Neil Sugarman was recently honored by the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) as its 2015 recipient of the Robert Morris Trial Lawyer Award.

This award recognizes unusual courage and uncommon courtesy in civil litigation and is named for Robert Morris who was the second black man in the U.S. to be sworn into a bar, the first to practice actively in Massachusetts, and the first African-American to try and win a civil case in the Commonwealth.

Morris’ remarkable legal career included a suit he brought against the City of Boston attempting to force integration of the Boston Elementary Schools in 1847. He and Charles Sumner briefed the case before the Supreme Judicial Court, and, after the SJC decided against his position, he convinced the legislature to prohibit legal segregation in Massachusetts schools in 1855. Morris was one of the Commonwealth’s leading abolitionists, but his first love was the law, and he fashioned a highly successful legal career as a tough, but unflinchingly courteous, advocate.

According to Christopher Duggan, past president of the Massachusetts Chapter of ABOTA, the award is given to someone who has spent his career consistently raising the bar on legal excellence and civility in practice. “This is a long overdue award for Neil as he has, throughout his long and noteworthy career, demonstrated courtroom excellence, unfailing civility and promotion of the trial bar,” he continued, I have known Neil for many years and I have never once heard him raise his voice. He is a true professional in every sense of the word and I am pleased to be able to honor him in memory of another incredible legal advocate in Massachusetts.”

Neil Sugarman received the Robert Morris Trial Lawyer Award at ABOTA’s Constitution Day Dinner on September 17th at the Union Club in Boston.