The American Bar Association honored MoFo veteran trial lawyer Jim Brosnahan with its prestigious John H. Pickering Achievement Award on August 8, 2019 during the organization’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
The ABA chose Jim, Senior Of Counsel in MoFo’s Trial and Appellate practices, to receive the award based on his outstanding legal ability, distinguished record of dedicated service to the profession and the community, and significant contributions to improving access to justice for all—all qualities of the award’s namesake, John H. Pickering.
To kick off the award ceremony, MoFo intellectual property litigation partner Jack Londen gave a stirring introduction of his colleague and mentor, saying, “I am 66 years old and I still have a hero.” Jack explained that true heroes have strong principles, are great teachers, show courage, and win tough battles— all qualities that Jim has demonstrated throughout his career.
Considered a “lion of the trial bar,” Jim is known for his exceptional legal ability and oral advocacy skills. Jim has tried 150 cases to completion with only 11 losses. He has represented countless pro bono clients in criminal and civil matters, earning him a reputation as a fighter for the underdog. His impact beyond the courtroom is equally impressive. Jim’s many contributions to the legal profession include:
- Serving as president of the Bar Association of San Francisco in 1977, and co-founding its Volunteer Legal Services Program (now called the Justice & Diversity Center).
- Serving as one of the earliest and most dedicated stalwarts of diversity in the legal profession and founder of the Minority Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco.
- Serving as one of the foremost teachers of trial litigation in the country and author of the Trial Handbook for California Lawyers.
- Serving as an outspoken supporter of the Civil Gideon movement, which seeks to establish a right to counsel in civil matters when basic human needs are at stake.
When it came time to accept his award, Jim explained that it is the responsibility of lawyers to serve people whose rights are being violated and to speak up when they see injustice. To better prepare the award dinner guests to meet that challenge, Jim arranged to have pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution at every place setting so attendees could copy his example of carrying the Constitution with them every day.
Suggesting that lawyers must continue to rise up and fight the good fight, especially in times of injustice, Jim concluded his remarks with Dylan Thomas’s famous words: “Do not go gentle into that good night.”