Foundation for Justice


Foundation for Justice

Awarded to legal service providers who have devoted expertise and time to changing the justice system to promote access and opportunity for those most vulnerable.

Nominations are due March 1st and are to include the individual's name; firm if applicable; address & other contact information; the award for which they are being nominated and contact information of the nominators; a summary of their characteristics, experiences, and service that qualifies them for the award; and support letters from others may be included. The nomination packets should be sent to The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, ATTN: Kevin S. Ruegg, 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 210, Phoenix, AZ 85016 or email to [email protected].

Awards Acknowledged in conjunction with the Foundation participation in the annual Arizona State Bar Convention.

2024 Awardee


Shawnna Riggers

Shawnna Riggers has become an integral part of the Community Legal Services Volunteer Lawyer Program's Children's Law Center.  For fourteen years, Shawnna has volunteered with the VLP assisting in clinics and direct representation.  But Shawnna is more than a active volunteer, as she works to make the system more accessible.  She assisted in launching the Juvenile Law Clinic which offers brief advice for unrepresented applicants in Juvenile Court.  She works to assist the VLP with acquiring reduced rates for studies to help complete severance and adoption cases. Ms. Riggers always goes above and beyond.

2023 Awardee


Diane Drain

Diane Drain's work goes beyond just volunteering, but truly seeking change and opportunity in the Bankruptcy system.  

In 2005, she partnered with Chief Bankruptcy Judge Curley to established the Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center.  Arizona historically has one of the highest bankruptcy pro se filing rates in the nation.  Diane had the vision for a place where any pro se could get free competent legal information and good legal advice.  Instead of just planting a seed of an idea, Diane continued to cultivate the work of the Center - at first being its only volunteer. Now the Self Help Center has grown to include a dedicated full time court staff and over 50 volunteers.  

She has also volunteered with Community Legal Services Volunteer Lawyers Program (CLS -VLP) since 1994 providing representation to families in financial distress.  She regularly provides training to VLP and CLS staff on current issues regarding bankruptcy and debts.  She has provided numerous free CLE's to volunteer attorneys and is a member of the VLP's Advisory Committee. 

2022 Awardee


Laura Guild

Laura has worked tirelessly throughout her career to assist and provide for those less fortunate. As a public servant, she has been a promoter of domestic violence advocacy and providing support for the homeless and people dealing with financial troubles.

As part of the Arizona Department for Economic Security’s domestic violence program, Laura has spent almost 25 years improved the lives of domestic violence victims of countless Arizonans through improving and expanding domestic violence services. She is celebrated for her top-to-bottom, hands-on approach, ranging from managing big projects to listening to and engaging with domestic abuse victims. She is also highly      regarded and respected as a professor at ASU where she  teaches classes on social work and social policy.

Laura has shown an astounding commitment to improving the lives of the people of Arizona and creating better services and resources to provide for victims of domestic abuse.


2021 Awardee


Daniel Barr

For well over a decade, Dan has been a fixture in the Arizona civil rights community. Dan has played an integral role in countless cases and continued coordination of the firm’s partnership with the Florence Project, ACLU and Lambda Legal to provide pro bono assistance.  Dan’s pro bono practice is focuses on matters where he and the firm can bring about the most change.

 Mr. Barr helped launch the Phoenix Legal Action Network (PLAN), a nonprofit dedicated to defending the rights of immigrants and their families. For more than 10 years, Dan has coordinated the District of Arizona’s pro bono program, which matches willing law firms and lawyers with pro se lawsuits determined would benefit from the appointment of counsel.

Dan believes “one of the many benefits of pro bono work is the empowerment it gives to young lawyers. Whether it is being a first chair lawyer in a jury trial in U.S. District Court, obtaining asylum for a refugee in Immigration Court, or working with the best and brightest lawyers from a leading national civil rights group on a case that brings about systemic change, the pro bono work that young lawyers at our firm do is extraordinary. Supervising their work in these cases is incredibly rewarding.”

2020 Awardee


Michele Mirto

Michele has spent over twenty-five years (starting right out of law school) coordinating and expanding the reach and delivery of pro bono legal services.    She was Director at Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program where she devoted her time and expertise to building what is considered one of the best Volunteer Lawyer Programs in the country. 

After 22 years with Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Michele believed there was a need in Pima County for volunteer legal services that were not tied to the restrictions of government funding.  She founded Step Up to Justice to assist more Arizonans with their legal needs by matching them with pro bono help.

SU2J has also expanded its services to include a Housing Outreach Mentoring and Education Program providing legal assistance to families facing discriminatory housing actions and evictions, predatory lending protection, and debt relief. With the James E.  Rogers College of Law, Michele’s organization also offers its Renter Education for Neighborhoods and Tenants workshops places where individuals can benefit from qualified advice on tenant practices.

She is invested in providing quality legal services to the poor and working poor in her community and has devoted her professional life to the development of innovative delivery models.

2019 Awardee


Judith Dworkin

Judy is listed by Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America®, and her leadership of her firm's Indian Law practice has earned "Band 1" status in "Native American Law - Arizona" by London-based Chambers and Partners.

She is admitted to the Navajo Nation Bar and has practiced before the Courts of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe and Navajo Nation.

In 2017, Ms. Dworkin, a board member of DNA People’s Legal Services, devoted countless hours to assisting to a crisis the agency faced.  She chaired DNA’s Compliance Committee, which had been formed to help the agency.  Judy understood that DNA was a crucial component to Arizonan access to justice and thus took ownership of getting the agency out of the crisis.  She met with partners from around the state and even with staff from the Legal Services Corporation.  Her efforts have directly resulted in many lives being made better through DNA.

Past Awardees

Hon. Robert Gottsfield

Steven Hirsch

Hon. Gerald Strick

Snell & Wilmer, LLP

Anne Ronan

Ellen S. Katz

Gary Restaino

John Bouma

Elvera Anselmo

Mike Valder

Comm. Frederic Dardis

Keith Perkins

Hon. Colin Campbell

Inaugural 2005 award
Justice Scott Bales


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