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April 18, 2019

San Francisco lawyer James J. Brosnahan to receive ABA 2019 Pickering Award

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2019 — James J. Brosnahan, senior trial counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP, is the 2019 recipient of the John H. Pickering Award of Achievement, presented by the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division. Brosnahan will be recognized at the Senior Lawyers Division annual Pickering Award dinner at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in the Crystal Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8, during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The award honors the life and accomplishments of John H. Pickering, co-founder of the Washington, D.C. law firm then known as Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale), who was involved in a variety of pro bono activities and law-related societal issues affecting the elderly. It recognizes lawyers or judges who demonstrate outstanding legal ability; and have compiled a distinguished record of service to the profession and their communities, resulting in significant contributions to improving access to justice for all.

"James Brosnahan exemplifies the qualities the John Pickering Award recognizes: not only is he a brilliant practitioner who has contributed to the legal profession and his community, but he has consistently demonstrated his commitment to access to justice for all,” said Brooksley Born, chair of the 2019 Pickering Selection Committee.

Brosnahan started his career as an assistant United States Attorney in Arizona and the Northern District of California. He worked at Cooper White and Cooper and began his career at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco in 1976.

Having practiced trial and appellate law for more than 50 years, Brosnahan is considered a “lion” of the trial bar and is one of the most recognized and respected trial lawyers in America. He has tried, to conclusion, more than 140 cases.

Brosnahan has received numerous awards for his devotion to public service, contributions to the improvement of the litigation process, and his commitment to mentoring countless young lawyers. He’s also held various positions of leadership in the bar and in public interest organizations.  He founded the Volunteer Lawyers Service Program and the Minority Committee in the Bar Association of San Francisco. His pursuit of achieving diversity has resulted in the hiring and retaining of women, LGBTQ lawyers, and lawyers of all racial and ethnic groups. The author of “Trial Handbook for California Lawyers,” Brosnahan is an avid teacher of trial practice and litigation and teaches a class on persuasion at the University of California Berkeley Law.

A past president of the Bar Association of San Francisco and a past Teacher of the Year for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Brosnahan is a 1959 graduate of Harvard Law School. He graduated from Boston College in 1956.

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 and on Twitter @ABANews.