his nominator, Dean Mary Crossley said in her nomination letter, ‘sustained engagement with the practicing bar…sets Leo apart as an academic,’ aptly noting that Leo has ‘contributed to the integration of the values and activities of the three central pillars of the legal profession—the bench, the bar, and the legal academy.’ For example, Leo has served as Advisor to the American Law Institute’s Restatement on the Law of Liability Insurance, as a law school professor, as a law school Dean, and as an active and committed participant in the law school accreditation process. Leo has served as both the President of the AALS and on its Executive Committee, and as the Chair of the Council on the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar and on its Executive Committee. His impact cannot be overstated. Simply put, his leadership and contributions to legal education and to the profession make Leo Martinez the ideal recipient of this important honor.” 

The Kutak Award is presented annually to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to the collaboration of the legal academy, the bench, and the bar. The award was established in memory of Mr. Kutak, a respected Omaha lawyer, who was committed to legal reform and a strong advocate for legal education. Mr. Martinez will be presented with the award at the Section’s May 2024 Council and Kutak Award Dinner in Chicago. 

Past Award Recipients

2023 Diane F. Bosse
2022 Emerita Chancellor & Dean Mary Kay Kane
2021 Professor Joan S. Howland
2020 The Honorable Ruth V. McGregor
2019 The Honorable Christine M. Durham 
2018 The Honorable Solomon Oliver, Jr.
2017 Edward N. Tucker
2016 Pauline A. Schneider
2015 E. Thomas Sullivan
2014 John F. O'Brien
2013 Erica Moeser
2012 Jeffrey E. Lewis
2011 John D. Feerick
2010 Robert K. Walsh
2009 Gerald W. Vande Walle
2008 Rennard Strickland
2007 Cruz Reynoso
2006 Sandra Day O’Connor
2005 Geoffrey C. Hazard
2004 Harry T. Edwards
2003 Nina Appel
2002 Anthony G. Amsterdam
2001 James P. White
2000 Henry Ramsey, Jr.
1999 Peter A. Winograd
1998 Talbot D’Alemberte
1997 Harry Edward Groves
1996 Norman Redlich
1995 Robert MacCrate
1994 Rosalie E. Wahl
1993 Frank E. A. Sander
1992 Harold Gill Reuschlein
1991 Gordon D. Schaber
1990 Samuel D. Thurman
1989 Sharp Whitmore
1988 Millard H. Ruud
1987 Robert B. McKay
1986 Robert W. Meserve
1985 Richardson W. Nahstoll
1984 William J. Pincus