Standing Committee on Gavel Awards

All Gavel Award entries are first reviewed by an approximately 50-person screening committee. Screeners include lawyers, judges, journalists, scholars, and other volunteers.

Award Categories


Full-length (at least 50,000 words) books of nonfiction with ISBNs. Only “hard copy” entries may be submitted (5 books).


Open to commentary, editorials, columns, criticism, editorial cartoons, blogs, and other opinion journalism, regardless of medium of production or dissemination (i.e., print, online, video, and audio entries are all eligible).


Film and video documentaries (non-fiction, unscripted), whether or not they were telecast on television, on the web, or independently screened. Companion websites may be submitted as part of entries.

Drama & Literature

Open to drama and literature, regardless of medium of production or dissemination (i.e., film, television, books and other media are eligible), including docudramas, episodes of dramatic television series, original dramatic films produced for general theatrical release or for television, novels, plays, and short stories may be submitted as part of entries.


Any article or series published by a magazine (periodical or journal). Magazines may submit both (or either) print and digital content.


Open to digital and other media entries not subsumed under other award categories. Includes entries representing multiple, hybrid, or convergent media. Must include substantial new content produced during 2020. Online entries must be submitted as ONE URL to be eligible. All digital entries must be publicly accessible through August 31, 2021.


Any news article or series published by a newspaper. This category includes investigative, explanatory and other deadline and non-deadline reporting, as well as features. The newspaper may operate with print or digital formats, or both. Open to dailies and weeklies.


Any audio program telecast by network, satellite, or individual radio stations. Included in this category are investigative, explanatory, and other deadline or non-deadline reporting, talk radio, and features. Also eligible are original audio webcasts or podcasts. Companion websites may be submitted as part of entries.


Any program (including documentaries) telecast by cable, network, or individual television stations during the period of eligibility. Also eligible are original video webcasts. Companion websites may be submitted as part of entries.

1958-2017 Winners

These past winners have been selected for the Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which recognize outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system. This is the ABA’s highest honor in recognition of this purpose.