Denison Ray Civil Award

The Award is named in memory of career legal activist Denison (Denny) Ray, who led legal services programs in New York and other states. A total of four (4) awards will be presented. Two awards will be given to staff attorneys employed by nonprofit entities that provide free civil legal services to low-income clients. One award will be presented to a director of a civil legal services program or a director of a pro bono volunteer program.  An award also will be presented to a nonprofit organization that provides or facilitates the provision of civil legal services to low-income clients.  If the individual recipient is not a member of the New York State Bar Association s/he will be given a complimentary one-year membership.


The Civil Legal Services Staff Attorney Awards recognize individual attorneys’ extraordinary commitment to:

  • The provision of creative, skilled, and zealous representation of low-income clients;
  • Collaboration with pro bono volunteer attorneys from the private bar to expand access to justice opportunities for low-income clients; and/or
  • Efforts to inspire, mentor, and support colleagues in the delivery of exceptional legal representation to low-income clients.

The Director Award recognizes outstanding leadership at a civil legal services or pro bono program by an executive director or legal director who inspires the kind of extraordinary commitment by staff and service to the community set forth in the above criteria.

The Nonprofit Organization Award recognizes extraordinary commitment to

  • Strengthening access to justice initiatives;
  • Delivering or facilitating the provision of civil legal services to low-income and/or disadvantaged clients;
  • Increasing the provision of pro bono services; and/or
  • Marshaling resources to maximize services to the community.


Award recipients will be selected by a committee consisting of the chairs of the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, the Committee on Legal Aid, and the Director of the Department of Pro Bono Services.

Past Denison Ray Civil Awards Honorees