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June 22, 2022

ABA honors 2022 recipients for government and public sector service

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2022 — Support of Afghan refugees, protecting low-income families from wrongful eviction and commitment to advancing the legal profession are some of the accomplishments recognized by the American Bar Association Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division (GPSLD) through its 2022 Dorsey, Hodson and Nelson Awards. 

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

“We know that every day public lawyers toil in the trenches to protect our democracy, improve our communities and ensure that our governments treat everyone fairly,” said Ed Monahan, chair of the ABA Government & Public Sector Lawyers Division. “GPSLD proudly recognizes the inspiring dedication of public sector lawyers while helping the community at large gain a better understanding and appreciation of their exceptional achievements.”

This year’s honorees are:

2022 Dorsey Award

Alan Mills is the executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) in Chicago. He advocates for some of the most marginalized people in our society. For the last 40 years, Mills has brought numerous class action lawsuits on behalf of people facing unconstitutional conditions in Illinois jails and prisons. In addition, he is part of a nationwide movement to end solitary confinement. He also works tirelessly to defend tenants facing wrongful eviction. During his tenure, Mills successfully ensured UPLC’s financial stability and expansion, increasing UPLC’s staff from four to 12. His exemplary leadership serves as a role model for others in the legal aid community.

2022 Hodson Award

The 21st Theater Sustainment Command Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Department of the U.S. Army (The 21st TSC OSJA), advises Army commanders across eight European countries and provides support to thousands of military personnel and DoD civilians. The 21st TSC OSJA’s legal advice allowed commanders to navigate waves of Covid-19 infections and a myriad of DoD, U.S. and host nation guidelines while accomplishing their mission, including the successful completion of Defender 21, a 26-nation multi-exercise event with nearly 30,000 service members training together across Europe. After the Taliban captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the 21st TSC OSJA provided legal support and coordinated with other agencies to ensure that evacuees were treated compassionately, humanely and lawfully. The procedures used by the 21st TSC OSJA were reviewed by the Department of State and shared across the DoD to be used by others assisting Afghan travelers. Most recently, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the 21st TSC OSJA is providing legal guidance on fiscal law issues related to building sustainment capabilities and humanitarian assistance, use of force briefings for troop diversion and increased operations, and international law issues related to movement of personnel and matériel.

2022 Nelson Award

The late Gilda “Jill” Mariani, was a former senior investigative counsel for the New York County District Attorney’s Office. Through her many hours of volunteer work for the American Bar Association, Mariani contributed substantively to improving the legal profession. Prior to her death in December 2021, she wrote articles for ABA periodicals, served as a panelist for educational programs and spearheaded efforts to pass ABA resolutions that subsequently became ABA policy. Mariani drafted and successfully advocated for an ABA resolution on the health and well-being of military dogs and more recently, a resolution focused on urging the enactment of laws authorizing courts to allow specially trained dogs to assist victims or witnesses during their participation in the criminal justice system. Her article on the topic of courtroom dogs was featured in the Winter 2022 issue of The Public Lawyer.

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

The 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.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers 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.