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July 14, 2022

ABA to honor four attorneys and law office at event celebrating government law efforts

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2022 — The American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law will honor Iowa lawyer James C. Hanks, California lawyer Edward Thomas, Boston College Law School Professor Thomas Mitchell, City of Evanston Law Department and Atlanta lawyer Anamaria Hazard with Jefferson B. Fordham Awards at a luncheon at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago on Friday, Aug. 5, at 12-2 p.m. CDT at Maggiano’s Restaurant.

Michigan’s 43rd Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is the keynote speaker.

“Each of these honorees advance the practice of state and local government law and we are proud of their efforts and accomplishments,” said Steven F. Stapleton, chair of the Section of State and Local Government Law. “They are role models for all state and local government law practitioners.”

The Jefferson B. Fordham Awards are the highest honors given by the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law. The awards honor the accomplishments of those who have been active in the various areas of state and local government law. The award is named for the section’s first chair in 1949. Fordham diligently served and made the section the national resource for the advancement of State and Local Government Law practice.

The Jefferson B. Fordham awardees are:

The Lifetime Achievement Award (Jefferson B. Fordham, Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award) is presented in recognition of outstanding contributions to the practice of state and local government law by an individual over an entire career, for contributions over several years of service.

  • James C. Hanks is a retired shareholder with the Des Moines, Iowa, firm of Ahlers & Cooney, P.C. and author of the book, “School Bullying: How Long is the Arm of the Law, 2nd Ed.” His law firm represented many local government bodies, including cities, counties, airports, special-use districts, school districts, community colleges and area education agencies. For 12 years, Hanks represented the governor of the state of Iowa in labor negotiations on behalf of the executive branch of the state. The principal emphasis of his practice was in employment, local government and educational law, and during his career he negotiated more than 1,000 collective bargaining agreements. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate and Rhodes Scholar nominee, Hanks earned his law degree from the College of Law of the University of Iowa.
  • Edward Thomas is president emeritus of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association in Rancho Mirage, California, and manages a private practice of law, Edward A. Thomas, Esq., LLC. He currently serves as a technical advisor to the Coachella Valley Disaster Preparedness Network. He an editor and author of the recently published ABA Community Resilience Handbook. An expert at collaborating with people in communities where foreseeable elements of nature become disasters, during his career at HUD and FEMA, Thomas collaborated closely with individuals, companies, non-profit organizations and local communities to develop safe and affordable housing and results- oriented floodplain management and hazard mitigation. He served as the federal coordinating officer, the president’s representative, and also worked closely with disaster survivors on about 200 disasters and emergencies.

The Advocacy Award is presented in recognition of outstanding legal advocacy within the area of state and local government law. This award celebrates excellence in advocacy, both written and otherwise.

  • Thomas W. Mitchell is a professor at Boston College Law School, where he is the Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Endowed Chair and serves as the director of the Initiative on Promoting Land and Housing Rights, which seeks to help disadvantaged people and communities stabilize and secure important property rights. He is a national expert on property issues facing disadvantaged families and communities and has published scholarly works addressing these matters. In 2020, Mitchell received the MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of the impact his professional work has had in assisting disadvantaged farmers and property owners, people who are disproportionately but not exclusively African American and other people of color. He is the lead co-editor and contributing author to the ABA book, titled Heirs’ Property and the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act: Challenges, Solutions, and Historic Reform. Mitchell is a graduate of Amherst College, the Howard University School of Law and the University of Wisconsin Law School where he received an LL.M. (Master of Law) and served as a William H. Hastie Fellow.

The Law Office Accomplishment Award is presented in recognition of sustained outstanding performance or a specific extraordinary accomplishment by a state and local government law office. Eligible candidates include all state and local government public sector law offices, including departments or units within such offices.

  • City of Evanston Law Department in Illinois is the primary legal advisory dedicated to elected officials, city government departments and boards and commissions. The law department represents the city in litigation, land acquisition, and disposition and assessments. It prosecutes non-jailable violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code and city ordinance violations, including housing violations. The department also drafts and reviews all ordinances, resolutions and city contracts. The office has been involved in formulating policies for a restorative justice housing program in the city.

The Up & Comers Award is presented to a young practitioner (up to age 36) who, through their efforts and accomplishments show great promise to continue these contributions for future achievements.

  • Anamaria Hazard, managing associate, Dentons, Atlanta, Georgia, is a native of Northern California. She earned her J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law with a certification in environmental and land use law and her B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. The former assistant city attorney for the City of Atlanta, her practice focuses on municipal law, commercial real estate and zoning, planning and land-use matters. Hazard works to mitigate legal policy issues surrounding affordable housing. She also provides pro bono representation to low-income tenants through the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer Foundation, low-income homeowners through Neighbor in Need and participates in programs that help low-income seniors draft wills and estate documents.

Reporters interested in attending the ABA 2022 Annual Meeting, should contact Media Relations and Strategic Communications at [email protected]. All reporters must provide proof of credentials and vaccination status

The ABA is the largest 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.