Katharine and George Alexander with 2008 Alexander Prize winner Bryan Stevenson and Dean Donald PoldenIt is important to applaud lawyers who show courage, self-sacrifice, and a commitment to justice. But it’s even better to back that praise with a $1 million endowment for a Prize recognizing those qualities.

In 2007, Santa Clara University’s School of Law announced the establishment of the "Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize" which will be awarded  annually on March 8th.  The Award is intended to bring recognition to lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity.  George Alexander is Dean Emeritus of the Law School, having served as dean for 15 years and as Professor of Law and the Sutro Professor for 34 years. Katharine Alexander practiced law for 25 years as a Santa Clara County Attorney and taught law courses for several years at San Jose State University. The Alexanders reside in Los Altos Hills.

After consideration of dozens of candidates from across the globe, the Law School announced that Professor Bryan Stevenson of New York University was the first recipient of the Alexander Law Prize. Professor Stevenson is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, where he and his colleagues have helped reduce or overturn death sentences in more than sixty cases.

On March 8, 2008, Professor Stevenson was honored at a special dinner held at the Hotel Valencia on Santana Row in San Jose. The ceremony was attended by a large group of law scholars, judges, lawyers and friends.

In his acceptance speech, Stevenson displayed precisely the qualities the Prize sought to honor. His remarks were poignant and spellbinding, ranging from his description of his grandmother’s encouragement that he was special and should devote his life to helping those in need, to his evocative portrayal of the mistreatment of death penalty inmates, including young children. He talked about the rewards of a life spent in service to others, and of the enormous need for lawyers, especially young graduates, to use their considerable skills to serve social justice. In describing the work he has done, and the work that yet remains to be done, he thanked the audience for its dedication to social causes, and he gently, but persuasively, encouraged those in attendance to continue to inspire and train the next generations of human rights advocates.

Nominations are now being gathered for next year’s Alexander Law Prize recipient. To learn more about the Award and make a nomination, please visit http://law.scu.edu/alexanderprize

About Santa Clara University School of Law

The SCU School of Law, founded in 1912, combines a tradition of excellence with a commitment to ethics, diversity, and social justice, and is fully accredited by the American Bar Association. Many of its 974 students work in criminal and civil community law clinics, and may earn certificates in intellectual property law, international law, or public interest law. Law degrees may be combined with an MBA or a master’s in taxation. The School of Law also offers lawyers master’s degrees in international and intellectual property law. More information is online at www.scu.edu/law.