Legal Aid DC Celebrates 34th Servant of Justice Awards Dinner

Our 34th annual Servant of Justice Awards dinner honored Judge David Tatel and Debo Adegbile.

Legal Aid DC’s 34th annual Servant of Justice Awards dinner brought together nearly 600 guests to celebrate the 2024 honorees and raised a record-breaking $2 million. 

The Servant of Justice Awards dinner is Legal Aid DC’s marquee event each year that brings the legal community together to honor distinguished leaders who have made an immense difference in the field of law and in the District. 

The 2024 Servant of Justice Awards honored Judge David S. Tatel and attorney Debo P. Adegbile, who share a commitment to justice that has protected civil rights in the U.S. Legal Aid DC also recognized Nancy Anderson with the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence for her extensive pro bono work, as well as former client and Partnership Award recipient Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez.

Vikram Swaruup on stage
“At Legal Aid, we are going to keep making sure that people don’t have to face the legal system alone.”
Executive Director Vikram Swaruup


Servant of Justice Honoree Judge David S. Tatel

Judge David Tatel and John Relman with the Servant of Justice Award

Judge Tatel, who rejoined Hogan Lovells as Senior Counsel this year, is a living legend of the law. His career spans nearly six decades in public interest law, government service, private practice, and almost 30 years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, nearly all in staunch defense of civil liberties. 

He served as first Executive Director of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which went on to recently celebrate a landmark 50 years of providing pro bono civil legal counsel, after which he became Director of the national Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In the early 1970s, he helped found the Legal Services Corporation, which promotes equal access to justice by providing grants for civil legal defense for low-income Americans. 

Judge Tatel also led the Office for Civil Rights under President Jimmy Carter, revitalizing that office at a critical time in American civil rights history. He later founded the Education practice at then-Hogan & Hartson, advancing desegregation in school districts in suburban St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and other cities throughout the country. In 1994, he was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the DC Circuit to succeed former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

As a DC Circuit judge, he decided dozens of landmark cases, earning a reputation as one of the most brilliant and fair legal minds in the judiciary. He accomplished most of this after losing his eyesight at age 30. His memoir, “Vision: A Memoir of Blindness and Justice,” will be published by Little, Brown on June 11, 2024.

Tribute to Judge Tatel

Judge Tatel's Remarks


Servant of Justice Honoree Debo P. Adegbile

Debo Adegbile and Vikram Swaruup

Mr. Adegbile is a Partner at WilmerHale and Chair of the Anti-Discrimination practice. He previously worked at the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund from 2001 to 2014, including as Director of Litigation from 2007 to 2014 and Acting President & Director-Counsel from 2012 to 2013. He has argued several important civil rights cases at the Supreme Court and beyond – including successfully defending the Voting Rights Act before Judge Tatel on the DC Circuit, in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder

Mr. Adegbile also served as senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 2013-2014, advising on Supreme Court jurisprudence and the defense of civil rights, especially voting rights. In 2016, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, on which he served for six years. More recently, he led a WilmerHale team in a successful challenge to Georgia’s congressional and legislative maps. Among his many roles at WilmerHale, Mr. Adegbile conducts civil rights and equity audits for clients, imparting the wisdom and practice from his many years of upholding American civil liberties.

Tribute to Debo Adegbile

Debo Adegbile's Remarks


Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence Honoree Nancy Anderson

Nancy Anderson with her Klepper Prize award

Nancy Anderson, Senior Counsel at Holland & Knight, has been among Legal Aid's most prolific pro bono attorneys over the past several years and has taken the lead on cases in one of our most complex practice areas: helping clients appeal denials of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These critical benefits provide financial support to adults unable to work due to disability and children with physical and/or mental health conditions. In all of her cases, Ms. Anderson has approached complex cases with a sharp understanding of the law and deep empathy for her clients.


Partnership Award Honoree Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez

Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez accepts an award from Vikram Swaruup

The Partnership Award recognizes extraordinary individuals or organizations who have helped advance Legal Aid DC’s mission of making justice real in the District. Past recipients have included Monica Jackson, President of the Terrace Manor Tenants Association, and the AFL-CIO's Claimant Advocacy Program. 

Legal Aid DC supported Ms. Alvarez Velasquez, who is from Guatemala, through the Immigrants' Rights Legal Services Project to clarify her family's immigration status. Ms. Alvarez Velasquez, who runs a tamale stand with her husband in Mt. Pleasant, stepped up for her community last year to testify in favor of decriminalizing street vending.

Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez's Story

Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez's Remarks

Missed the Event?

We celebrated the evening in style with our cutting-edge selfie booth experience at the Servant of Justice Awards Dinner from DigiBooths, a DigiGroup Entertainment company.


Thank You to Our 2024 Co-Chairs

Chioma Achebe
The Carlyle Group


Chinh Le
University of Virginia School of Law


Beth Neitzel
Foley Hoag

Vanita Gupta
Former Associate Attorney General


Lauren Moore


David Ogden

Josh Hsu
Jenner & Block


Micah Myers
Cozen O'Connor


Cate Stetson
Hogan Lovells


Thank You to Our 2024 Sponsors

Trailblazer of Justice

Kirkland & Ellis



Champion of Justice

Latham & Watkins LLP



Protector of Justice

Covington & Burling LLP

Sidley Austin LLP


Leader of Justice

Hogan Lovells



Defender of Justice


Alston & Bird LLP

Arnold & Porter

Bailey Glasser

Mayer Brown

Paul Weiss


Guardian of Justice

Baker Botts, L.L.P.


Gilbert LLP

Advocate of Justice

ArentFox Schiff

Blank Rome

Crowell & Moring LLP


Jenner & Block

Jones Day

King & Spalding

Munger, Tolles & Olson


Paul Hastings LLP

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

The Steptoe Foundation

Venable LLP


Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Williams & Connolly

Steward of Justice

Allen & Overy LLP


Cleary Gottlieb


Cozen O'Connor

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

DLA Piper


Foley Hoag LLP

Fried Frank

Holland & Knight

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP

Katten Munchin Rosenman LLP

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP


Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morrison Foerster LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Ropes & Gray LLP

Vinson & Elkins

Wiley Rein LLP

Wilkinson Stekloff

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP

Corporate Honor Roll


Cushman & Wakefield

DiamondRock Hospitality Company

Ernst & Young LLP (EY)


Host Hotels & Resort

Marriott International