The LBA is proud to announce the 2020 award honorees. Although we could not hold our Awards Luncheon this year, we nevertheless recognize the outstanding work and achievements of our LBA members. Every Tuesday, we will announce two new award winners.


Justice Martin E. Johnstone Special Recognition Award



Daniel M. Alvarez Champion for Justice Award


Judge Benjamin F. Shobe Civility & Professionalism Award


Judge of the Year


Paul G. Tobin Pro Bono Service Award

In her role as director of public service/pro bono programming for the LBA over the last three years, Lea D. Hardwick was responsible for recruiting attorney volunteers to carry out projects and donate legal services to those who could not afford to pay for counsel. However, as an attorney, she often ended up doing the work herself. For instance, when there was a shortage of volunteers at the free bi-monthly pro se divorce clinics she oversaw, she jumped in to help unrepresented litigants dissolve bad marriages. Similarly, if no other attorney was available to help a detained undocumented immigrant prepare for a bond hearing, she took on the task and thereby increased the detainee’s likelihood of winning release and, in turn, of avoiding deportation. Her passion for assisting the less fortunate continues now that she has returned to working full time at the Legal Aid Society.

Robert and Frank E. Haddad Jr. Young Lawyer Award

After being admitted to the bar in 2015, Michael B. Harrell began his legal career as an attorney in the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office where he has labored in the adult trial division for the past five years. In addition to representing indigent criminal defendants charged with everything from misdemeanor traffic offenses to Class A felonies, he now supervises a team of nine attorneys. In his advocacy, he has demonstrated the skill, work ethic and devotion to client interests personified by this award’s namesakes, late brothers who were lions of the criminal defense bar.


The lifeblood of the LBA, sections are where professional colleagues meet to socialize, discuss the latest legal developments, share practice tips and participate together in public service activities. Because COVID-19 foreclosed in-person gatherings this year, the Litigation Section, chaired by Samuel W. Wardle, had to find new ways of connecting the trial bar. It did so by hosting a series of informational webinars that helped practitioners stay abreast of the many changes in local court procedures and policies brought about by the pandemic.

Formed in 2017, the Gender Equity Committee, chaired by Jennifer W. Kleier, has worked tirelessly on issues related to pay equity, parental leave and sexual harassement in the legal profession. This year, for example, the committee promulgated a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct that would make discrimination in the practice of law an ethical violation and bring Kentucky into line with 35 other states that have already adopted such a rule. The proposed amendment is currently working its way through the KBA Rules Committee on its way to consideration by the Kentucky Supreme Court.