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Fellows Awards

2017 Fellows Awards

We are now accepting nominations for the 2017 Fellows Awards, to be presented at the 61st Annual Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet on Saturday, February 4, 2017. Awards descriptions are below.

To nominate a deserving candidate, please submit this form and a statement in support of the nominee by September 16, 2016.  Nominations from the previous three years are considered automatically. Recipients will be announced in November 2016.

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 Honorary 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 2016 click here



We are pleased to annouce the 2016 Fellows Awards honorees.  The 60th Annual Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet took place on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at the San Diego Natural History Museum in San Diego, CA.

Outstanding Service Award-- Llewelyn G. Pritchard, Esq., Helsell Fetterman LLP

A native New Yorker, Llew Pritchard is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and partner at the Seattle law firm of Helsell Fetterman LLP.   Pritchard arrived in Seattle more than 50 years ago with a freshly minted law degree from Duke. He and his wife Jonie, who would eventually raise four children in the Pacific Northwest, began five decades of service on both a national and local level that continues to this day. Pritchard's early work on legal issues relating to diversity, immigrant rights and sexual minorities, were ahead of society’s, but entirely consistent with Pritchard's character and strong belief in civil rights.

Pritchard worked with his longtime friend Bill Gates Sr. and the late Judge Betty Fletcher to establish the minority scholarship program that the King County Bar Foundation carries on today and which has provided more than $2 million to minority law students at our local law schools. Pritchard was also a founding member of the Advisory Board for QLaw, advancing the rights of LGBT individuals, and is a winner of the National LGBT Bar Associations Allies for Justice Award.

Pritchard's work on behalf of marginalized populations also includes previous service as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, where he helped secure expanded funding for the Legal Services Corporation. Pritchard also chaired the ABA's Survey of Legal Needs to assess the legal needs of low-income and modest-means populations.

While Llew is a wonderful "talker,” he is remarkable "doer." When he is lending support to a new enterprise, such as the early days of the World Justice Project, or advocating for human rights, such as a his active role on the ROLI Board and Center for Human Rights, Llew is passionate, dogged and dependable.

Beyond his admirable work in the legal profession, Llew is an icon in the community at large. He has a lifelong commitment to the arts and was instrumental in founding one of Seattle's key arts funding Boards, as the President and Chair of the board of the Seattle Symphony, chair of Allied Arts and the Museum of Glass. He is also an active United Methodist and has served as the Chancellor or Legal Advisor to the United Methodist Bishop in Seattle for Forty Five years.

Llew represents the best of what lawyers should be—holding down an active practice while being a player in professional and community affairs. His staunch leadership for access to justice for all; his steadfast efforts to effect meaningful immigration reform; his courageous stands for human and civil rights; his indefatigable determination to strengthen the rule of law globally; and his enduring and inspiring service as a member of the ABA House of Delegates for more than three decades have earned him countless well-deserved awards and honors.  

Outstanding Scholar Award-- Professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, UCLA and Columbia Law School

Kimberlé Crenshaw, Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority in the area of Civil Rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law.  Her articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, and Southern California Law Review. She is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop, and the co-editor of the volume, Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement. Crenshaw has lectured widely on race matters, addressing audiences across the country as well as in Europe, India, Africa and South America.

Crenshaw has worked extensively on a variety of issues pertaining to gender and race in the domestic arena including violence against women, structural racial inequality, and affirmative action. A specialist on race and gender equality, she has facilitated workshops for human rights activists in Brazil and in India, and for constitutional court judges in South Africa. Her groundbreaking work on “Intersectionality” has traveled globally and was influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the South African Constitution.

 In 1996, Crenshaw co-founded the African American Policy Forum, a gender and racial justice legal think tank, which houses a variety of projects designed to deliver research-based strategies to better advance social inclusion.  In 2011, Crenshaw founded the Center for Intersectionality & Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School, which aims to foster critical examination of how social structures and related identity categories such as gender, race, and class interact on multiple levels, resulting in social inequality. She is a leading voice in calling for a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice interventions, having spearheaded the Why We Can’t Wait Campaign and co-authored Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected and Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.

Outstanding State Chair Award --  Minnesota State Fellows Co-Chairs

Barbara J. Gislason, Esq., Law Office of Barbara J. Gislason

Gislason was the mother of Animal Law in the ABA. The Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section gave her the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Animal Law. She has written a book called Pet Law and Pet Custody Disputes: A New Practice Area Unfolds for the ABA Section of Family Law, publication pending. Her editor, the Honorable Gail Baker, is of course an ABF member.

Internationally, Gislason succeeded Augusto Lopes Cardoso, the past President of the Portuguese Bar Association, to become President of the Paris-based Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) Biotechnology Law Working Group. She advanced the Biotechnology Law Working Group to Commission status, and has initiated standalone seminars in Budapest, Hungary; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and for 2016, Hefei, China. At the 59th UIA Congress in Valencia, she presented a speech called Neuroscience & the Role of Lawyers as the Gatekeepers of Fundamental Freedoms.

