Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award

About the Award

The Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award is named in honor of Michael Franck, late director of the State Bar of Michigan and long-time champion of improvements in lawyer regulation in the public interest. From the time of his first major undertaking in the name of legal professionalism—serving as reporter to the ABA Clark Commission investigating the state of lawyer discipline in America—to his final years speaking on the floor of the ABA House of Delegates to promote improvements in the Model Code of Judicial Conduct and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Michael Franck’s work stood as a benchmark for turning intellectual honesty, compassion, and uncompromising ethics to every aspect of the practice of law.

In an era when lawyers’ dedication to the public good is often questioned, the Michael Franck award brings deserved attention to individuals whose career commitments in areas such as legal ethics, disciplinary enforcement and lawyer professionalism demonstrate the best accomplishments of lawyers.

Although a nominee’s significant contributions to the work of the organized bar merit strong consideration by the selection committee, noteworthy scholarly contributions made in academic settings, creative judicial or legislative initiatives undertaken to advance the professionalism of lawyers, and other related accomplishments will also be given consideration.

In 2003 the Center for Professional Responsibility Coordinating Council voted to change the venue of the Michael Franck Award ceremony to the annual National Conference on Professional Responsibility held each June instead of during the ABA Annual Meeting each August. Due to this venue change, the Council did not select a 2004 award recipient.

Nominations are now opened.
Submission Deadline is December 31, 2020.

Nomination Process

  • Nomination form 
  • Please attach separate documents which describe the accomplishments, contributions and/ or initiatives of the nominee in the area of professional responsibility. Please include the significance of the nominee’s impact.
  • Please include reports or articles evidencing the nominee’s contributions.
  • A resume of the nominee’s history of involvement in the field of professional responsibility, may be substituted in support of your nomination.
  • Please include up to three letters of support.

The 2021 ABA Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award will be presented on June 3, 2021, during the 46th ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility in Denver, CO.

Please contact us at via email with any questions.

2020 Award Recipient

Robert Mundheim

“An exemplary lawyer whose career has demonstrated that zealous advocacy can go hand in hand with a commitment to professional responsibility, fiduciary duty, and the ethical practice of law.”

Robert Mundheim, (Harvard University Law School LL.B., 1957), is the recipient of the 2020 Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award from the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility. Robert Mundheim is of counsel to Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York City, specializing in corporate governance. 

After initially starting out in private practice, Mundheim took on a variety of posts in academia and the public, corporate, and private sectors. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was Dean from 1982 to 1989. Mundheim was general counsel to the U.S. Treasury Department from 1977 to 1980, playing a prominent role in negotiating the release of U.S. hostages in Iran. He was also a cochairman of Fried Frank, and in 1992 became senior executive vice president and general counsel of investment bank Salomon Smith Barney, before returning to private practice at Shearman & Sterling in 1999.  Read more

Past Award Recipients