William Morris Award


William E. Morris

Pro Bono Service Award

Awarded to recognize extraordinary contributions by an Arizona Attorney in making legal services available to persons who otherwise could not afford them, and thereby to focus public awareness on the substantial voluntary services by Arizona attorneys in this area. Renamed in 2000 to honor the memory of William E. Morris, a long-time attorney for the poor in Arizona.

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.

2020 Awardee


Karen Nygaard

Karen Nygaard has been volunteering to assist low income individuals with civil legal issues for decades.  She spent years with Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyer Program as a highly effective volunteer advocate and demonstrated a genuine interest in helping those most in need.

When she was appointed to the Pima County Superior Court bench, she continued to assist the SALA’s VLP by joining the advisory board, leading continuing legal education seminars and helping recognize other outstanding volunteers. 

She most recently became a founding member of Step Up to Justice where she serves on the board and finance/compliance work group.

Ms. Nygaard has also volunteered for many years with Child & Family Resources including being Chair of their board. She worked with the Family Law Court in Pima County to start clinics at the courthouse and assisted in revising forms to make them more comprehensible to the general public.

Karen has made volunteering and supporting access to justice a central part of her 40 year career and continues to make her expertise available to those in need.

2019 Awardee


Sesaly Stamps

Ms. Stamps has provided pro bono legal services for Pima County’s indigent clients since 2011.  She regularly volunteers for bankruptcy/consumer debt advice clinics and employment and employment advice clinics. In 2018, she gave fifteen pro bono hours in clinics. Over the years, she has taken fifteen direct referral pro bono cases.

Recently, she donated 52 hours to a pro bono wage claim case where the client obtained default judgement of damages, fees, and costs totaling about $30,000.  In another 2018 case, a single mother with two small children, one of who has serious health concerns was referred by Southern Arizona Legal Aid.  This client sought further assistance after an advice-only clinic for getting unpaid wages from a former employer.  Ms. Stamps sent a letter demanding payment of the wages and damages in the total amount of $600. After multiple emails with the employer’s management representatives, they finally sent a check for the full amount. $600 may not seem like much money for some, but obtaining this settlement was a significant benefit to this client.  This empathy with our community members and their needs is why Ms. Stamps is such a valuable volunteer attorney.

2018 Awardee


Nancy Tribbensee

Dedicating 20 years of pro bono service, Nancy has exemplified her dedication and drive in serving at-need Arizonans. The Volunteer Lawyers Program expressed their great appreciation for her commitment to excellence and immense compassion, which is clear in all her years of service. She has shown a specific interest in providing pro bono services to children, specifically those at are at-risk minors. Nancy has represented over 40 minor guardianship cases, and has also taken on cases involving grandparents as guardians, incarcerated parents, disability, abuse, and neglect. In addition, she has helped many individuals with refugee statuses who had complicated cases (e.g. needing legal documentation).

Nancy is constantly engaging with the Arizonan in attempt to make positive changes in our state. She has always demonstrated an interest in fostering and advising young lawyers, as she has mentored over 250 volunteer attorneys in child-specific legal matters. She also serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to the Arizona Board of Regents. The community is appreciative of her kindness and devotion to at-need Arizonans.

2017 Awardee


Lee Bennett

Lee Bennett has volunteered for Community Legal Services Volunteer Lawyer Program for the last 6 years. In that time he has served at least 385 families, spent half a day each week at the VLP office interviewing and advising people, and provided additional assistance outside of the initial clinic to do further investigation to help advocate for the client.  He provided extensive representation to 5 clients with complex civil legal problems.  Lee provides efficient and effective interviews and case summaries enabling VLP to better determine if full representation is needed or to help aid another potential volunteer attorney in taking the case.

In one case, Mr. Bennett worked with a woman who was disable by a rare blood disease. Lee helped for 18 months and obtained an economic benefit of $202,553 for the client on a home ownership issue.

The justice community thanks Lee for the quantity and quality of his pro bono service and his outstanding commitment to helping clients.

Denice Shepherd

Skip Skinner

Katherine McLeod


Stanley Friedman


Rob Ferrier


Ben Smith


David Sanderson


Dean Christoffel


Debra Hill


Cary Inabinet

Tom Roberts

Scott Gan

David Engelman

Pamela Liberty

Alyce Pennington

Luis Ochoa

Steven Cox

Wayne Yehling

Stephen Anderson
& Roy Petty
& Michael McGrath

Christina Urias

Philip (Jay) McCarthy, Jr.

Michael J. Tucker

Dianne C. Kerns (Sole Practitioner)
Robert E. Miles

Hon. Robert W. Pickrell (Sole Practitioner)
Thomas M. Ryan

Rev. David A. Meyers

Lawrence A. Hammond

Nancy M. Coomer

John A. Greene

William T. Birmingham

Ted F. Warner


4201 N 24 STREET
STE. 210

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