Samuel E. Gates Litigation Award

This award is presented by the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers and was established in 1980 to honor a lawyer or judge who has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the litigation process.  The person selected might be a trial practitioner, a judge, a teacher, a writer, a legislator, an administrator, or initiator of organizations or programs, or some other person whose work has been substantively significant or who has inaugurated or advanced significant programs.

Samuel E. Gates was a President-Elect of the College who died shortly before he was to be sworn in. In Gates' memory, the College created the award in his name.  The award is funded by Gates' old firm, Debevoise and Plimpton of New York City.  Gates was recognized as a pioneer in the field of aviation law, playing a major role in shaping the laws and international conventions that govern airline flights, and in representing domestic and international airlines.

How To Submit a Nomination
A nominator need only submit a letter of support, and the award committee will complete an investigation before deciding whether to recommend the person to the Board of Regents. You may send your letter to

Winners of the Samuel E. Gates Litigation Award

Hon. Jeremy Fogel

Berekely Judicial Institute

Hon. Barbara M. G. Lynn

Dallas, Texas

M. David Lepofsky
Author and Adjunct Professor
Toronto, Ontario

Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis

Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System
Denver, Colorado

Hon. Allan van Gestel, Fellow

Boston, Massachusetts

View a list of past recipients


Donald R. Dunner, Fellow

Washington, District of Columbia



James B. Sales, Fellow

Houston, Texas



Hon. Judith S. Kaye

Chief Judge of the State of New York Court of Appeals

New York, New York



Hon. Ronald M. George

Chief Justice of California

San Francisco, California


Hon. Robert R. Merhige, Jr.

Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Ret.)
Richmond, Virginia


Garry D. Watson, Q.C.

Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

Toronto, Ontario



William R. Jones, Jr., Fellow

Phoenix, Arizona



James E. Coleman, Jr., Fellow

Dallas, Texas



James J. Brosnahan, Fellow

San Francisco, California



Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson

Senior Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Pasadena, California



Honorable Patrick E. Higginbotham

United States Circuit Judge, United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Dallas, Texas



Honorable William J. Brennan, Jr.

Supreme Court of the United States

Washington, District of Columbia



Honorable William W. Schwarzer

Director, The Federal Judicial Center

Washington, District of Columbia



Honorable Sam C. Pointer

Chief Judge of the United States District Court

Birmingham, Alabama



Honorable David Hittner

United States District Judge, Southern District of Texas

Houston, Texas



Professor A. Leo Levin

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Robert W. Meserve, Fellow

Boston, Massachusetts



Professor Daniel J. Meador

University of Virginia School of Law

Charlottesville, Virginia



Professor John W. Reed

University of Michigan Law School

Ann Arbor, Michigan



Honorable Robert E. Keeton

United States District Judge

Boston, Massachusetts



Joseph A. Ball, Fellow

Los Angeles, California



Honorable Erwin N. Griswold

Former Dean of the Law School of Harvard College and Former Solicitor General of the United States

Washington, District of Columbia



Honorable Edward Weinfeld

United States District Judge, Southern District of New York