The Foundation of the American Board of Trial Advocates presented its highest honor, the Mark P. Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award, to Baylor Law alumnus Lewis R. Sifford. The award was presented at ABOTA's National Board of Directors Meeting, at the Hotel Grand Del Mar in San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 14. Mark P. Robinson, Jr., the son of the organization's late founder, joined Collins at the presentation. Mr. Sifford becomes only the second recipient of the award. Gordon S. Rather, Jr., of Little Rock, Ark., received the award in 2009.
"We wanted to recognize someone who, not for months or years, but for decades, has provided leadership and diligent effort to the many programs championed by the ABOTA Foundation," said Joel W. Collins, Jr., 2008 Foundation President and partner in the Columbia, S.C., firm of Collins and Lacy. Collins added that Mr. Sifford has both the visionary spirit of a true leader combined with the work ethic and ability to carry out plans at the local, state and national levels.
Sifford is a longtime Diplomate, holding ABOTA's highest membership rank with more 150 civil jury trials tried to verdict. He was National President of ABOTA in 2007. He has been a member of the association's National Board of Directors since 1995, chaired multiple committees, served as President of the Dallas Chapter in 1994, and served as President of Texas Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates (TEX-ABOTA) in 1999. From 2002-2005 he served as the national organization's Treasurer. In 1997, he received the Foundation's Masters in Trial Award and in 2000 he was named Texas Trial Lawyer of the Year by TEX-ABOTA. Sifford has participated in more than 150 trial demonstrations and assisted in establishing the Civil Trial Jury Institute of Russia at the University of Moscow. In 2010, he was a member of the faculty of the inaugural ABOTA Trial College at Princeton University and will be a faculty member at the ABOTA Trial College at Harvard Law School in July of this year.
He received his bachelor's degree from Baylor University in 1971 and his J.D. from Baylor Law School in 1972. He is the President and Shareholder of Sifford Anderson & Co., P.C. of Dallas. He served as an Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law from 1986-2006. He is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Litigation Counsel of America, and he is a member the American College of Legal Medicine and the College of the State Bar of Texas.
"This prestigious honor, recognizing the devotion of Lewis to the preservation of our Seventh Amendment jury system, is so fitting," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "The honor is a salute to the unflagging work and devotion of Lewis and it likewise reflects honor upon Baylor Law School as we have enjoyed the friendship, support and service of Lewis over the decades. Our program is marked by our excellence in trial advocacy and our deep respect for our jury system, each of which marks the professional life of this wonderful friend and gentleman."
The Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award was created in honor of ABOTA's founding father and first President, Mark P. Robinson of Los Angeles. It is given in recognition of a lifetime of dedicated service to ABOTA, leadership of the legal profession and preservation of the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ABOTA Foundation was established in 1991 to provide education to the American public about the right to trial by jury and to promote the professional education of trial attorneys. It produces Justice by the People, an interactive educational program designed for grades 5-8 and made available through Scholastic, Inc. The American Board of Trial Advocates, founded in 1958, is an organization dedicated to defending the American civil justice system. With a membership of 6,700 experienced attorneys representing both plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases, ABOTA is uniquely qualified to speak for the value of the constitutionally mandated jury system as the protector of the rights of persons and property. ABOTA publishes Voir Dire magazine, which features in-depth articles on current and historical issues related to constitutional rights, in particular the Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury. ABOTA and the ABOTA Foundation's national headquarters are in Dallas.