Charles Dorsey Award (biennial)

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The Charles Dorsey Award is given biennially to an individual who has provided extraordinary and dedicated service to the equal justice community and to organizations that promote expanding and improving access to justice for low-income people. To be eligible to receive this award, an individual must have demonstrated a commitment to equal justice for all through service as an officer, board or committee member of a national or statewide organization devoted to fulfilling the promise of equal justice.

Charles Dorsey winners listing

Frequency:
Biennial
Year:
2015
Recipient(s) name:

LInda K. Rexer

Recipient title:
Executive Director
Recipient organization:
Michigan State Bar Foundation
Lansing, Michigan
Where presented :
NLADA Annual Conference
Reason for selection of recipient(s):

Linda Rexer has been executive director of the Michigan State Bar Foundation for 30 years. The Foundation provides significant funding and leadership for civil legal aid to the poor. Previously, she was a managing attorney for a regional legal aid program. She has held national and state leadership roles, including as a founding member of the State Bar of Michigan's Access to Justice Task Force and current co-chair of its successor entity and co-chair of the Access Committee of the State Bar’s 21st Century Task Force on the Future of Legal Services.

She was co-chair of the statewide Solutions on Self-Help Task Force, which launched the Michigan Legal Help Program, recently honored with NLADA’s Innovations in Equal Justice Award. She served on NLADA committees and as a member of the MIE board. She was also a member of the ABA Commission on IOLTA and President of the National Association of IOLTA Programs for which she has made many presentations and led numerous committees, including currently chairing a committee working to broaden support for legal aid from other foundations.

She was also a trustee of the National Conference of Bar Foundations, a member of the ABA Task Force to Revise the Civil Legal Aid Standards, a member of LSC’s Performance Criteria Committee, and a member of LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force. She received the State Bar's Michael Frank Award for contributions to the legal profession and has published many articles on access to justice. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame.

Frequency:
Biennial
Year:
2013
Recipient(s) name:

Ramon Arias

Recipient title:
Executive Director
Recipient organization:
Bay Area Legal Aid
Oakland, California
Where presented :
NLADA Annual Conference
Reason for selection of recipient(s):

Ramón Arias is Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid and a leader in the national civil justice community.

He began his legal aid career in 1978 with California Rural Legal Assistance. During his ten years with CRLA, Ramón served as a staff attorney, managing attorney, Director of CRLA's Migrant Farm Worker Project, and as a regional counsel. In 1988, Ramón became the Executive Director of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, a position he held for the next 12 years.

In 2000, Ramón became the Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid, an organization he helped to create by merger of four legal aid programs.  Bay Area Legal Aid is the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest law firm for the poor and is nationally recognized for its innovation, effectiveness, and quality.

Named one of the top 100 attorneys in California twice by the Daily Journal, Ramón has served as Chair of the Board of the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association, member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants, a member of the ABA Committee on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness, and Chair of the Board of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

Ramón was recently appointed by the President of the Legal Services Corporation to an LSC Advisory Group committed to exploring ways legal aid providers can better demonstrate the effectiveness of the legal assistance they provide. 

Consistent with his national leadership on the need to cultivate a new generation of public interest lawyers, Ramón currently serves on the Board of Equal Justice Works, which operates the largest fellowship program in the United States. 

Frequency:
Biennial
Year:
2009
Recipient(s) name:

Edgar and the late Jean Camper Cahn

Recipient organization:
Time Banks
Where presented :
NLADA Annual Conference
Reason for selection of recipient(s):

Prior to the development of the legislation for the War on Poverty in 1964, Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn helped to implement the work of Community Progress Inc., developing the first neighborhood-based law firm in New Haven, CT as part of that program. As part of the War on Poverty, the Cahns conceived, designed, proposed and founded the National Legal Services Corporation, which served as the blueprint for the Legal Services Program. Later, both Cahns helped shape the Legal Services Corporation as consultants to the President’s Commission on Reorganization.

In 1972, through the efforts of the Cahns, Antioch School of Law in Washington, DC, was established as the first clinical law school in the nation broadening access to legal careers and providing free legal services to thousands of District residents. As co-deans of the law school, the Cahns pioneered legal programs for poor residents of the District, and, many years later, when the school fell on hard times, the Cahns returned to Washington to play crucial roles in mobilizing the community and securing support to launch the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law as a successor to the Antioch School of Law.

In 1980, Edgar Cahn developed the strategy of co-production to empower the poor with a tax-exempt currency initially called services credits and later renamed as TimeDollars. The currency equates one hour spent helping others or building community or fighting for justice with one time dollar, which can be used to secure computers, food, or clothes for families. Today, while continuing the work of Time Banking, Edgar Cahn has embarked on a civil rights initiative to address racial disparity by proposing to shift the focus from past to future by formally giving officials a future choice between continuing with present practices that often result in racially disparate impact, with validated, less expensive and replicable alternatives.  

Frequency:
Biennial
Year:
2007
Recipient(s) name:

Stuart Andrews

Recipient organization:
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Columbia , South Carolina
Where presented :
NLADA Annual Conference
Reason for selection of recipient(s):

Andrews’ choice to work with private firms began as a suggestion from the minister of the church he was representing while a staff attorney at Palmetto Legal Services. The minister suggested he help the poor and create change by working in a private law firm. He accepted the challenge and his new mission became to create opportunities for others. Andrews now leads Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP’s Health Care Group by representing hospitals, health care systems, physicians, and ancillary providers in a wide range of regulatory and litigation matters in Columbia, SC. He has served on numerous statewide task forces responsible for the development of recommendations concerning heath care policy in South Carolina, as well as chairman of numerous organizations and initiatives. Having been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers of America (1995-2008 editions), he also received the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2005. Andrews has shown vision, compassion, and leadership in serving the legal needs of the lowincome community throughout his career.