The Brian M. Sax Prize for Excellence in Clinical Advocacy was established in memory of the 1969 Law Building alumnus by his family, colleagues, and friends following his death in 1997. It honors Sax’s enthusiasm for the practice of law and his dedication to teaching. The Sax Prize, initially a $500 award, was increased to $1000 in 2006. It is given each spring semester to a graduating student who, during his or her law school career, has displayed excellence in advocacy and professional judgment on behalf of clients in a Berkeley Law in-house or faculty-sponsored clinic. The first prize was given in 1998, and the names of each year’s recipients are inscribed on a plaque located in the lobby of Simon Hall and posted here.
Faculty and students submit nominations to a four-person committee that consists of Ronald G. Aronovsky ’80, one of Sax’s former law partners, along with clinical and non-clinical faculty members selected by the dean. In reaching its decision, the Brian M. Sax Prize Committee considers the applicants’ oral and written advocacy skills, their demonstrated commitment to the zealous representation of their clients, and their reflections on the lawyer’s role within the profession and society.
Sarah Abelow ’22 is the winner of the 2021 Brian M. Sax Prize for Excellence in Clinical Advocacy for her outstanding work in the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the East Bay Community Law Center’s Health and Welfare Clinic. At EBCLC, Sarah created internal systems to take on more cases advocating for income for women of color, particularly those who can’t work outside the home due to caring for a child with disabilities. Sarah also provided feedback to the State’s proposed changes to child In Home Supportive Services forms. At the International Human Rights Law Clinic, she contributed to a report on government persecution of human rights activists in the Gulf region, “Who Will Be Left to Defend Human Rights?” Sarah also served as a student board member on EBCLC’s Board of Directors.
Kaylee Johnson ’22 is the winner of the Sax Prize Honorable Mention for her excellent work in the Death Penalty Clinic. Kaylee worked all year on the high-profile, complex case of an innocent client on Alabama’s death row whom the clinic has represented for almost two decades. She drafted and executed investigation plans, developed media and communication agendas, interviewed witnesses in Alabama as well as the client, led team strategy discussions, and served as the team’s primary liaison with the journalists creating a serialized podcast. At every step of the way, she approached the work with passion and purpose.