Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

Adjust Text Size:   A   A

Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award

The Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award was established by the Standing Committee on Access to Legal Services of the Virginia State Bar to honor those attorneys and attorney groups that have made outstanding pro bono contributions. The Access Committee annually reviews all nominations and decides upon the recipient. The award, a framed certificate bearing the honorees name and a quote from the late Justice Powell, will be presented at a ceremony during the Virginia Pro Bono Conference in October. Recipients will also receive a copy of the limited-edition print of the painting Patrick Henry Arguing the Parson’s Cause.


The recipient of the award must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of pro bono legal services in the Commonwealth of Virginia;
  • Contributed significantly toward the development of innovative approaches to the delivery of volunteer legal services;
  • Participated in an activity that resulted in satisfying previously unmet needs for legal services or in extending services to underserved segments of the population;
  • Successfully handled pro bono cases that favorably affected the provision of other services to the poor in Virginia;
  • Successfully supported legislation that contributed substantially to providing legal services to the poor; or
  • Devoted significant time to furthering the delivery of legal services to the poor in Virginia by handling pro bono matters or providing training or recruiting volunteer attorneys for pro bono programs.

The nominee must be a member of the Virginia State Bar or group comprising such persons who are engaged in pro bono activity. Law firms, corporate legal departments, nonprofit legal services organizations are no longer eligible for this award (Cf., Frankie Muse Freeman Organizational Pro Bono Award) and persons whose livelihood is derived from delivering legal services to the poor are also not eligible.

See the awards page for nomination details and deadline.

Past Recipients

  • The Honorable Lewis F. Powell Jr. (1991—Richmond) The late associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, prior to serving on the bench, helped create a national network of legal aid programs.
  • Oliver W. Hill (1992—Richmond) The late civil rights icon pioneered challenges to segregation as a lead lawyer in Brown v. Board of Education.
  • Ellen S. Weinman (1993—Salem) Donated more than a dozen years to representing women and children survivors of domestic violence.
  • Marion Toomey Baker (1994—Lynchburg) Volunteered as the primary family law attorney at Virginia Legal Aid Society for over a decade.
  • The Honorable James Keith (1995—Fairfax) The late circuit court judge served as an in-house pro bono attorney with Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV) for a dozen years after retiring from the bench.
  • John C. Kenny (1996—Richmond) The late Central Virginia Legal Aid board member helped generate thousands of dollars in charitable contributions and donations of professional services from volunteer lawyers.
  • Donald F. Mela (1997—Alexandria) The late advocate spent close to a decade assisting the pro bono efforts of the Alexandria Bar Association and LSNV.
  • John M. Levy (1998—Williamsburg) For 30 years, engaged in law reform work, recruited pro bono attorneys, and personally delivered legal services to groups representing the poor.
  • The Law Firm of Hunton & Williams (1998—Richmond-based) (1) met the ABA’s challenge to major firms to devote 3% of billable hours to pro bono and, (2) implemented a menu of volunteer service options.
  • The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bar Association (1998) Sustained, for more than 15 years, an effective pro bono program with Blue Ridge Legal Services that includes a presumption of universal participation.
  • Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (1999—McLean) The Legal Division contributed direct pro bono legal services and other support to clients of LSNV for eight years.
  • Steven D. Rosenfield (2000—Charlottesville) For two decades zealously advocated on behalf of prisoners and the poor through pro bono and court-appointed cases.
  • The Virginia Beach Bar Association CLASS Project (2001) For seven years, VBBA volunteers aided survivors of domestic violence.
  • The Community Tax Law Project (2001—Richmond-based) Since 1992, more than 100 volunteer lawyers and accountants have assisted low-income taxpayers.
  • Donald T. Floyd (2002) Volunteered about 20 hours a week over eight years at Central Virginia Legal Aid.
  • Steven D. Benjamin (2003—Richmond) A lifetime of professional service has included ongoing leadership efforts to reform indigent defense.
  • Stephen A. Northup (2004—Richmond) Volunteered on death penalty cases and helped institutionalize pro bono at Troutman Sanders LLP.
  • The Fairfax Bar Pro Bono Program (2004) Developed an in-house capacity to supplement legal aid through new programs.
  • Joseph W. Gorrell (2005—Fredericksburg) Devoted at least one day per week for nine years to needy clients of Rappahannock Legal Services.
  • David P. Baugh (2006—Richmond) Devoted decades to pro bono representation on high-profile First Amendment cases and zealously defended, for nominal compensation, broadly unpopular indigent criminal defendants.
  • John M. Oakey Jr. (2007—Richmond) Subsequent to his retirement as a full-time partner at McGuireWoods LLP, he served more than eight years as a model pro bono attorney. 
  • Volunteer Faculty and Cooperating Counsel affiliated with the Caplin Center at the UVa School of Law (2007—Charlottesville) Supervised and mentored law students to contribute exponentially to the thousands of hours of pure pro bono donated to the community.
  • Phyllis C. Katz (2008—Richmond) Co-founded LINC, the nonprofit Legal Information Network for Cancer, which over a dozen years aided more than 3,000 patients with the business side of cancer diagnoses.
  • Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. (2009—Richmond) spent a lifetime volunteering in the civil rights arena and accepted undercompensated court-appointed cases exploring a civil right to counsel.
  • William B. Reichhardt (2010—Fairfax) His pro bono teaching and mentoring efforts were crucial in expanding the statewide legal aid pool of qualified special education advocates. 
  • Gail Starling Marshall (2011—Rapidan) Recognized for lifelong achievements that encompassed first amendment litigation, death penalty review cases, challenges to the Commonwealth’s parole system, and the development and delivery of free and affordable legal services.  
  • Robert F. Redmond Jr. (2012—Richmond), though a products liability lawyer by trade, he collaborated with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and others to establish and sustain for seven years a monthly legal clinic for underserved recent immigrants. A partner at Williams Mullen, he is helping to expand the clinic to Northern Virginia and also helped to form a policy group to ensure that legislation aimed at illegal immigration does not harm the state’s business reputation.
  • Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the William & Mary Law School (2013—Williamsburg)
  • Legal Information Network for Cancer (Richmond) and M. Steven Weaver (Harrisonburg) and Glenn M. Hodge (Harrisonburg) — 2014
  • George H. Hettrick (2015 — Richmond) Chair of the Pro Bono Leadership Committee at Hunton & Williams
  • Law Firm of Hoover Penrod PLC. (2016 — Harrisonburg)
  • Ofelia Calderón (2017 — Fairfax)
  • G. Andrew Nea Jr. (2018 — Richmond)
  • Hebert “Herb” L. Sebren Jr. (2019 — Tappahannock)
  • Bary Hausrath and Chip Clapp Co-recipients, (2020 – Richmond and Fairfax, respectively)
  • Charlie Phillips, (2021 – Roanoke)
  • Lonnie “Chip” D. Nunley III, (2022 – Richmond)