Ishmael Jaffree, civil rights activist and pro bono attorney with Legal Services Alabama (LSA), is a recipient of the 2021 Kutak-Dodds Prize from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).
According to NLADA, the Kutak-Dodds Prize is awarded to “civil legal aid attorneys, public defenders, assigned counsel, or public interest lawyers who, through the practice of law, are significantly contributing to the enhancement of human dignity and quality of life of those individuals who are unable to afford legal representation.”
In 2020 Jaffree successfully managed a pilot program at LSA that secured qualified clients with rental relief and placed legal services personnel within the court so judges could directly refer unrepresented clients to LSA.
Despite being retired, he still provided representation to over 100 clients facing eviction during the pandemic.
Jaffree’s career exemplifies a lifelong dedication to civil rights through the work of law. Shortly after passing the bar Jaffree joined LSA to manage the Mobile office. He’s since practiced poverty law for more than 45 years.
Jaffree is most well-remembered for his 1985 landmark Supreme Court case Wallace v Jaffree. LSA attorneys Ronnie Williams and Jaffree successfully argued that prayer in Alabama public schools was unconstitutional.
Both attorneys were featured in the Alabama Bicentennial Commission’s traveling exhibit “Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces That Changed a Nation.”
The Kutak-Dodds Prize includes an award of $10,000. Jaffree will be officially recognized at NLADA’s 2021 Exemplar Award Virtual Gala on June 9th.