October 02, 2018

ABA announces 2019 Spirit of Excellence Award recipients

The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession announced the four honorees of its 2019 Spirit of Excellence Award for their commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. The awards will be presented during a ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, during the ABA Midyear Meeting at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. The awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in law.

“One of the ABA’s preeminent goals is eliminating bias and enhancing diversity in the association, the legal profession and the justice system.” Commission Chair Helen B. Kim said in noting that all the honorees fully embrace diversity and inclusion and understand the importance of providing opportunities for others while distinguishing themselves in their careers.

The ABA Spirit of Excellence Award Luncheon will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, from noon to 2 p.m. PT at Caesars Palace.

The 2019 award recipients are:

Willie E. Gary is a Florida attorney who parlayed a passionate work ethic learned from his humble beginnings in Southern migrant farming communities into a legal powerhouse career that earned him a Forbes listing as one of the “Top 50 attorneys in the U.S.” Gary was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1974 and opened his hometown’s first African-American law firm in Stuart, Fla. He has tried cases in 45 states and is in great demand as a motivational speaker, delivering speeches at law schools, universities, churches and to various groups throughout the country. He has received honorary doctorates from dozens of colleges and universities. Gary is also committed to enhancing the lives of young people. In 1994, he and his wife, Gloria, founded The Gary Foundation, which provides scholarships to youth, so they can realize their dreams of achieving a higher education (photo).

Pamela Jones Harbour, senior vice president and legal officer at Herbalife Nutrition in Los Angeles, Calif., leads a compliance team across 94 markets, developing and enhancing policies and infrastructure to ensure effective education, training and mentoring programs for independent Herbalife members worldwide. She also leads the company’s global privacy and data security efforts. Harbour was a litigation partner in three American law firms, with a specialty area in antitrust, consumer protection and data security law. She also served as a commissioner on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission from 2003-10 and in the 1990s as a deputy attorney general of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Harbour is a frequent speaker and author and has shared her knowledge in congressional testimony. She is recognized internationally for her leadership in the field of data privacy (photo).

John Lim is the managing partner of LimNexus LLP, a minority-owned corporate boutique firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. An attorney since 1982, Lim represents Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies, financial institutions, governmental entities, private equity funds, commercial developers and institutional investors in corporate, real estate and financing transactions. He regularly advises emerging high-tech ventures as outside general counsel and speaks at seminars on topics ranging from corporate governance to anti-deficiency rules in real property secured transactions. To further equal opportunity and equal access to justice, Lim actively supports public interest law groups that serve the disadvantaged and marginalized. Additionally, he and his law partners provide scholarships to diverse law students through the LimNexus Foundation (photo).

Peter M. Reyes, Jr., is a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals in St. Paul. He formerly worked as a senior intellectual property lawyer at Cargill and as a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He is active in the American Bar Association as a member of the House of Delegates, the Judicial Division, Section of Intellectual Property Law and Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section. He also served on the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities and the ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. In addition, Reyes served as national president of the Hispanic National Bar Association from 2012-13, and president of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association from 2000-03. In 2012 and 2013, Poder Magazine named him as one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America. Reyes received the 2016 Ohtli Award, the highest award the Mexican government presents to a non-Mexican citizen (photo).

The mission of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession is to promote racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. The commission serves as a catalyst for change, so that the profession may more accurately reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of society and better serve society. The commission promotes the recruitment, hiring, promotion and advancement of attorneys of color and works to ensure equal membership and employment opportunities for diverse lawyers in the ABA. The commission accomplishes this through many initiatives, activities and programs, including the annual Spirit of Excellence Award.