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E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award

About the Award

The E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards are administered by the ABA Standing Commit­tee on Professionalism and supported by the E. Smythe Gambrell Fund for Professionalism. This Award recognizes the nation’s exemplary, innovative, and on-going professionalism programs established by law schools, bar associations, courts and other not-for-profit legal organiza­tions that help ensure the maintenance of the highest principles of integrity and dedication to the legal profession and the public. Each award carries a $3,500 prize. 

The Gambrell Awards were established in 1991 and are named for E. Smythe Gambrell, ABA and American Bar Foundation president from 1955 to 1956. Gambrell founded the Legal Aid Society in Atlanta, where he practiced law from 1922 until his death in 1986.

Nominations Are Now Closed!

Nomination Guidelines

  • Nomination Form 


Law schools, state and local bar associations, court programs and projects, law firms and not-for-profit law-related organizations with professionalism programs or projects are eligible for the awards. Programs and projects submitted for consideration must be ongoing, easily replicated, and have operated for at least one year prior to the entry deadline.

Programs should fall under the broad definition of professionalism, including those which enhance diversity, equity and inclusion, civility,  access to justice, and well-being of the profession. Past Gambrell Award winning programs/projects are ineligible.

Please Note: Submitted Nominations are maintained and will be considered for two years: the award year of submission and the following award year. Programs nominated but not selected for the Award may not be submitted in consecutive years (e.g., a program/project nominated but not selected for the Award in 2021 should not submit a new application before 2023).

Program/Project Description (not to exceed three pages)

  • Please provide a one-page executive summary of your program/project, and a detailed description of the program/project, including plans for continuing operation.

Assessment of Program/Project (not to exceed three pages)

  • State the specific goals/objectives of the project or program and how it seeks to enhance the professionalism of lawyers and/or law students.
  • State how the success of the program/project is being measured/ evaluated.
  • State how the goals are being met and how they are improving the professionalism of the lawyers and/or law students.

Program/Project Continuation-To Do Kit: (not to exceed three pages)

  • Concisely state how the program/project can be duplicated and implemented by others.
  • Include suggestions or recommendations for improvement or simplification that you would offer to others who might undertake a program/project similar to yours.

Additional Information

  • Provide any additional existing documentation (such as program brochures, news media articles, reports or report summaries, or letters of support) demonstrating the effectiveness of the program. Links to resources are appreciated.

Judging Criteria

The purpose of the E. Smythe Gambrell Awards is to recognize effective, on-going professionalism programs and projects that help preserve, promote, and enhance within the entire legal community the highest principles of professionalism, including integrity, civility, competence, fairness, diversity, equity and inclusion, independence, courage, access to justice, respect, and dedication to the legal profession and to public service. The entries will be reviewed under the direction of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism.

Factors that will be considered in selecting the winning nominations will be the distinguishing and particularly meritorious features of the program, including, but limited to:

  • Overall quality of the program
  • Ease with which other interested groups throughout the country can replicate the program
  • Established history and success of the program
  • Likelihood of continuation of the program
  • Breadth of the program for all experience levels of law students and/or lawyers
  • Proactive nature of the programs
  • Effectiveness of the program

2022 E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards Recipients

The ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism honored the following three outstanding professionalism programs with the 2022 E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards:

Texas A&M University School of Law Professional Identity Course

Professional Identity (PI) at Texas A&M University School of Law, a required 1L course since Fall 2016, emphasizes core lawyering values, the self-directed development of interpersonal competencies critical to effective law practice, and the importance of well-being. This robust program focuses on helping students develop professional values, competencies, and a professional identity at the beginning of their law school career and provides a meaningful foundation for a successful career in the practice of law by introducing students to the “foundational pillars of the legal profession, including service, justice, and civility.” The PI program meets six times in the Fall and six times in the Spring and is structured into specific class modules centered on various professionalism concepts. Examples of the topics covered in the course modules include identifying lawyering competencies, developing an authentic narrative, well-being with an emphasis on mental health, grit, resilience and strategic pivoting and leadership for lawyers. Student reflection writing exercises following each module provides students an opportunity to think more deeply about the topics discussed in class and allows the law school to assess the effectiveness of the PI program and make any necessary changes to build the program for the next year.

