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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.

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

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.

For a full list of all previous award winners click here. 


We are pleased to announce the 2019 Fellows Awards honorees.  The 63rd Annual Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet will take place on January 26, 2019 at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Outstanding Service Award -- Hon. Dennis W. Archer, Chair Emeritus of Dickinson Wright PLLC & CEO of Dennis W. Archer PLLC

Dennis W. Archer has spent the last four decades of his career serving the city of Detroit, his home state of Michigan, and the legal profession at large. A native of Michigan, Mr. Archer taught in Detroit Elementary schools for five years before receiving his Juris Doctorate degree from Detroit College of Law in 1970. In addition to practicing law in Detroit, he served as a Professor at both Detroit College of Law (1972-1978) and Wayne State University Law School (1984-1985). In 1986, Mr. Archer was elected an Associate Justice on the Michigan State Supreme Court. He was elected mayor of Detroit in 1994, and during his two terms worked successfully to lower unemployment and spur over $20.2 billion worth of new projects in city development. While mayor, he was named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine and one of the “25 Most Dynamic Mayors in America” by Newsweek magazine. Mr. Archer served as President of the American Bar Association from 2003 to 2004. He is also past President of the National Bar Association, Wolverine Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, and the National League of Cities, and is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and Michigan State Bar Foundation. He has served on the Board of Directors for TopBuild, Alix Partners, MASCO Corporation, Johnson Controls Inc, and Compuware Corporation. His awards and acknowledgements include: the 2016 ABA Medal; listed in Best Lawyers in America; named “Most Respected Judge in Michigan” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly (1990); named among “100 Most Powerful Attorneys in the United States” by the National Law Journal (1985); and named among “100 Most Influential Black Americans” by Ebony magazine (1984). Mr. Archer is married to Hon. Trudy DunCombe Archer, ret. They have two children, Dennis Wayne Archer, Jr. and Vincent DunCombe Archer, and have two grandsons. Mr. Archer is currently Chairman Emeritus of Dickinson Wright PLLC and Chairman & CEO of Dennis W. Archer PLLC.

Outstanding Scholar Award -- Professor Richard L. AbelUniversity of California,  Los Angeles

Richard L. Abel is Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA. He has also taught at Yale, NYU, Fordham, Cardozo, CUNY and USC and lectured widely in
the US and in Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow), the UK (London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Cardiff, Canterbury, Warwick, Sheffield), Germany (Berlin), France (Paris), Norway (Oslo), Netherlands (Amsterdam, Groningen, Nijmegen), Belgium (Antwerp), Italy (Milan, Urbino, Bologna), Spain (Barcelona, Onati), Portugal (Lisbon), Israel (Jerusalem), Hungary (Budapest), Kenya (Nairobi), Ghana (Accra), South Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town), Colombia (Bogota), Mexico (Mexico City), Australia (Melbourne, Sydney), Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto), and Hong Kong. He has a law degree from Columbia (summa cum laude), a Ph.D. in law from the University of London, and an LL.D. honoris causa from University of Westminster. He has been a Marshall Scholar and a Resident at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. He delivered the Chorley and the Hamlyn Lectures in the UK and the Hal Wooden Lecture at the University of New South Wales, Sydney and will deliver the Liberty Lecture at Leeds University next May. He has received the Kalven Prize from the Law and Society Association (of which he has been president), the Podgorecki Award from the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee for Sociology of Law (of which he has been vice president), and the Jean and Edgar Cahn Award from the Equal Justice Foundation. He has practiced law with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law (in Jackson, Mississippi) and the New Haven Legal Assistance Foundation. He has written 20 books, including “Politics by Other Means: Law in the Struggle Against Apartheid, 1980-1994" (with a foreword by Nelson Mandela), “English Lawyers between Market and State: The Politics of Professionalism” (with a foreword by Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor), and “Lawyers in the Dock: Learning from Attorney Disciplinary Cases” (with a foreword by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor), edited 9 books, as well as the Law & Society Review and African Law Studies, and written 135 articles (some of which have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese). 

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

John S. Skilton, Esq., Perkins Coie 

John S. Skilton is a lawyer practicing with the law firm of Perkins Coie in Madison Wisconsin. He obtained a BA degree from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) as a history major in 1966. He graduated from the UW Law School in 1969 (where he served as Articles Editor of the Law Review). In 1969-1970 he served as a law clerk for United States Court of Appeals Judge Thomas E. Fairchild. He has practiced law, specializing in commercial litigation, continuously in the State of Wisconsin (and throughout the United States) since August 9, 1970. Throughout his career, Mr. Skilton has expended a significant amount of professional time on professional and pro bono activities, with an emphasis on delivery of legal services issues. He has served as President of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association (1985-86); President of the State Bar of Wisconsin (1995-96); and as Co-Chair of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (2004-2005) (the Committee of lawyers called for by President Kennedy during the civil rights crises of 1963). He has also served on the Board of the American Inns of Court Foundation (1996-1999). He has also served as the Chair of the ABA Delivery of Legal Services Committee (1997-2000) and Chair of the ABA Consortium on Justice (2000-2003) and was a founder and the first President of Wisconsin’s Equal Justice Fund. More recently he served as the State Delegate for Wisconsin in the ABA House of Delegates (2009-2012) and on the Board of Governors of the ABA (2012-2015). Presently he is serving as the Seventh Circuit Member of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. Mr. Skilton has received professional recognition for these activities including the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Gordon Sinykin Award for Outstanding Contributions In Public Service (1996); Wisconsin’s Equal Justice Fund’s Howard B. Eisenberg Lifetime Achievement Award (2001); the Dane County Bar Association’s Lifetime Pro Bono Publico Lifetime Achievement Award (2005); and The Lawyers’ Committee’s Whitney North Seymour Award For Exemplary Service in Securing Equal Justice Under Law (2007); and the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Charles L. Goldberg’s Distinguished Service Award (2016). Mr. Skilton is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He is also a member of the American Law Institute. Mr. Skilton is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has been a Fellow since 1993.

Robyn S. Shapiro, Esq., Founder & Attorney at Health Sciences Law Group LLC

 Robyn S. Shapiro, Founder and Attorney at Health Sciences Law Group LLC, has significant experience in representing clients with respect to research compliance issues, healthcare compliance issues, bioethics issues, health information privacy issues, informed consent, medical staff issues, regulatory and licensing matters, and corporate and commercial issues faced by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and hospitals and academic medical centers engaged in research. Attorney Shapiro's past position as Ursula von Der Ruhr Professor of Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and her 26-year leadership as Director of the Center for the Study of Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin complement her wide-ranging experience in health law. Ms. Shapiro is listed in the Best Lawyers in America, Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who of Emerging Leaders of America, Who’s Who in the Midwest, International Who’s Who, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in American Education, and Wisconsin Super Lawyers; she was included in Nightingale’s 2006 list of “Outstanding Hospital Lawyers” in the nation; in 2006 she was one of 12 honorees selected as a “Leader in the Law” by the Wisconsin Law Journal; in 2011 she was named a “Woman of Influence” by the Milwaukee Business Journal; in 2011 she was named Milwaukee’s Health Care Law “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers; and in 2013, 2014 and 2015 she was ranked by Chambers USA as “Leaders in their Field/Life Sciences: Regulatory/Compliance (Nationwide)”. Attorney Shapiro is a frequent presenter at national seminars and conferences on research compliance and health law issues, and she is the author of more than 50 publications on these and other topics.

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