Federal Bar Association, San Diego Chapter Awards

The Federal Bar Association, San Diego Chapter (FBA) proudly presents the following awards at its Annual Conference: (1) the Outstanding Trial Attorney of the Year Award; (2) the Distinguished Service Award; and (3) the Rising Attorney Award.  See below for award criteria and nomination requirements.

Outstanding Trial Attorney of the Year Award

Award Criteria:

The Outstanding Trial Attorney of the Year Award recognizes an attorney, in any practice area, public or private, who has demonstrated outstanding advocacy, while maintaining professionalism and civility, in a bench or jury trial during the current or prior calendar year before the Southern District of California’s U.S. District Court or U.S. Bankruptcy Court. This award recognizes advocacy—not the verdict or judgment. Eligibility for this award may be supplemented by the attorney’s legal expertise and contributions to the legal profession and/or the justice system, over the course of her/his career. The recipient must be a member of the FBA who is not currently serving on its Board of Directors. Although anticipated as an annual award, the Outstanding Trial Attorney of the Year Award will not be issued if a suitable recipient is not nominated.

Nomination Requirements:

The nominator must provide a cover page listing her/his name, address, phone number, and email address. The nomination must include the following information:

  • The nominee’s name, address, phone number, and email address;

  • The case name, number, and date of the qualifying bench or jury trial before the Southern District of California’s U.S. District Court or U.S. Bankruptcy Court;

  • A description of the nature of the action and the nominee’s outstanding advocacy, professionalism, and civility during the qualifying bench or jury trial (no more than 700 words);

  • The nominee’s legal expertise and contributions to the legal profession and/or the justice system, over the course of her/his career (optional) (no more than 300 words);

  • The nominee’s resume or biography (optional); and

  • The nominee must be a member of the FBA who is not currently serving on its Board of Directors. 

Distinguished Service Award

© 2021 Federal Bar Association, San Diego Chapter

Award Criteria:

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes distinguished service by an attorney, law firm, or organization to the San Diego and/or Imperial County communities that consists of any of the following: service to the legal profession; service to the local community; service to education; service to equality, diversity, or inclusion; and/or service advancing access to justice. Significant weight will be given to service to the FBA as well as volunteer programs offered by the Southern District of California’s U.S. District Court and/or U.S. Bankruptcy Court and judiciary (e.g., the U.S. District Court’s Pro Bono Program, Open Doors to the Court, Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE), and mock trial programs). An individual recipient must be a member of the FBA who is not currently serving on its Board of Directors.

Nomination Requirements:

The nominator must provide a cover page listing her/his name, address, phone number, and email address. The nomination must include the following information:

  • The nominee’s name, address, phone number, and email address;

  • A description of the nominee’s service to the legal profession; service to the local community; service to education; service to equality, diversity, or inclusion; and/or service advancing access to justice (no more than 500 words);

  • A description of the nominee’s service to the FBA and/or volunteer programs offered by the Southern District of California’s U.S. District Court and/or U.S. Bankruptcy Court and judiciary (optional) (no more than 500 words);

  • If nominating an individual, the nominee’s resume or biography (optional); and

  • If nominating an individual, the nominee must be a member of the FBA who is not currently serving on its Board of Directors. 

Rising Attorney Award

Award Criteria:

The Rising Attorney Award recognizes an outstanding attorney, in any practice area, public or private, who has been admitted to the bar for no more than 7 years at the time of nomination. The recipient has demonstrated a commitment to the legal profession through excellent advocacy and service to the legal profession, education, mentoring, and/or the community. The recipient must have served as counsel of record in at least one case before the Southern District of California’s U.S. District Court or U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The recipient must be a member of the FBA who is not currently serving on its Board of Directors.

Nomination Requirements:

The nominator must provide a cover page listing her/his name, address, phone number, and email address. The nomination must include the following information:

  • The nominee’s name, address, phone number, and email address;

  • The nominee’s bar number and bar admission date;

  • A description of the nominee’s commitment to the legal profession through excellent advocacy and service to the legal profession, education, mentoring, and/or the community (no more than 750 words);

  • The case name and number of at least one case in which the nominee is counsel of record before the Southern District of California’s U.S. District Court and/or U.S. Bankruptcy Court;

  • The nominee’s resume or biography (optional); and

  • The nominee must be a member of the FBA who is not currently serving on its Board of Directors. 

Peter Mazza was a past president of the San Diego Chapter. During his short but stellar career, Peter had already become a San Diego legal legend and a respected leader in the broader community. He began his legal career clerking for U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff. He then joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he quickly made a name for himself as a tenacious and effective prosecutor, pursuing Mexican drug cartels and handling some of the most significant fraud cases in the office at that time. Peter joined the San Diego office of Jones Day and was soon elevated to partner, handling high stakes business and pro bono cases. In early 2019 United States Attorney Bob Brewer asked Peter to return to the U.S. Attorney’s Office as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, the second-in-command position in the office. Pete enthusiastically returned to public service and began the challenging work of supervising the office’s 400+ employees and overseeing its complex caseload. Despite receiving his shocking diagnosis shortly after becoming First Assistant, Peter was an inspiring leader and effective manager throughout his treatment. Peter’s many accomplishments were the direct product of his unparalleled work ethic, leadership, judgment, humility, and kindness.

Peter J. Mazza (1978 - 2020)

In 2020,  Peter sadly passed away at the age of 42. The Peter J. Mazza Outstanding Federal Lawyer Award is awarded as a memorial by the Federal Bar Association and recognizes exemplary federal lawyers who have dedicated a significant portion of their career to federal service with high standards of professional achievement and outstanding performance. A charitable contribution will be made in the name of the award's recipient, which reflects the essence of Pete and his legacy.  Donations are being accepted to the FBA’s Peter J. Mazza Memorial Fund. Read the full tribute written by past president, Katherine L. Parker here

Past Recipients of Federal Bar Association Awards

Hon. Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award: Alessandra Serano and Lawrence Baca.

Elaine R. “Boots” Fisher Award: Rebecca Kanter, Rupa Singh, and Michelle Pettit.

The Robyn J. Spalter Outstanding Achievement Award: Hon. Allison Goddard,  Katherine Parker,

and Peter Mazza.


Younger Federal Lawyer Awards: Peter Mazza, Shireen Matthews, Caroline Han, David Finn,

Chase Skolnick, Helen Hong, Andrew Haden, Rebecca Church, and Dylan Aste.