Citizen Lawyer Awards

In 2001, the Louisiana State Bar Association instituted the Crystal Gavel Awards, designed to recognize outstanding lawyers and judges who have been unsung heroes and heroines in their communities. The award program was updated in 2014 and renamed the Citizen Lawyer Awards.

Nominees for this award should be individuals who have:

  • performed services in any of the listed categories out of a sense of duty, responsibility, and professionalism; and
  • made a difference in their local communities, in local organizations, or even in the life of one person.

Awards are presented in local communities throughout the state. There is no limit to the number of awards which will be presented, as the LSBA wishes to recognize all deserving individuals.

Citizen Lawyer Awards will be presented to lawyers and judges who have served the public in a number of areas, including:

  • aiding the administration of justice;
  • assisting groups or individuals on a volunteer basis in a non-legal capacity;
  • educating the public or individuals or students about legal matters;
  • providing pro bono legal services in a matter of a significant nature or in a significant numbers of cases; and
  • providing pro bono legal services in a way that significantly changed the life of one person or group.

Leah Hipple McKay Memorial Award

The Louisiana State Bar Association's (LSBA) Leah Hipple McKay Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism is the premier award of the LSBA's Citizen Lawyer Awards program. The award is named in honor of the late Leah Hipple McKay, a member of the LSBA and a deeply committed volunteer. The award is presented to a Louisiana lawyer or judge who has made significant long-term volunteer contributions.

The Board of Governors created this award in honor of Leah's considerable civic involvement and invaluable service provided to the LSBA during her husband Michael W. McKay's 2004-05 presidency.

A graduate of Louisiana State University and the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Leah practiced law for 12 years before retiring to raise her sons, James Watson McKay and Harris Anthony McKay. Leah regularly volunteered at Trinity Episcopal Day School, Brighton Academy and the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, an organization for which she had served as president. As an active member of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, Leah worked with community projects, League fundraisers and membership, as well as serving on the board of directors as membership vice president, by-law/parliamentarian, legal adviser and board secretary. She also generously gave of her time and talents to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation where she worked with the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and served on the membership committee.

Citizen Lawyer Awards Recipients
Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600