Events

The William O. Douglas Award Dinner

The William O. Douglas Award Dinner is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation. It is attended by nearly 1,200 people from the legal, political, entertainment, philanthropic, and corporate communities, who gather together annually to support Public Counsel’s work and recognize those whose accomplishments have forever changed our community, our nation, and our world for the better. The event is Public Counsel’s annual flagship fundraiser, bringing in millions to support its pro bono legal services, community-building and advocacy efforts, and groundbreaking civil rights litigation in L.A. and across the nation.

Video Highlights from Past Dinners

John Legend accepts Public Counsel’s 2021 William O. Douglas Award.
Betsy Beers accepts Public Counsel’s Inaugural Trailblazer in the Arts Award.
50th anniversary – looking back at highlights of recent award dinners.
Governor Gavin Newsom accepts Public Counsel’s 2019 William O. Douglas Award.
Mike Farrell accepts Public Counsel’s 2018 William O. Douglas Award.
Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. accepts the 2017 William O. Douglas Award.

2021 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

John Legend accepts Public Counsel’s 2021 William O. Douglas Award.
Betsy Beers accepts Public Counsel’s Inaugural Trailblazer in the Arts Award.
Dan Clivner accepts Public Counsel’s 2021 Law Firm Pro Bono Award on behalf of Sidley Austin LLP.
Mark Rosenbaum presents Public Counsel’s 2021 Law Firm Pro Bono Award to Sidley Austin LLP.

2020 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

In 2020, we held a virtual 50th-anniversary celebration to ensure the safety of our supporters.
50th anniversary – looking back at highlights of recent award dinners.

2019 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Governor Gavin Newsom accepts Public Counsel’s 2019 William O. Douglas Award.
New Directions Veterans Choir performs at Public Counsel’s 2019 William O. Douglas Dinner.
A message from our clients who attended the dinner.
Highlights and reflections from a beautiful evening.

2018 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Mike Farrell accepts Public Counsel’s 2018 William O. Douglas Award.
Aloe Blacc performs at Public Counsel’s 2018 Douglas Dinner.
Recognition and tributes for Mike Farrell.

2017 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. accepts the 2017 William O. Douglas Award.
Celebrating Reverend James Lawson – a civil rights giant.

2016 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Bryan Stevenson accepts Public Counsel’s 2016 William O. Douglas Award.
John Legend’s encore performance of “Glory” at Public Counsel’s 2016 William O. Douglas Award Dinner.
John Legend performs “Redemption Song” & “All of Me” at Public Counsel’s 2016 Dinner.
Dolores Huerta accepts Public Counsel’s 2015 William O. Douglas Award.
Eva Longoria salutes Public Counsel and Dolores Huerta.
Rand April, Interim President & CEO, speaks at 2015 Douglas Dinner.
Secretary Hillary Clinton accepts Public Counsel’s 2014 William O. Douglas Award
Senator Elizabeth Dole accepts Public Counsel’s 2013 William O. Douglas Award
Elie Wiesel accepts Public Counsel’s 2012 William O. Douglas Award.
Legal, art, and film leaders honor David Johnson.
Oprah Winfrey tribute to Elie Wiesel.
Itzhak Perlman tribute to Elie Wiesel.
Natalie Portman tribute to Elie Wiesel.
Sidney Poitier tribute to Elie Wiesel.
Hillary Clinton tribute to Elie Wiesel .
Bill Clinton Accepts Public Counsel’s 2011 William O. Douglas Award.
Tammy Duckworth accepts Public Counsel’s 2010 William O. Douglas Award.
Mike Farrell presents William O. Douglas Award to L. Tammy Duckworth.
President Bill Clinton’s delivers greeting at Public Counsel’s 2010 William O. Douglas Dinner.

Our Past Honorees

2021 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

We recognized four distinguished honorees for their trailblazing commitments to inclusivity and representation and initiatives to bring about social justice. We presented the William O. Douglas Award to John Legend, honored Sidley Austin LLP with the Law Firm Pro Bono Award, recognized Betsy Beers with the inaugural Trailblazer in the Arts Award, and Netflix received the Corporate Achievement Award.

