August 16, 2017

ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division announces 2017 award recipients

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2017 — The American Bar Association Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division has chosen the recipients to receive its 2017 Dorsey, Hodson and Nelson Awards.  The annual awards are for outstanding work in the government and public sector.

The awards will be presented at the General E. E. Anderson Awards Reception on Friday, Aug. 11, from 3:30 - 5 p.m. at the Sheraton New York Times Square (Lenox Ballroom) during the ABA Annual Meeting in New York.

The Dorsey Award honors an outstanding public defender or legal aid lawyer. The Hodson Award recognizes an outstanding government or public sector law office. The Nelson Award recognizes the outstanding contributions to the ABA by an individual government or public sector lawyer.

Pauline Weaver, GPSLD chair, says of this year’s winners, “We are so proud of these public lawyers and their commitment to service. It is a real pleasure to recognize this outstanding group of honorees.”

The 2017 Dorsey Award recipient:


Michael Barrett is the director of the Missouri State Public Defender System. He has spent his career working to improve access to justice. He once appointed the governor (a lawyer) to defend an assault suspect; he also sued him for withholding appropriated funds from the public defender, all of which has generated media attention and a renewed interest in the challenge of inadequate funding for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Having spent long hours with legislators and reporters to draw more attention to inadequate funding, recently, Barrett partnered with more than 20  large law firms to create the Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel.  These firms will work with Barrett on a pro bono basis in an effort to reduce the caseloads and improve the quality of representation. Crista Hogan, executive director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association described Barrett as, “One of the most intelligent, creative, tactical, tenacious and frankly exhausting people I have ever known.”

The 2017 Hodson Award recipient:


The Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer: The Los Angeles Times editorialized that City Attorney Mike Feuer has “set a standard that future city attorneys should strive to meet.” Feuer has led his office in achieving exceptional results in consumer protection, gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform. The office is considered a national leader in advancing the public interest. An example of the office’s work to protect consumers is evidenced in the recent law suit against Wells Fargo and the emergence of fake accounts, which resulted in broad reforms and significant penalties. The LACA is responsible for providing advice to the mayor, city council, and every city department, board and commission on every public policy issue with a legal dimension, rendering opinions construing local, state and federal law and drafting all municipal legislation. The office also serves as counsel to Los Angeles International Airport, the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The office also prosecutes an estimated 45,000 misdemeanor cases each year with a staff of 920 employees.

The 2017 Nelson Award recipient:

Patricia A. Conners began her service to the ABA in 2001 by serving as the Florida state liaison to the ABA from the National Association of Attorneys General Multistate Antitrust Task Force, where she served as chair. She was a Section of Antitrust Law Council member from 2006-09. From 2011-12, she participated on the Task Force on Reducing Cost and Delay and the section Reach Task Force from 2012-14. In 2014-15, she was a member of the Long Range Planning Committee, where she worked to make sure that their vision for the future was clear and creative. She has added value as the co-chair of the Consumer Protection Committee since 2015. Another notable achievement was her work as the co-chair of the ABA Antitrust Section Consumer Protection Conference in Atlanta; because of her outreach work before the conference, she increased attendance and broadened the pool of consumer protection lawyers now working with the ABA.

The GPSLD’s National Awards are designed to recognize the extraordinary achievements of government lawyers and to inform the general public about the outstanding work performed and the positive impact made by our nation’s public lawyers. Winners are selected on the basis of their professional accomplishments and their role in ensuring access to justice.

The 14,220 member ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division provides programs, publications, and online resources specifically designed for government, public sector and military lawyers, as well as interested law students.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.