Awards and Recognition
The Inaugural Judge Lisa P. Thornton Award
The NJSBA is pleased to announce this new award commemorating the life and professional accomplishments of the late Monmouth County Assignment Judge Lisa P. Thornton. Recipients of this award should, in particular, reflect Judge Thornton’s legacy as a beloved mentor who inspired others to respect and pursue careers in the law.
Other qualities nominees should exhibit include:
• Having overcome barriers to achieve career success;
• Showing compassion and fairness in their practice;
• Giving back to their communities through mentorship and exhibited leadership skills through membership in professional and community groups;
• Having a reputation for integrity and professionalism.
• Having a demonstrated commitment to advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession.
To make a nomination, submit a CV or resume of the nominees as well as a narrative of how they reflect Judge Thornton’s legacy as outlined above to Paula Saha at [email protected] by March 5. Recipients will be chosen by a committee comprised of NJSBA trustees and Diversity Committee members. Please note that in line with guidance from the Administrative Office of the Courts, sitting state judges are not eligible for this award.
Mel Narol Award
Commemorating Mel Narol’s commitment to the work of and enthusiastic support of the Task Force on Diversity, this NJSBA Diversity Committee award is presented to NJSBA members or other entities that have spearheaded inclusion and made strides for women and minority lawyers.
The award is named for late NJSBA Officer and Trustee Mel Narol and commemorates his support and commitment as a charter member of the Task Force on Diversity, a predecessor to the Diversity Committee. Narol worked tirelessly to weave diversity initiatives into the fabric of the NJSBA and the Award celebrates that work, as well as Narol’s collegiality and unwavering kindness.
To submit a nomination for the 2024 Award, please submit the candidate’s CV, resume or bio, along with a written statement of support to Paula Saha at [email protected] by March 5.
Narol was a charter member of the task force and worked tirelessly on the project to make the diversity effort within the NJSBA a permanent order of business. Through his leadership, what began as a small task force has grown into a permanent standing committee. The members of the Task Force on Diversity turned to Narol for his insight into the NJSBA as an organization, and sought his advice on a variety of philosophical and logistical issues. His enthusiasm and impetus led to the first Specialty Bar Summit. It was what he characterized as, “a necessary show of support” for diversity initiatives. Narol felt strongly that the NJSBA should be at the forefront of inclusion, strategically, for the sake of the development of membership, and because it was the right and most natural thing to do for today and the future. Naming this award in his honor celebrates Narol’s work on the Task Force on Diversity, his collegiality and his unwavering kindness.
The recommended award recipient is chosen at a meeting of the Diversity Committee, and must be approved by the NJSBA Board of Trustees. The chairs of the Diversity Committee have the authority to decide the voting process (open/closed ballot), and may, at their discretion, recommend the award be given to more than one recipient.
Please note, as of 2017, sitting state judges are not eligible for this award per the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The past recipients are:
1999 – Cynthia M. Jacob and Karol Corbin Walker
2000 – Hon. Marie Garibaldi
2001 – Raymond M. Brown
2002 – Stanley Van Ness
2003 – Hon. James Coleman and, posthumously, Mel Narol
2004 – Rutgers Law School Minority Students Program
2005 – Hon. Joseph Rodriguez
2006 – Zulima V. Farber
2007 –Ronald K. Chen
2008 – Raymond Brown
2009 – Hon. Anne E. Thompson
2010 – Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey, Inc.
2011 – Paulette Brown and Hon. Shirley Tolentino
2012 – Karol Corbin Walker
2013 – Hon. Esther Salas
2014 – Hon. Alberto Rivas
2015 – Saul A. Wolfe
2016 – Julien X. Neals and Evan Wolfson
2017 – Miles S. Winder III
2018 – Thomas H. Prol
2019 – Assemblywoman Annette Quijano
2020 – Lora Fong
2021 – Evelyn Padin
2022 – Garden State Bar Association
2023 – Carolyn V. Chang
Justice Thurgood Marshall Award
The Diversity Committee presents this award annually to outstanding diverse jurists who have demonstrated, through personal and professional achievement, a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. The awards are presented in November at the NJSBA Diverse Judges Reception.