ABA Medal

The American Bar Association awards its highest honor, the ABA Medal, to one or more recipients who have made outstanding contributions to American jurisprudence. This year’s winner is retired General Earl E. Anderson. General Anderson served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War and was the youngest active duty Marine to be promoted to four-star rank. In 1952, he earned his Juris Doctor degree summa cum laude from George Washington University.

Anderson has been a member of the American Bar Association for 64 years and has climbed the ranks and “served in virtually every leadership position.” He has been active in ABA leadership since the 1980s, serving as Director of the General Practice Division, chair of its Government Lawyers Committee and chair of its Federal Legislation Committee. Among many other positions, Anderson also served as chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel and provided “expert advice” to the Standing Committee on Law and National Security on matters relating to the war on terror. At age 95, Anderson is still an active member of several ABA sections and divisions and in the ABA House of Delegates.

John Pickering Award

The Honorable Bernice B. Donald is the 2014 winner of the ABA’s John Pickering Award, bestowed to a lawyer or judge who has demonstrated an outstanding legal ability to expand access to quality legal services. Judge Donald was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President Barack Obama in 2010 and confirmed by the Senate the following year.  Before joining the Court of Appeals, she was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. In addition to serving on the bench, Justice Donald is active in the ABA and speaks often on the topic of implicit bias.

Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award

The Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award celebrates the work that female lawyers have done to pave the way to achievement for women in the legal field.

Hon. Nancy Gertner

Judge Nancy Gertner graduated from Yale Law School, before practicing law around the greater Boston area for twenty years. In 1994, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In 2008, she received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the ABA, which is awarded to a lawyer who made great strides in the name of civil rights. In 2011, she published her autobiography, In Defense of Women: an Unrepentant Advocate. She was previously honored with the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall Award.

Anastasia D. Kelly

Anastasia D. Kelly received her law degree from George Washington University. She served as a partner at Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering. She later served as General Counsel for MCI WorldCom and AIG. Kelly resigned from AIG after refusing to take a pay cut mandated by special master Ken Feinberg for executive compensation for TARP recipients. In 2010, she joined DLA Piper and is now its Co-Managing Partner for the Americas. Kelly has dedicated herself to helping female lawyers ascend to “the highest levels in the legal department.” The Transformative Leadership Awards and Dinner program created the Anastasia D. Kelly award to recognize female lawyers who help advance the cause of women in the legal profession.

Allie B. Latimer

Allie B. Latimer earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law. She volunteered with the American Friends Service Committee, where she worked to end segregation in New Jersey state agencies. In 1977, she was appointed General Counsel of the General Services Administration and became the first woman and first African American to serve as General Counsel of any federal agency. Latimer was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

Kathryn Doi Todd

Kathryn Doi Todd graduated from Stanford University in 1963 before attending Loyola Law School to receive her law degree. Todd began her legal career in Los Angeles, where she started her own civil practice. Todd, along with several other Japanese-American jurists, founded the Japanese American Bar Association to increase opportunities for Japanese American lawyers. In 1978, California’s Governor appointed her to the Los Angeles County Municipal Court bench, making Todd the first Japanese American woman judge. She was later promoted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench, before being appointed to California’s Second District Court of Appeal, Division Two, where she served until 2013.

Marissa C. Wesely

Marissa C. Wesely graduated from Harvard Law School in 1980. She joined Simpson Thatcher after graduation and is now a member of the Firm’s Corporate Department. She is a recipient of the Diversity Champion Award from the New York City Bar Association and is a co-founder of The Kate Stoneman project, an organization dedicated to promoting leadership for women partners of ten leading New York-based law firms.

Thurgood Marshall Award

Judge Margaret Marshall is the 2014 winner of the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall Award, given to a person in the legal profession who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of civil rights. Margaret Marshall was born in South Africa. While in college, she led the National Union of South African Students, an organization dedicated to ending the oppression of minorities in South Africa. She came to the United States to earn a Master’s Degree from Harvard University and a J.D. at Yale Law School. In 1996, she was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and served as Chief Justice from 1999 until 2010. Judge Marshall wrote the majority opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which found that same-sex Massachusetts couples had the right to marry.

Lani Guinier, who was once nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, will offer the keynote remarks at the ceremony.


Silver Gavel

The Silver Gavel award recognizes works in the “media and the arts” that challenge the public’s understanding of the American legal and justice systems. Six winners were chosen to receive awards this year.

  • The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay, by Wall Street Journal Supreme Court correspondent Jess Bravin, examines America’s post-9/11 military justice system.
  • “An American Gulag” is a commentary on the treatment of mentally ill inmates in one of the country’s most secure “supermax” prisons. The three part print series examines a class action lawsuit that seeks to pressure the federal judiciary to order “specific, fundamental changes” to mental health procedures in federal penitentiaries.
  • “Gideon’s Army” is a documentary that portrays three young public defenders as they seek to give competent legal representation to poor defendants. The documentary criticizes the current judicial system for overwhelming what they describe as an already understaffed and undertrained public defense system.
  • “Twice Betrayed” is a newspaper series that investigated sexual assault in the military. The series claims that the military pressures victims to either keep the assaults a secret or to leave the military.
  • “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” is a radio program that tells of a three-year-old child stuck in the middle of a custody battle that is before the Supreme Court.
  • “The Invisible War” is a documentary that details the “epidemic” of rape in the military. It maintains that the military does not give adequate support to victims and refuses to recognize how extensive the problem is.