by Jessica D. Smith
The 34th Dallas Bar Association annual Stephen Philbin Awards for Excellence in Legal Reporting will be held Friday, October 13, at noon at the Belo Mansion. Winners in various news categories will be announced at the luncheon.
The luncheon honors not only the local media, but also the memory of Stephen Philbin who lost his battle with leukemia in 1982. A long-time member of the Dallas Bar Association and a partner with Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely, at the time of his death, Mr. Philbin was a leading authority on media law in Texas. In honor of Mr. Philbin, his family, acting through the Dallas Bar Foundation, funds the awards each year.
The keynote speaker at this year’s luncheon is David McCraw, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times. Mr. McCraw has spent the last 15 years at The Times, where he serves as the newspaper’s top newsroom lawyer. He has been the lawyer behind virtually every major investigative story The Times has done in recent years, including its Pulitzer Prize-winning stories on workers’ deaths at a Texas foundry, the lethal aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at a New Orleans hospital, and the secret fortunes of China's political elite.
Mr. McCraw is among the nation’s most prolific litigators of freedom-of-information cases. He has litigated more than 40 FOIA suits, winning the disclosure of secret documents on topics ranging from drone strikes in Yemen and terrorist investigations in the U.S. to the government’s burgeoning surveillance program. Mr. McCraw also heads up The Times’s crisis management team coordinating the paper’s response when journalists are kidnapped or detained overseas.
Mr. McCraw is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Cornell University, and Albany Law School. He is an adjunct professor at the NYU Law School. In 2010, the New York City Bar awarded Mr. McCraw its Cyrus Vance Award for his international pro bono work on behalf of free expression. As a pro bono attorney, he has worked with lawyers and journalists in Bahrain, Montenegro, Yemen, and Kuwait and various countries in South America and Eastern Europe.
DBA members may reserve seats now for the luncheon. To receive the early bird rate of $45 per ticket or $450 per table of 10, register by September 22. After September 22, tickets increase to $50; and tables of 10 can be purchased for $500. No walk-ins will be accepted. Purchase your ticket by logging on to www.dallasbar.org or by contacting Judi Smalling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica D. Smith is the DBA’s Communications/Media Director. She can be reached at email@example.com.