Foundation for Justice

Awarded to the attorney or attorneys who have devoted expertise and time to changing the justice system to promote access and opportunity for those most vulnerable.

Nominations are due March 1st and are to include the individual's name; firm if applicable; address & other contact information; the award for which they are being nominated and contact information of the nominators; a summary of their characteristics, experiences, and service that qualifies them for the award; and support letters from others may be included. The nomination packets should be sent to The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, ATTN: Kevin S. Ruegg, 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 210, Phoenix, AZ 85016 or email to [email protected]

Awards Acknowledged in conjunction with the Foundation participation in the annual Arizona State Bar Convention.


Be A Foundation Luncheon Sponsor!

2018 Award

Judge Robert GottsfieldHon. Robert Gottsfield

Judge Gottsfield served the public as a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge for 35 years and still continues to do so, despite being retired. With a specific interest in ‘access to justice’ issues regarding veterans, he has made initiatives to cater to this populations’ needs. At times certain needs of individuals go unmet, however Judge Robert, post-retirement, has attempted to prevent this by garnering a competent group of lawyers to provide legal services during those instances. In general, he is successful in providing solutions to countless Arizona veterans struggling with legal problems. Through the Andre House, he created a program that assists veterans with legal proceedings as they attempt to get their lives in order. His provision of pro bono services demonstrates his compassion and dedication to the public.

He is a liaison to the State Bar’s Military Legal Assistance Advisory Council and ensure that services are being provided across the board for veterans in legal matters. In 2012, he was inducted into the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was awarded the James A. Walsh Outstanding Jurist Award. And in 2017, he received the Award of Special merit from the Arizona State Bar Association. His humility, conscientiousness, and dedication are clear in his strong efforts with Andre House and St. Joseph the Worker, as well as his countless years of service.

2017 Award

Steven Hirsch

Steve HirschMuch of Steve’s contributions were “behind the scenes;” however, his voice and wise, practical counsel often made the critical difference in advancing the cause at issue.  His efforts to advance access to justice - both as past-President of the Bar Foundation and in his capacity as a member of the State Bar Board of Governors - were consistent, unrelenting and positive.  He served as Co-Chair of the Access to Justice Commissions Pro Bono workgroup and despite Steve’s recent illness, he was adamant about staying involved and, in fact, requested that he be reappointed to the Commission.

Steve was a respected and beloved member of the Arizona legal community and community at large precisely for the way he so generously gave of his time and talents. Steve was known to deliver just the right story or quip with just the right tenor and timing. He will be remembered by all who knew him as one who never backed down from a challenge yet always shared his grace and lightheartedness in leading others through challenging times or opportunities with a "can do" spirit.

2016 Award

Jerry StrickHon. Gerald Strick

Judge Strick was appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court bench in the summer of 1971. Within a very short time, Judge Strick had gained a reputation as one of the wisest and most sought-after judges in the County.  Judge Strick was requested to do so on multiple occasions by many, if not most of the best trial lawyers in the county, and he worked tirelessly to try to accommodate them all.  In those days, Superior Court judges's calendars were not specialized - most contained civil, criminal, domestic, probate and other cases.  Judge Strick developed a reputation for fairness, promptness and knowledge in all of those areas.

In 1974, Judge Strick was asked to transfer to the Juvenile Court, as "second in command" to Presiding Judge Robert Broomfield. (In those days there were only two judges assigned to the Juvenile Court.)  He did so, and began a long service dedicated to changing the way in which Juvenile Justice was administered in the County.  He and Judge Broomfield presided over a complete change in the Court, not only its facilities, which included a new courthouse, new detention center, new school, and new administrative offices, but in the way in which Juvenile Justice was administered and delivered.  During his tenure, Judge Strick helped to introduce a system less concerned with punishment and "warehousing," and much more concerned with saving juveniles from a criminal life, from a system treating dependent children more like criminals, and from an administrative system more concerned with rules and regulations than with the best interests of children.  Throughout his time at the Juvenile Court, Judge Strick accomplished those goals while gaining and retaining the respect of prosecutors, defenders, probation officers and others working within the system.



2015 Award

Snell and Wilmer

Nominated by Community Legal Services, DNA Peoples Legal Services and Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Snell & Wilmer developed a formal pro bono policy, which both reflected and encouraged the firm’s long-standing commitment to pro bono services. Starting in the late 1980's, this policy encouraged a flourishing of pro bono activity at the firm that continues today. Perhaps most significantly, the policy provided that Snell & Wilmer attorneys would receive hour-for-hour credit towards their annual billable goals for pro bono legal work performed on behalf of the poor. Snell & Wilmer was one of the first firms in the country to adopt such a policy. Snell & Wilmer remains dedicated to the communities in which we live and serve. As a law firm, the attorneys and paralegals regularly share their talents by providing pro bono legal services to the community. Their office implements a monthly schedule and assigns intake dates to participants each year. In 2014, over 9,288 pro bono hours, equating to over $3.8 million of gratuitous legal services, were provided from the Arizona offices. As a whole, over 19,572 pro bono hours, which equated to over $7.9 million of gratuitous legal services, were provided by the firm.

In addition to the strong support and pro bono service through the Volunteer Lawyer Programs, Snell & Wilmer supports the Veteran’s Court and Annual StandDown Event. Arizona StandDown is an annual event held at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The event provides numerous services to at-risk veterans, including a make-shift Veterans Court and legal clinic. For the fourth year, firm attorneys and staff played an integral role at Arizona StandDown with almost 1,000 veterans in attendance. The firm’s key focus for 2014 was to help the growing number of veterans who have legal issues in other states. This year, approximately 150 homeless and at-risk veterans fell into that group. The Snell & Wilmer team drew on its contacts across the country to assist in clearing warrants, reinstating drivers’ licenses and locating or provide general legal representation in other jurisdictions. Snell & Wilmer attorneys also represented veterans in the criminal courts present at the StandDown.

2014 Award

Anne Ronan

2013 Award

Ellen S. Katz

2012 Award

Gary Restaino

2011 Award

John Bouma

2010 Award

Elvera Anselmo

2009 Award

Mike Valder

2008 Award

Comm. Frederic Dardis

2007 Award

Keith Perkins

2006 Award

Hon. Colin Campbell

Inaugural 2005 Award

Hon. Scott Bales