Read more

2020 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

To keep our supporters safe in the midst of the pandemic, we produced a 50th Anniversary Livestream Special. The show was hosted by Tanya Acker, Public Counsel Boardmember and host of the CBS hit show Hot Bench, and featured a number of surprise guests, including a congratulatory message from President Bill Clinton. Hundreds gathered virtually to celebrate 50-years of advancing justice, hope, and opportunity for all.

Watch here

2019 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate Public Counsel’s remarkable accomplishments and distinguished honorees at our 2019 William O. Douglas Award Dinner on Thursday, October 24, 2019, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. It was our privilege to honor Governor Gavin Newsom with the William O. Douglas Award, Toyota with our Corporate Achievement Award, and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP with our Law Firm Pro Bono Award.

2018 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Our William O. Douglas Award recipient, actor and activist Mike Farrell, gave a powerful speech that brought the crowd to a standing ovation. The evening’s other honorees included Participant Media, recipient of the Corporate Achievement Award, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, recipient of the Law Firm Pro Bono Award, and Audrey Irmas, recipient of the inaugural Audrey Irmas Social Justice Impact Award. Guests were also treated to a wonderful performance by world-renowned artist, Aloe Blacc.

2017 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

On June 29th, 2017, Public Counsel staff, friends, and supporters gathered at the annual William O. Douglas Award Dinner. In addition to celebrating the work of Public Counsel, the event honored civil rights hero Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. with the William O. Douglas Award, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP with the Law Firm Pro Bono Award, and The Walt Disney Company with the Corporate Achievement Award. The event raised nearly $2.2 million to support the important work of Public Counsel.

2016 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

More than 1,200 supporters joined us in honoring Bryan Stevenson, Sidley Austin LLP and Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. for their commitment to ensuring equal access to justice for all. Bryan Stevenson said it best when he received the Douglas Award, “Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Injustice prevails where hopelessness persists. And the work of Public Counsel is rooted in hope.” Other special guests included Michael B. Jordan, Tanya Acker, Mike Farrell, and two very special performances by John Legend.

2015 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

On June 17th, 2015, more than 1,000 Los Angeles leaders raised over $2.1 million to support the work of Public Counsel at our 39th annual William O. Douglas Award Dinner. Civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, this year’s Douglas Award honoree, led the room in a resounding and inspiring chant, “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power! What kind of power? People power! What kind of power? Legal power! Que viva Public Counsel!”

2014 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Public Counsel honored former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 2014 William O. Douglas Award Dinner. The event also recognized corporate champion Qualcomm with the Corporate Achievement Award, law firm Arnold & Porter LLP with the Law Firm Pro Bono Award, and Public Counsel past board chairpersons Rand April of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and Roman Silberfeld of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, with the Founders Award for their commitment to justice for all.

2013 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Public Counsel honored Elizabeth Dole with our William O. Douglas Award on September 12, 2013, and announced a new partnership to give legal support to caregivers supporting wounded warriors and military veterans. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented the Douglas Award to Senator Dole, and videos from music legend Garth Brooks, actor Gary Sinise, Jay Leno, and former Cabinet Secretaries Donna Shalala and George Shultz paid tribute to Senator Dole’s remarkable achievements in public safety and service.

2012 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

It was a night of history and hope as Public Counsel honored Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel with the 2012 William O. Douglas Award. In addition, Public Counsel board member and former Chair David Johnson received the Founders Award, becoming the fifth person to receive the honor in Public Counsel’s 41-year history. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced him and shared a moving tribute video.

2011 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Public Counsel honored the 42nd President of the United States and founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation Bill Clinton with the 2011 William O. Douglas Award, celebrating Public Counsel’s 40 years of service to communities across the country. In addition, Public Counsel recognized Irell & Manella LLP, which received the Law Firm Pro Bono Award, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris presented the Corporate Achievement Award to CBS.

2010 William O. Douglas Award Dinner

Public Counsel honored VA Assistant Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth with the 2010 William O. Douglas Award.

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