Trial Lawyer of the Year Award

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Each year, Public Justice presents its Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to the attorney(s) who made the greatest contribution to the public interest within the past year by trying or settling a precedent-setting, socially significant case. Read about the 2017 finalists, to be honored at our annual Gala on July 24 in Boston, here.


Please direct any questions about the award or the nominations process to aoshea@publicjustice.net. Thank you for helping us highlight extraordinary litigation in the public interest by making a nomination.

(For a look at past recipients, click here.)

2016 Winners

The first 2016 winners are the team from Varden v. City of Clanton, the first challenge to the constitutionality of the American bail system. Varden and ensuing cases have set an incredibly important precedent for conversations surrounding criminal justice reform.

Leading the trial team was Alec Karakatsanis of Equal Justice Under Law in Washington, D.C.; Matthew Swerdlin of Birmingham, Ala.; J. Mitch McGuire of McGuire & Associates in Montgomery, Ala.; William M. Dawson of Dawson Law Office in Birmingham, Ala.; Thomas B. Harvey and Michael-John Voss of ArchCity Defenders in St. Louis, Mo.; Cliff Johnson II and Jacob W. Howard of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in University, Miss., Katie M. Schwartzmann, and Eric A. Foley of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans, La.; and William P. Quigley of New Orleans, La.

Our second winner was the team from Linde v. Arab Bank, one of the first cases to hold international banks accountable for funding terrorists and their families under the Anti Terrorism Act, a law that allows people who were injured in terrorist attacks abroad to bring a civil suit to US courts.

Leading the trial team was Michael E. Elsner, Jodi Westbrook Flowers, and John M. Eubanks of Motley Rice in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; C. Tab Turner of Turner & Associates in North Little Rock, Ark.; Gary M. Osen, Aaron Schlanger, Ari Ungar, Cindy T. Schlanger, and Naomi Weinberg of Osen LLC in Hackensack, N.J.; Joshua Glatter, formerly of Osen LLC; Mark Werbner of Sayles Werbner in Dallas, TX; Joel Israel, formerly of Sayles Werbner; James Bonner of Stone, Bonner & Rocco in Summit, N.J.; Noel Nudelman, Richard Heideman, and Tracy Reichman Kalik of Heideman, Nudelman & Kalik in Washington, DC; Gavriel Mairone and Ariel Mairone of MM-Law in Chicago, IL; Steven Steingard and Stephen Schwartz of Kohn, Swift & Graf in Philadelphia, Pa.; Shawn Patrick Naunton of Zuckerman Spaeder in New York City; Margaret E. Lynaugh, formerly of Zuckerman Spaeder in New York City; Allan Gerson of AG International Law in Washington, DC, Peter Raven-Hansen of Washington, DC; and Jonathan David of The David Law Firm in The Woodlands, Texas.

You can read about these incredible cases here.

2016 Finalists

There were five finalist teams for this year’s award. In addition to David, the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the following three cases were named finalists. Watch the videos to learn more about each case. Read more about each of these outstanding cases here.

Andrews vs. Lawrence Livermore National Security (unfair employment termination policies at a nuclear laboratory):

Fox v. Johnson & Johnson (improper warning of the use of talc power in feminine hygiene products):

Reckis v. Johnson & Johnson (improper warning of the fact that the use of Children’s Motrin can lead to life-threatening illness):