ABA Awards Recognize Professionalism Programs
The American Bar Association is honoring an Illinois regional bench-bar collaboration, an Indiana State Bar mentoring program, and a Miami, Fla., law school initiative as national exemplars of innovative legal professionalism programming.
Recipients of the 2012 E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Awards, the nation’s leading program honoring the best professionalism programs and practices across the nation, are the Illinois 17th Judicial Circuit Professionalism Initiative, the Indiana State Bar Association’s Mentor Match Program and the University of Miami School of Law Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program.
The Gambrell Awards, a program of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism, are being presented at the August 3 Joint Awards Luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the National Association of Bar Executives, and the National Conference of Bar Foundations, held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting.
Each award carries a cash prize of $3,500, supported by a grant from the E. Smythe Gambrell Fund for Professionalism.
The ABA Professionalism Committee honored the 17th Judicial Circuit Professional Initiative, a joint program of the 17th Judicial Circuit of Illinois, the Boone County Bar Association and the Winnebago County Bar Association, as an innovative bench-bar mechanism for reinforcing ideals of lawyer conduct within the judicial circuit, combined with a mentoring program to facilitate the transition to professional practice of new bar admittees.
The program features a peer review council of respected lawyers in the area available to informally intervene when possible violations of the circuit’s new aspirational ideals of lawyer conduct arise. The committee found that the initiative’s mandatory lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program has proven effective in imparting practice and professionalism knowledge and skills from experienced legal professionals to new lawyers. The work done in this pilot program has informed the efforts of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism to develop new statewide programs in the areas of mentoring, an aspirational code of conduct, and a peer review program.
The Indiana State Bar Association Professional Legal Education, Admission and Development Section was recognized for building a successful statewide lawyer mentoring program model that supports new lawyers transitioning into practice, as well as other lawyers who may benefit. Under this innovative program, the mentor receives 12 hours of CLE credit and the mentee receives 6 hours of applied professionalism credit (or, if those credits have already been satisfied, 6 hours of ethics/CLE credit). According to the Professionalism Committee, while other states have developed effective mentoring models, Indiana was the first state to award CLE credit for participating in a mentoring relationship, a key ingredient of the program’s success.
The University of Miami School of Law’s Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program (PREP) was honored as an innovative effort in which law students explore hot-topic professional responsibility issues, draft academic materials and present on-site ethics programs to non-profit legal services, bar associations, government agencies, law firms and corporations in the area. In conferring a Gambrell Award on the program, the ABA Professionalism Committee noted that PREP creates a unique synergy among law students and the legal profession, with students benefiting from exposure to real-world practice environments, and program users enhancing their skills as they learn from well-prepared student instructors. PREP represents an outstanding and successful model worth emulating.
The annual awards honor the legacy of E. Smythe Gambrell, a former ABA president and leader in the national legal professionalism movement.