Maine Justice Foundation Honors Three Attorneys For Outstanding Public Service

6 July 2021 , Posted in: Uncategorized

Hallowell, ME – Three outstanding Maine lawyers who are champions of civil legal aid have been recognized by the Board of the Maine Justice Foundation with its 2021 awards:  Charles F. Dingman of Kozak & Gayer, Jennifer Bailey of Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, and Sara A. Murphy of Pierce Atwood.

Board President H. Lowell Brown, Esq. said: “We are proud to recognize these attorneys for undertaking public service and practicing law in a way that fulfills the mission of the Foundation, which is to make sure that all Maine people have access to our system of justice. These awards shine a light on critical advocacy that too often goes unheralded.”

“The work of our awardees to ensure that all Mainers can access the courts and legal representation is indeed extraordinary,” Executive Director Michelle G. Draeger said. “We hope that this recognition rewards their efforts in some small way and inspires members of the Maine Bar to emulate them.”


Howard H. Dana, Jr. Award to Charles F. Dingman, Esq. of Kozak & Gayer, P.A.

The Foundation has presented this award annually since 1984 to a Maine lawyer to recognize contributions that enhance access to civil legal assistance for poor and vulnerable Mainers. The award honors Justice Howard H. Dana, Jr., a Foundation leader and dedicated advocate for equal justice.

Charles F. Dingman’s tireless pursuit of increased funding for legal aid has resulted in countless Maine people receiving access to legal representation when they otherwise would not have received it. He is a champion for the critical role of systemic advocacy in increasing access to justice. He has served on the board of Maine Equal Justice for 17 years, as a leader in the Justice Action Group for 11 years, and as a volunteer for the Campaign for Justice since 2007, including as the 2012 Campaign Chair. Mr. Dingman’s steadfast pursuit of access to justice for all spans two decades and reflects many hundreds of hours devoted to this cause.  Mr. Dingman embodies the spirit and essence of the Dana Award.


Thomas P. Downing, Jr. Award to Jennifer Bailey, Esq. of Immigration Legal Advocacy Project.

A graduate of Cheverus High School, Brown University, and Georgetown Law, Thomas P. Downing, Jr. was one of the first attorneys hired by Pine Tree Legal Assistance in the late 1960s. Tom then worked at the Maine Legislature, where he met and married his co-worker Diana Scully. Their son James was born in 1984. In the summer of 1985, Tom was diagnosed with brain cancer, and he died that November. Tom’s family created the Downing Fund and Award to recognize legal aid staff dedicated to access to civil justice for vulnerable Mainers.

In memory of Tom, the Foundation recognizes Jennifer Bailey as this year’s Downing Award recipient. Ms. Bailey has worked in legal aid, and particularly for immigrants seeking asylum, for several decades and at ILAP for the last 12 years. Moreover, she has led ILAP’s asylum program during an extremely challenging period. She previously worked for the University of Maine School of Law’s Refugee & Human Rights Clinic, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Human Rights Watch, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Costa Rica, and South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project. Jennifer’s long career as a legal aid attorney makes her a most deserving recipient of the Downing Award.


New Lawyer Award to Sara A. Murphy, Esq. of Pierce Atwood, LLP.

Since 2011, the Foundation has recognized outstanding lawyers, licensed to practice in Maine for fewer than ten years, who exemplify the ideals of increasing access to justice and make outstanding contributions to the legal profession and public good through pro bono service.

Sara A. Murphy is a member of the Maine Civil Legal Services Fund Commission and undertakes extensive pro bono work on behalf of guardians ad litem in child protection matters. She also contributed countless hours of pro bono work as lead counsel in a complaint on behalf of a Maine immigrant detainee to block his transfer to another location as part of a routine practice by ICE to detain immigrants in locations with a high risk of Covid-19 infection. Ms. Murphy is an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Pierce Atwood, focusing on complex commercial litigation and class action defense. Sara is worthy recipient of the New Lawyer Award, already having made significant contributions to the Foundation’s mission of ensuring access to justice for all people in Maine.

The Maine Justice Foundation, founded in 1983 as the Maine Bar Foundation, is the state’s leading funder of civil legal aid for poor and vulnerable Mainers.

FMI: Contact Michelle G. Draeger, Executive Director: 620-1351,