State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. will receive the American Bar Association's prestigious 2012 Dorsey Award in recognition of his long career of service providing legal assistance to the poor and disadvantaged.

The Dorsey Award is presented by the ABA's Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division in honor of an outstanding public defender or legal aid lawyer. It will be presented at a ceremony on August 3 in Chicago.

James, attorney-in-charge of criminal practice at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, became president of the State Bar Association on June 1. He is the first State Bar Association president to come from the nonprofit legal community since 1993-94 when the late Archibald R. Murray served as president. Murray was executive director of The Legal Aid Society.

"Mr. James' innovative projects and accomplishments have significantly improved the delivery of legal services to New York's most needy residents,"according to an American Bar Association (ABA) statement. "He integrated the use of social workers into the arraignment process to help identify clients with mental health issues and speedily develop a plan for access to essential services; he established the Trafficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy project; and he developed landmark case caps legislation to address excessive caseloads.

"In addition, through Mr. James' leadership in the Correctional Association of New York and the Osborne Association, he has worked indefatigably to develop community based prevention, rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration through public education and advocacy efforts."

James joined The Legal Aid Society in 1974 as a staff attorney in the criminal defense practice. He later served in supervisory positions in its Bronx, Kings and Queens county offices, including attorney-in-charge of the Queens office. In 2005, he was named attorney-in-charge of the criminal practice. In that role, he leads the trial, law reform, post-conviction, parole revocation and appellate criminal practice.

The New York State Bar Association, with 77,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the United States. It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Brandon Vogel
Media Writer