2018 Client Contribution Awards

National Legal Aid & Defender Association/TimeBanks USA
2018 Client Contribution Awards

Description & Directions


Nomination Deadline: OCTOBER 5

The War on Poverty birthed the Legal Services program. Maximum Feasible Participation was a fundamental premise of that historic initiative. From the outset, that mandate was part of the DNA of the Legal Services Program. At a minimum, it took the form of client representation on the Board of any program receiving funds – but that was the minimum. Client engagement takes many forms beyond Board membership. For the past half-century, clients have been spokespersons for justice, champions of local programs, allies and leaders in the many struggles in which legal service programs have been engaged.

The original Article that is recognized as the foundational blueprint for legal services was entitled The War on Poverty: A Civilian Perspective. Part III of the article proposed Neighborhood Law Offices with a justification that envisioned a role that went beyond extended free legal services to low income communities. It read:

“In the final analysis the worth of the following proposal will depend on the contribution it can make as a form of enfranchisement, as an attempt to institutionalize the functions of dissent and criticism, and as a means of revitalizing the democratic process by providing representation in those forums of decision making where legislators, elective and non-elective, and where judges, frocked and unfrocked, hand down the common law of the poor.”

Clients are more than people with a legal problem. However serious, that problem is only a small part of the whole person.  Clients are a resource to their families, their communities, this nation. A celebration is long overdue of the contribution that clients – individuals or groups – have made to addressing injustice, to transforming the lives of others in their community, to restoring faith in communities in the rule of law, and to battling for Legal Service programs survival, integrity and growth. 

Accordingly, TimeBanks USA joins with the Client Policy Group of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) to make three awards at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association 2018 Annual Conference. The awards are  premised on the assumption that this nation’s founding purpose: to Establish Justice -- can best be established if driven by a sustained commitment to Maximum Feasible Participation in every form and every forum: Client as Co-Producers of Justice.

The awards will be announced at the Client Section Meeting of the NLADA Annual Conference.


Deadline for Nominations

The deadline for nominations is October 5, 2018. Each award will include $500 in recognition, and may be presented either to an individual or a group of individuals working together (in which case the $500 would be shared.)  Individuals and groups may nominate themselves or be nominated by others.


Nature of the Awards

Awards will be for past contributions with demonstrated impact. One of the three awards will be in recognition of efforts that have successfully supported and promoted legal services (civil or criminal) undertaken by legal service programs serving the indigent. That may be at the local, regional, state or national level.  A second award will be for contributions by a client or clients that have changed the lives of others in the community.  The third award will be for promoting client involvement and client leadership. 

In addition, each and every entry will receive recognition by the award of a certificate of contribution to legal services. 


Guides for Nominations

Nominations should spell out what specifically the nominees did, and what happened as a result of their actions.  Kinds of action taken and/or results of those actions can be wide-ranging.  Here are just a few  examples: collaboration that led to changed policies; efforts that led to funding or other kinds of support for the program; newsletters that have had a demonstrated impact; day-to-day volunteering that helps shape the client experience of legal services; public forums or public demonstrations that have led to legislative action or other kinds of changes that were more fair and just; training and workshops that have provided members of the community with the knowledge they need to take informed action on their own behalf.

We will be looking for details: who, what, when, where, and how.  Those details should tell the story clearly and plainly. Judges will be looking for verifiable facts.  We also request two or more references.  References may be from members of Legal Services board members or community members. They should come from individuals with firsthand experience of what was achieved.

Nominations should indicate which of the three awards they are seeking.  A nominee may have different submissions for more than one of the three awards – but in each case there should be an explanation as to why that particular award is a good fit. And if possible, please have the nominations typed!  That will make them easier for our judges to read!

Please also submit 1-3 photos of the individual or of the group.     

Also provide contact information for both the nominating party and the nominee to enable us to get additional information if needed



Judging will go through multiple steps. In the first round, law student volunteers from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law will read and rank the submissions. They will be provided with guidelines and will work in teams. They will follow through by contacting references.  The student ratings and comments will be provided by Professor Edgar Cahn to a Client Award Task Force. Task Force composition will consist of client members from the Client Policy Council, Julie Reiskin (client representative on the Board of the Legal Services Corporation) and possibly additional client representatives. That Task Force will make the final choice.


Beyond the Awards

We recognize that three awards can barely scratch the surface of all that has been contributed by clients over the decades, and so the roles that client leaders have played will be recognized and honored in other ways. All who have been nominated for the awards will receive a request to allow us to post their submissions on a web-page with the picture/s they submitted. In this way, we can give recognition to the many clients who have contributed so much, and show the impact they have had.

Download the nomination form here


For Inquiries:

Professor Edgar Cahn
Subject line: Inquiry Client Awards
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-362-5605

Mailing Address for Nominations:

Email for Nominations:

2018 Client Contribution Awards
CoProduction Initiative
TimeBanks USA
5500 39th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20015

Subject line: 2018 Client Contribution Awards
Email: [email protected]