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June 20, 2024

ABA honors 2024 public service award recipients

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2024 — Creating a public defender system that guarantees quality representation for thousands, helping asylum seekers in shelters file asylum applications, and elevating the voice of the public lawyer are some of the accomplishments recognized by the American Bar Association Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division (GPSLD) through its 2024 Dorsey, Hodson and Nelson Awards. The recipients will receive the awards during the 2024 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago at the General E.E. Anderson Awards reception on Friday, Aug. 2 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Swissotel Chicago.

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 lawyer.

“Across the country, public lawyers work tirelessly to protect the rule of law, provide legal representation to those in need, and improve our communities,” said Adele Rapport, chair of the ABA Government & Public Sector Lawyers Division. “GPSLD is proud to honor and celebrate these heroes.”

This year’s honorees are:

The 2024 Dorsey Award: Amrutha Jindal, executive director, Lone Star Defenders

In 2021, under Operation Lone Star, the state of Texas executed memoranda of

understanding with over 100 ranchers, allowing the Texas Department of Public Safety to police ranches — some the size of Delaware — to arrest immigrants, largely for criminal trespass. This resulted in an enormous increase in the number of criminal defendants needing representation in rural counties completely unequipped for the massive caseload increase. Amrutha Jindal stepped up and launched Lone Star Defenders, swiftly creating an 80-attorney public defender system that guaranteed quality representation for thousands. This significant achievement required tremendous effort, including the recruitment and training of dozens of lawyers and support staff, the launch of a managed assigned counsel system to support and oversee members of the private bar, and the creation of systems handling appointment, case management and oversight. Due to Jindal’s valiant determination, thousands of people with a constitutional right to an attorney are receiving not only counsel, but high-quality representation.

The 2024 Hodson Award: New York City’s Asylum Application Help Center

New York City’s Asylum Application Help Center (AAHC) is a pro se legal clinic for asylum seekers in shelters. The AAHC was founded in June 2023 to assist with the filing of asylum applications, as many asylum seekers in shelters were at risk of missing the critical one-year filing deadline. Since its founding, the AAHC has expanded to five locations in two boroughs, and now provides support for asylum, temporary protected status (TPS) and work authorization applications. Through an innovative partnership model bringing together law firms, corporations, universities, nonprofits and all levels of government, the AAHC efficiently centralizes legal resources for migrants in New York City. It has assisted asylum seekers to complete over 42,000 applications for asylum, TPS, and work authorization and has hosted over 1,900 volunteers from law firms, corporations and universities.

The 2024 Nelson Award: Sylloris Lampkin

Sylloris Lampkin, attorney advisor in the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, has served in numerous ABA positions that have elevated the voice of public lawyers. As GPSLD’s Law Student Outreach Committee chair, Lampkin organized presentations at numerous law schools including Texas Southern University, South Texas College of Law, Texas Wesleyan Law School, Georgia State University Law School, Mercer University Law School, John Marshall Law School, and Emory Law School, providing timely information to students interested in public service careers. Lampkin also helped educate public lawyers across the country by participating in GPSLD podcasts and CLE webinars. In addition, Lampkin represented public lawyers in ABA-wide entities including serving as vice chair of the Housing and Urban Development Committee of the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, as a member of the ABA’s Forum on Affordable Housing and as a liaison to the ABA’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Education Pipeline.


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. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.