Dellinger receives The American Lawyer's Lifetime Achievement Award

October 25, 2013Duke Law News

Walter Dellinger III

Walter Dellinger III, the Douglas B. Maggs Professor Emeritus of Law, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Lawyer on Oct. 29, in New York.

 The Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to “men and women who had distinguished careers at the country’s preeminent law firms and legal departments; accomplished practitioners who found the time to help the indigent or take a few years (and a pay cut) to do government service.”

Dellinger, a leading Supreme Court advocate, also is a member of the appellate practice group at O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., where he is a partner.  In announcing the award in September, The American Lawyer cited such accomplishments as Dellinger’s leadership of the Office of Legal Counsel and 14-month service as U.S. solicitor general during the Clinton administration; his mentorship of other lawyers, including U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sri Srinivasan; and his amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the recent challenge to California’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage. 

Asked by the magazine to list his greatest professional achievement, Dellinger cited his public service.  “The single thing I'm most proud of is having run the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department for nearly four years without having any serious regrets about the decisions we made. Telling the White House no is never easy, but we did it every time we thought the law made ‘no’ the right answer.”

“Walter's lifetime achievement award is richly deserved,” said Christopher Schroeder, the Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies and co-director of the Program in Public Law who served with Dellinger in the Office of Legal Counsel.  “His career spans outstanding achievements in academia, in public service at the highest levels of the federal government, in pro bono work, in work for the organized bar and in private practice.   His accomplishments in any of these areas would be enough to make a successful career; combined they mark a career that is truly extraordinary.  Where ever he has been working, he has also been an invaluable mentor to countless people, as well as a trusted adviser and a truly delightful colleague.”

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