Baylor Law School Leadership Development Program

The Baylor Law School Leadership Development Program stands out for its deep commitment to prepare law students for their important roles as leaders in our society, emphasizing that lawyers as leaders have a special obligation to their clients and society to act with honesty, integrity, and civility in all matters. The leadership development program incorporates all essential characteristics and competencies essential to students’ professional identity formation. Created in 2013, Baylor’s Leadership Development Program consists of five major components: (1) an elective two-hour Leadership Engagement and Development course covering various topics including leadership styles and strategies, public service, and professional responsibilities; (2) 18 hours of professional development programming offered throughout the year designed for students to build skills necessary to succeed in practice and help students understand and embrace their responsibilities as a lawyer and leader in society; (3) a Leadership Fellow designation at graduation for a select few students who complete additional requirements in a Fellows program, including 25 hours of community service and serve as an intern for a charitable or community organization working a minimum of 45 hours; (4) an annual Making a Difference (MAD) Conference, featuring speakers selected to inspire students and lawyers to use their legal training to make meaningful contributions to their communities, discussing various topics, including public service, access to justice, and racial disparities; and (5) a national blog, entitled Training Lawyers as Leaders, dedicated further to encourage and support leadership development programming in legal education across the nation.  

The University of Mississippi School of Law Student Wellness Program

The University of Mississippi School of Law Student Wellness Program is a robust, multi-dimensional program aimed at helping students thrive both in law school and after graduation. Built around the foundational research supporting the recommendations of the ABA National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and the principles of the ABA Well-Being Campaign and Pledge, the Law School established the Student Wellness Program in 2018 with the objectives to promote healthy habits and lifestyles of the students in the beginning of their 1L year and communicate the relationship between wellness and professionalism. The program’s initiatives are designed to help students learn about, practice, or reflect upon at six dimensions of personal well-being: intellectual, mental/emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational/financial. Beginning with a Student Wellness Challenge, presented the first week of each new semester, students are encouraged to track the healthy things they do daily, earning points for various activities and events, and are ultimately rewarded with different levels of prizes. The student with the highest total points at the end of the semester receives the first-place prize, a much-coveted parking place in the Law School’s front parking lot. Other programming, activities, and events available to students throughout the student’s law school career also incorporate wellness, including programs on diversity, equity and inclusion and the recognition of its relationship to wellness. Orientation for first year students combines programming on wellness and professionalism followed by students taking a professionalism oath. Programs presented on National Law School Mental Health Day discuss work-life balance, financial literacy, psychological resilience, and strategies for coping with the stresses of life in the law. To provide students with the highest-quality well-being resources, the Law School partnered the University of Mississippi’s Department of Psychology to make available on-site individual, confidential counseling sessions to students free of charge. Counselors are fifth-year doctoral students in clinical psychology and licensed therapists who are supervised by the Department’s clinical faculty.  The Continuation-To-Do Kit with the “1-2-3” framework of the Student Wellness Program makes it easy for the Law School to adapt and expand the program as necessary to reflect rapidly changing student needs and preferences, new environmental factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and staffing changes. The wide-acceptance and success of the Student Wellness Program led the University to launch the Chancellor’s Wellness Challenge, modeled on the Law School’s program and available for all University of Mississippi students. 

2023 Awards Presentation

For your information and planning purposes, the formal announcement and presentation of this year's awards will take place in conjunction with the ABA 2023 Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

If you believe your organization's professionalism program or project merits national emulation and recognition, we invite you to apply for the 2023 E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards. Nominations for the 2023 Awards are now open and applications will be accepted between January 1 - March 31.

Questions regarding the awards should be directed to Briana Morris at [email protected]

Past award recipients