Partner Dan Woods of global law firm White Case LLP has been chosen as a recipient of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation's 2011 John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award. Woods was chosen for the award for his pro bono representation of the Log Cabin Republicans in its successful federal court challenge to the constitutionality of the US government's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military.
"It is an honor to receive this prestigious award, which I am grateful to accept on behalf of our client and the entire White & Case team that worked on the case," said Woods. "I also view it as recognition to our armed forces members who want nothing more than to serve their country honorably and who bravely put themselves in harm's way so that all Americans can all enjoy the constitutional rights and freedoms that they themselves are being denied."
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. In 2004, Woods filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Log Cabin Republicans challenging the constitutionality of the law. After nearly six years of litigation, the case was tried in 2010 before US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, who struck down the law as unconstitutional on both due process and First Amendment grounds and issued a global injunction preventing its enforcement.
Woods led a team of eight White & Case lawyers: partner Fernando Aenlle-Rocha, counsel Earle Miller and associates Rachel Feldman, Lauren Fujiu, Patrick Hagan, Aaron Kahn, Devon Myers and Melanie Scott.
In addition to receiving the ABA award, Woods was recognized as a 2010 "Attorney of the Year" by The Recorder and as a "California Lawyer Attorney of the Year" by California Lawyer magazine for his work on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The case was also singled out by the Daily Journal as the 2010 "Top Plaintiff's Verdict" and earned the Firm recognition as a top innovator in pro bono services in the Financial Times "US Innovative Lawyers 2010" report.
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.
The ABA will present Woods with the award during its Litigation Section Annual Conference, to be held April 13-15, 2011, in Miami, FL.
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