In addition to serving as President of the UIA Biotechnology Law Commission, she has succeeded Jerome Roth of Munger, Tolles & Olson in San Francisco to be President of the U.S. National Committee to the UIA. In the ABA Intellectual Property Law Section, Gislason recently gained a Council appointment.

Barbara has brought the same vigor that she has offered in these leadership roles to her role in the Minnesota State Bar Association, ABA, and UIA as Co-Chair of the Minnesota ABF Fellows. First with Dean Robert Stein and now with Minnesota Chief Federal Judge Jack Tunheim, she worked to dramatically increase the members and direction of the Fellows in Minnesota. Fellows programs included the Last Plane Out of Saigon book presentation by the book’s author and former ABF President Richard Pena and a summer yard party at Gislason’s home, where authors with considerable status and national reputations were guests.

Gislason also wants to share that current ABF President, Hon. Cara Lee Neville of Minnesota, set the bar high for what a great Fellows event in Minnesota looked like. It’s easy—interesting people in interesting places doing interesting things.

Chief Judge John R. Tunheim, U.S. District Court of Minnesota

Chief Judge John R. Tunheim has served as a United States District Judge since December 29, 1995.  He graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1975 and served as a staff assistant to U.S. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.  In 1980, he graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School where he served as President of the Minnesota Law Review.  Chief Judge Tunheim served one year as a law clerk to Judge Earl Larson and worked in private practice at the St. Paul law firm of Oppenheimer, Wolff and Donnelly.  In 1986, after serving for two years as the state’s Solicitor General, he was appointed Minnesota Chief Deputy Attorney General and served until his appointment to the federal bench.

From 1994-1998, he was appointed by President Clinton and served as the Chair of the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board, an independent federal agency in charge of declassifying the government records of the Kennedy assassination.  For his work in declassifying intelligence and law enforcement records, he received the 1999 James Madison Award from the Coalition on Government Information.

He has been an active member of the American Bar Association and the Minnesota State Bar Association throughout his professional career.  Among his many activities are serving as a former Chair and former and current member of the Council of the American Bar Association Division on Government and Public Sector Lawyers, a division he helped establish in 1991.  He served as the Division’s representative in the ABA House of Delegates from 2005-2011.  The Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division honored him in August 2003 with its Clair Nelson Award for Excellent Service to the American Bar Association. 

 He has served twice on the ABA Advisory Board for the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative and currently is Chair of the CEELI Council and a member of the Board of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI).  In addition, he is the former Chair of the Executive Committee of the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges in the ABA Judicial Division and has served on the ABA Advisory Committees to the Standing Committee on Law and National Security and the Standing Committee on Election Law. He also served a two-year term as Co-Chair of the Public Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, a section he helped to establish.  The Section honored him in 2004 with its Justice Rosalie Wahl Award for Judicial Excellence.  From 2006-2015 he served as the Chair of the Standards Task Force on the Prosecution and Defense Function for the ABA Criminal Justice Section, an ABA task force that was responsible for revising the standards governing prosecutors and defense lawyers in criminal matters.  He currently serves as the Minnesota State Co-Chair of the ABA Fellows and has also been a member of the ABA’s National Jury Commission.

Life Fellow Achievement Award -- Selma Moidel Smith, Esq.

Selma Moidel Smith, admitted to the bar in January 1943 at the age of 23, is legendary.  The Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles awarded her its first and only honorary life membership in recognition of her years of commitment and service, including two terms as president.  The National Association of Women Lawyers has honored her with its Lifetime of Service Award and in 2005 with the creation of its annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition in women and the law.  In 1953, Selma was appointed a charter member of the National Board of the Medical College of Pennsylvania, serving two years as president.

At the American Bar Association, Selma is one of 100 women lawyers selected nationwide for the Women Trailblazers in the Law Oral History Project (at  In the Senior Lawyers Division, she served as editorial board chair of Experience magazine and on the governing council and in other offices.  She is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Internationally, her paper on legal education (advocating clinical training in law schools), presented by invitation at the 1948 Conference of the International Bar Association at The Hague, was adopted by resolution.  She has held many posts with the International Federation of Women Lawyers.   She was decorated with La Orden del Mérito Juan Pablo Duarte by the Dominican Republic in 1956. 

Selma is editor-in-chief of California Legal History, the annual journal of the California Supreme Court Historical Society, where she is a board member.  In 2007, she initiated a law student writing competition in California legal history which she continues to conduct each year.  At her 95th birthday celebration in April 2014, the Society renamed the competition in her honor.  Selma is listed in Who’s Who in America and in the first and later editions of Who’s Who of American Women (1958) and Who’s Who in American Law (1977).

Selma is also a composer, with more than 100 piano and instrumental pieces, and is listed in the International Encyclopedia of Women Composers (1987).  Her music has been performed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and by the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall.