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Fellows Awards

2016 Fellows Awards

We are now accepting nominations for the 2016 Fellows Awards, to be presented at the 60th Annual Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet at the San Diego Natural History Museum on Saturday, February 6, 2016. Awards descriptions are below.

To nominate a deserving candidate, please submit this form and a statement in support of the nominee by September 14, 2015.  Nominations from the prevous three years are considered automatically. Recipients will be annouced in November 2015.

Please submit nomations to:

The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation

Attn: Fellows Awards

750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor

Chicago, IL 60611


via email () or fax (312) 564-8910

Fellows Awards 

Outstanding Service Award

The Fellows shall, on an annual basis, select a Fellow for the Outstanding Service Award, who has, in his or her professional career, adhered for more than thirty years* to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and to the service of the public.

Outstanding Scholar Award

The Fellows shall, on an annual basis, select a person, not necessarily a Fellow, for the Outstanding Scholar Award, who has engaged in outstanding scholarship in the law or in government.

Outstanding State Chair Award

The Fellows Officers shall, on an annual basis, select a current State Chair for the Outstanding State Chair Award, who has demonstrated a dedication to the work of the Foundation and the mission of The Fellows through exceptional efforts on behalf of The Fellows at the state level.

Distiguished Honoray Fellow

The Distinguished Honorary Fellow Award will be given from time to time to an Honorary Fellow in recognition of a lifetime of sustained and significant professional achievement and public service. Conferral of the Award is conditioned upon the recipient’s agreement to attend the Award presentation ceremony.

*Prior to 2006, the Outstanding Service Award required fifty years of service.

*Award Winners as of 2015 click here



We are pleased to annouce the 2015 Fellows Awards honorees.  The 59th Annual Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at the Minute Maid Park in Houston. 

Outstanding Service Award-- Benjamin H. Hill, III, Hill Ward Henderson 

Ben is a founding partner and chairman of the Tampa law firm of Hill Ward Henderson which has over 100 attorneys.  He is a trial lawyer who has served as counsel to the Governor of Florida, has represented the Florida Senate, and has represented the Florida House of Representatives.  Ben’s peers in the State of Florida rated him among the top 10 lawyers in the State and selected him to the Florida Elite Hall of Fame. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Ben’s professional activities include service as President of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, President of the Young Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar, and President of The Florida Bar.  He served on the committee which established one of the nation’s first board certification programs.  He was a founder of the Florida Bar Ethics School which offers ethics courses to lawyers in lieu of punishment for minor ethical violations.  He served on the ABA Board of Governors, Chaired the Program and Planning Committee, and served on the Executive Committee. While serving as State Delegate, he was selected to Chair the Conference of State Delegates.  He also chaired the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers Professional Liability.

 In Florida Ben helped establish and then chaired the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission (the first of its kind in America).  He recently completed almost two years of service as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee for the Federal Judiciary which during his tenure, investigated and rated over 175 potential presidential federal court nominees.

His community service includes service as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Hillsborough Community College and membership on many advisory boards.  Currently, he is on the Board of Directors of Moffitt Cancer Center (the largest NCI-designated cancer center in the southeast) and serves on the Executive Committee. He is the immediate past chair of the Moffitt Foundation.  He is an elder in Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church and serves as Chair of the Church’s Foundation and the Board of Trustees.

His pro bono activities include service on the Board of Bay Area Legal Services and service on the Florida Supreme Court’s Innocence Commission.  He has chaired the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society and served on the Article V Commission which proposed changes to the Florida Constitution dealing with Florida Courts.

He has received numerous awards, including the Florida Bar’s outstanding service award. He was honored with an award given by the District Court Judges in the Middle District of Florida for his extraordinary service to the Federal Bar. 

Ben and his wife, Marte, have two sons, Ben, IV and Gordon, both of whom are lawyers at   Hill Ward Henderson.

Outstanding Scholar Award-- Professor Stephen Gillers, New York University School of Law

Stephen Gillers has been a professor of law at NYU School of Law since 1978 and was vice dean from 1999 to 2004. He does most of his research and writing on the regulation of the legal profession. He has spoken on regulatory issues related to the legal profession hundreds of times in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Gillers is the author of Regulation of Lawyers: Problems of Law and Ethics (Aspen 2015), a widely used law school casebook first published in 1989 and now in its tenth edition. He was a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 (2010-2013) and the ABA’s Multijurisdictional Practice Commission (2000-02). Gillers was also a member (2002-10) and chair (2004-08) of the Policy Implementation Committee of the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility. In 2011, he won the ABA’s Michael Franck Award, given annually for “significant contributions to the work of the organized bar…noteworthy scholarly contributions made in academic settings, [and] creative judicial or legislative initiatives undertaken to advance the professionalism of lawyers.”

His recent scholarship includes: “A Tendency to Deprave and Corrupt: The Transformation of American Obscenity Law from Hicklin to Ulyssses II” (Washington Univ. L. Rev.); “Guns, Fruits, Drugs, and Documents: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Responsibility for Real Evidence” (Stanford L. Rev.); “A Profession, If You Can Keep It: How Information Technology and Fading Borders Are Reshaping the Law Marketplace and What We Should Do About It” (Hastings L. J.); “How to Make Rules for Lawyers: The Professional Responsibility of the Legal Profession” (Pepperdine L. Rev. symposium issue); and “Lowering the Bar: How Lawyer Discipline in New York Fails to Protect the Public” (J. Legis. & Public Policy). Gillers practiced law for nine years in various settings in New York before joining the Law School faculty. 

Outstanding State Chair Award--  

Ava E. Lias-Booker, State Chair of Maryland 

Ava Lias-Booker is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. As the office managing partner of McGuireWoods’ Baltimore office, she is a member of the firm’s board of partners and heads the Baltimore litigation practice group. With more than 25 years of litigation experience, she represents clients in a range of industries in complex commercial and civil litigation in state and federal courts.

As lead counsel in numerous trial and litigation matters, Ava has represented businesses in defeating class action litigation and resolving contractual disputes, shareholder disputes, lender liability, products liability, check fraud and claims arising under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and Uniform Commercial Code.

Ava serves on the boards of several civic and professional organizations, including the board of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the board of visitors of her alma mater, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

She was appointed a member of the Magistrate Judges’ Merit Selection Panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and served as a Gubernatorial Appointee to the Maryland Appellate Judicial Nominating Committee.

In recognition of her professional achievements and community involvement, Ava was named an “Influential Marylander” in 2014 by the Maryland Daily Record and named to the publication’s Leadership in Law list in 2011. She was also named to the Baltimore Business Journal’s 2011 “Power 20: The Next Generation” list and she is the recipient of the 2009 Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award for Excellence for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Law.

Kevin L. Shepherd, Immediate Past State Chair of Maryland 

Kevin L. Shepherd is a partner in the Real Estate Practice Group, Managing Director of Finance, Chair of the Finance Committee, and member of the Management Committee and Venable Board at Venable LLP in Baltimore, Maryland.  Kevin primarily represents REITs, private equity investors, pension funds, and multi-national corporations on real estate transactions.  Kevin is a member of the ABA House of Delegates, a former chair of the ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, a past president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a governor of the Anglo-American Real Property Institute, and a Fellow of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys and the American Bar Foundation (immediate past Maryland chair).  Kevin is chair of the ABA Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession.  Kevin is the author of several law review articles, and speaks domestically and internationally on real estate issues.

Distinguished Career in Research, In Memoriam-- Ted Eisenberg

Known as the “grandfather of empirical legal studies,” Theodore Eisenberg was a passionate teacher, beloved colleague, and prolific scholar during his 33 years at the Law School.

A legendary figure in the areas of bankruptcy, civil rights, and the death penalty, Eisenberg has used innovative statistical methodology to shed light on such diverse subjects as punitive damages, victim impact evidence, capital juries, bias for and against litigants, and chances of success on appeal. He is the founder of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Eisenberg taught courses on bankruptcy and debtor-creditor law, constitutional law, civil rights, contracts, federal income taxation, and empirical studies of the legal system.

After earning a B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1969 and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1972, Eisenberg clerked for both the District of Columbia Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court. After three years in private practice at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, Eisenberg began teaching at UCLA in 1977. He joined Cornell Law School as a permanent professor in 1981.

It was in his second year at Cornell that Eisenberg became deeply interested in empirical legal research. From that point on, his work in that area was prodigious; he authored or coauthored over 125 scholarly articles and wrote or edited over 20 books or chapters in books. In addition to visiting professorships at Haifa University, Harvard, Stanford, Turin, and Tel Aviv, Eisenberg was recognized with numerous fellowships, grants, and awards. He also served on over 25 editorial boards and outside committees and served as an expert witness at a number of high-profile trials.

Eisenberg explained his approach to empirical research in a spring 2008 article in the Cornell Law Forum magazine. “I like to let the data tell their own story, not try to superimpose one,” he said. “As in any good scholarship, you check your assumptions. If you don’t have the real facts, people will make them up or follow the headlines.”