Purpose of the Burton Awards
Now in its Seventeenth Year and Quickly Becoming an Institution
In 1999, a unique national awards program was established to reward great achievements in law. These achievements range from legal writing to publications to the greatest reforms in law. The principal focus is awarding effective legal writing. The program honors partners in law firms and law school students who use plain, clear and concise language in their writing.
The Burton Foundation
Not-for-Profit, Academic, and Cultural Effort
The Burton Foundation is a volunteer, not-for-profit, academic organization concentrating on legal writing. With tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) corporation, it offers full tax deductibility for contributors.
William C. Burton, Esq.
William C. Burton is a partner in Sagat|Burton LLP., New York. He is the founder and Chairman of the Burton Awards Program. His practice is devoted to lobbying at the federal and state levels of government. He has served as a New York State Assistant Attorney General and an Assistant New York State Special Prosecutor. For fifteen years, he was Director of Government Affairs and handled legislative and regulatory matters for Continental Insurance, one of America's largest insurance companies. He is the author of BURTON'S LEGAL THESAURUS, the first and only reference book ever written for the legal profession. The book is now in its fourth edition. When it was published Mr. Burton was given an award by the Association of American Publishers for the book's uniqueness and creativity.
In 1999, Mr. Burton created the Burton Foundation and the Burton Awards program to encourage perfection and reward excellence in the legal profession. The nonprofit Burton Awards program is run in association with the Library of Congress.
In 2011, Mr. Burton was awarded the highest award by the Legal Writing Institute, the second largest organization of law professors in the United States. The honor and tribute was given for his advocacy and impact on legal writing. Later in 2011, he was presented the "Blackstone Award" by the Friends of the Law Library of Congress for embodying and promoting the best ideals of the venerable institution.
The Inaugural Awards Program
On July 12, 2000, more than 200 guests attended the inaugural program at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. 12 law-firm winners and 10 law school recipients were recognized.
The master of ceremonies was Paul Duke, moderator emeritus of the television show, Washington Week in Review. At the inaugural program, the Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government participated, with Deputy Director Annetta Cheek speaking on the importance of reforming legal writing. The program received major press attention, with articles in the National Law Journal, New York Law Journal, New York Times, USA Today, California Lawyer, Legal Times and many other publications.
In 2001, the function was held at Carnegie Hall and the Master of Ceremonies was Roger Cossack, co-host of CNN's Burden of Proof. Instead of only the top 250 largest firms being invited to participate, the nomination process was extended to the top 500 law firms in the United States.
One year later, in 2002, Tom Brokaw was the guest speaker at the event held at the New York Palace. A special posthumous award was presented to honor Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Elizabeth Pugh, General Counsel for The Library of Congress accepted the award in memory of Justice Holmes. In 2003 Tim Russert attended the event as the main speaker. A new association was forged with the Library of Congress. The event was held in the Great Hall in the Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C.
A new award was presented for the Outstanding Reform in Law. The Judicial Council of California won the coveted prize and Justice Jim Ward of the California Court of Appeal accepted on behalf of the association. The Committee on Jury Instructions won for its efforts to rewrite the civil and criminal jury instructions. Since California has the largest court system in the United States, this was a critically important task and will have an impact on its sister states.
Applications and attachments may be submitted by mail or online, solely by managing partners in the nation's 1000 largest law firms, as well as by law school deans.
The Selection Process
Thorough Scrutiny, Complete Review
The quality and number of submissions by law firms and law schools has been extremely competitive. Award recipients were selected from nominations by deans of all of the law schools in America, as well as from nominations by managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms.