August 03, 2020
Retired partner Steven A. Reiss has received the American Bar Association’s 2020 John H. Pickering Achievement Award in recognition of his legal work, dedication to pro bono service and the community, and significant contributions to the furtherance of access to justice for all. He was honored on July 29 at a virtual award presentation during the ABA’s virtual annual meeting.
Mr. Reiss previously served as co-chair of Weil’s Pro Bono Committee. He has had a long and distinguished career litigating significant civil and criminal cases for corporations, individuals and numerous public interest groups, and has received numerous accolades both for his litigation skills and his dedication to pro bono work.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Reiss thanked the Firm, his mentors, including former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and Weil senior partner Ira M. Millstein, and the Weil Pro Bono team for their support. He went on to focus on the social and legal challenges of the current moment as compared to pivotal moments in U.S. history, such as court decisions allowing slavery, segregation, the imprisonment of Japanese-American citizens, and discrimination against gay people:
“It is not the case now, as it was not the case then, that there are two sides to these issues. There is a right side and a wrong side. Discrimination is not debatable. It is wrong to discriminate. Depriving people of the right to vote is not debatable. It is wrong. Using the justice system for political means is not debatable. It is wrong. And interfering with and maligning the integrity of our government is not debatable. It is wrong…”
Mr. Reiss urged the bar, and senior lawyers in particular, “to make sure that each of those issues turns out right today, not wrong.”
During his time at Weil, Mr. Reiss was an internationally recognized litigator known for his expertise in complex civil, criminal and international matters, especially those with multinational or parallel civil and criminal components. In recent years, he represented companies in many of the major international antitrust investigations and litigations, including those involving airlines, auction houses, auto parts, carbon fiber, cargo, chemicals, EPDM rubber, freight forwarders, graphite electrodes, helicopter services, lysine, military insignia, milk, MSG, orthopedic implants, and vitamins industries. He also had extensive experience representing companies and individuals in a variety of other high-stakes and high-profile matters – including major constitutional litigation – at trial and on appeal.
Mr. Reiss has served on the boards of the Brennan Center, the Innocence Project, Oxfam America, Volunteers of Legal Services, and Modern States, an organization dedicated to making college education more affordable. He currently serves as General Counsel to the Brennan Center. He has litigated significant cases for numerous civil rights organizations, including the Brennan Center, the Innocence Project, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the ACLU and the Vance Center.
He is currently a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School teaching an advanced seminar on “U.S. Civil and Criminal Enforcement of International Cartels.” He has published numerous books and articles and co-authored Modern Federal Jury Instructions, a standard reference work on jury instructions and practice in the federal courts. He was the Reporter for Second Circuit Judicial Conference Committee on Juries.
The John H. Pickering Achievement Award was established by the ABA Senior Lawyers Division in 2007 in recognition of John H. Pickering's brilliant legal work, advocacy of pro bono service, dedication to the cause of equal justice for all, and promotion of the highest standards of ethics and professionalism in the law.