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.

Winners of the Samuel E. Gates Litigation Award

2016
Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis

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

2015
Hon. Allan van Gestel, Fellow

Boston Massachusetts

View a list of past recipients

2013

Donald R. Dunner, Fellow

Washington, District of Columbia

 

2011

James B. Sales, Fellow

Houston, Texas

 

2008

Hon. Judith S. Kaye

Chief Judge of the State of New York Court of Appeals

New York, New York

 

2007

Hon. Ronald M. George

Chief Justice of California

San Francisco, California

 

2004

Garry D. Watson, Q.C.

Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

Toronto, Ontario

 

2003

William R. Jones, Jr., Fellow

Phoenix, Arizona

 

2004

Hon. Robert R. Merhige, Jr.

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

Richmond, Virginia

 

2002

James E. Coleman, Jr., Fellow

Dallas, Texas

 

2000

James J. Brosnahan, Fellow

San Francisco, California

 

1999

Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson

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

Pasadena, California

 

1997

Honorable Patrick E. Higginbotham

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

Dallas, Texas

 

1993

Honorable William J. Brennan, Jr.

Supreme Court of the United States

Washington, District of Columbia

 

1991

Honorable William W. Schwarzer

Director, The Federal Judicial Center

Washington, District of Columbia

 

1990

Honorable Sam C. Pointer

Chief Judge of the United States District Court

Birmingham, Alabama

 

1989

Honorable David Hittner

United States District Judge, Southern District of Texas

Houston, Texas

 

1988

Professor A. Leo Levin

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

1987

Robert W. Meserve, Fellow

Boston, Massachusetts

 

1986

Professor Daniel J. Meador

University of Virginia School of Law

Charlottesville, Virginia

 

1985

Professor John W. Reed

University of Michigan Law School

Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

1984

Honorable Robert E. Keeton

United States District Judge

Boston, Massachusetts

 

1983

Joseph A. Ball, Fellow

Los Angeles, California

 

1982

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

 

1981

Honorable Edward Weinfeld

United States District Judge, Southern District of New York