Longtime law professor known for research honored with ABA Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award

Susan Fortney, a law professor and recognized national expert on ethics, is the 2024 recipient of the Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award, one of the American Bar Association’s top ethics honors. 

The award recognizes an individual whose contributions reflect the highest level of dedication to legal professionalism.

Fortney is the Stephen R. Alton University Professor and director of the Program for the Advancement of Legal Ethics at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth. 

She is internationally renowned for her research, scholarship and teaching on legal ethics and the regulation of lawyers. She has also earned the reputation as an outstanding, dedicated and creative public servant, whose work with scholars, lawyers, regulators, courts and bar organizations demonstrates a commitment to improving lawyer ethics, conduct and regulation.

The award is named in honor of Michael Franck, the late director of the State Bar of Michigan and long-time champion of improvements in lawyer regulation in the public interest.

The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR) Coordinating Council, which consists of the chairs of the committees and commissions that are housed within CPR, made the selection. 

In support of its choice, the council pointed to Fortney as a “pioneering empiricist in the legal ethics field” whose work has “had a profound impact on the legal profession both nationally and internationally.”

“Professor Fortney’s work regarding ethical infrastructure and culture of lawyer organizations has been foundational in both the legal academy and across the legal profession,” the council said. “She has conducted research with and for regulators and lawyer organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Her studies have helped regulators and lawyers better understand and improve lawyer regulation and conduct.”

Fortney has taught legal ethics at Texas Tech, Boston, St. Johns, Hofstra and Texas A&M universities and abroad in Slovenia, Poland and Australia. 

She is credited by many as being one of the first to introduce the Proactive, Management-Based Regulation (PMBR) concept to lawyer regulation entities and has been an integral resource to multiple U.S jurisdictions in development of their individual PMBR programs.

The award will be presented May 30 during the 2024 ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility in Denver, Colorado.

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