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American Bar Association

2013 John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award



Larry Hammond 
Phoenix, AZ

Perkins Coie, LLP
San Francisco, CA


The John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award was established by the ABA Section of Litigation in 1990. It is named for The Honorable John Minor Wisdom, a scholar and jurist of the highest integrity whose tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is best known for its recognition of constitutional rights of all citizens.

Judge Wisdom left a profound mark on American jurisprudence and the civil rights movement during his 42-year career on the Fifth Circuit. He is renown for his landmark decisions ordering and implementing desegregation in the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. During the 1960s, despite virulent opposition and threats to his life, he issued opinions ordering integration at the University of Mississippi and requiring recalcitrant school boards to speed the pace of desegregation. He also joined in groundbreaking decisions that eliminated racial discrimination in jury selection and voter registration in Louisiana. As the New York Times reported on his death at age 94 in 1999, Wisdom was one of a “handful of remarkable men who prevailed by meeting the demands of the times with an innovative and creative judicial response that restructured an unjust social order and helped shape the nation in a second reconstruction and left a permanent imprint on American history.”

Each year the Section honors Judge Wisdom through the nomination and selection of outstanding individuals and firms to receive the award that bears his name. Recipients of the Wisdom Awards have made outstanding contributions to the quality of justice in their communities, ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. Learn more about past award recipients.

The deadline for receipt of the nomination forms and accompanying documentation is November 2013. If you have any questions about the Award, please contact Kieshia Cobb at kieshia.cobb@americanbar.org.