Awards and Rankings April 15, 2022

Anna Dodson Receives the American Bar Association Business Law Section’s 2022 National Public Service Award

Goodwin Debt Finance partner and founder of Goodwin’s Neighborhood Business Initiative (NBI) Anna Dodson has received the 2022 National Public Service Award from the American Bar Association Business Law Section. The annual honor recognizes the significant pro bono legal contributions of law firms, corporate law departments and individual business lawyers that demonstrate a longstanding commitment to providing legal services to individuals and entities that could not otherwise afford them.

Pro Bono Committee Chair Daniela Cimo presented the award to Ms. Dodson during the Section’s Spring Meeting on March 31. Ms. Cimo praised Ms. Dodson as a “leader, educator and innovator,” and “pioneer when it comes to business-based pro bono legal assistance,” who has “spent over 20 years advocating on behalf of small business owners without a voice and building wealth in underserved communities.”

Throughout her career with Goodwin, Ms. Dodson has provided a wide range of business-related pro bono legal services to hundreds of small business clients. This number represents a variety of small businesses that are essential for vibrant, diverse neighborhoods, including barbers and hairdressers, bakers, chocolatiers and other food companies, neighborhood restaurants and groceries, neighborhood childcare providers and many others working in communities across the country.

“I have led Goodwin’s Pro Bono Initiative for over 20 years, and Anna Dodson’s unwavering and tireless efforts to grow NBI are awe-inspiring,” said Goodwin Pro Bono Director Carolyn Rosenthal. “Despite having a very busy practice and a busy family life with three children, Anna has unselfishly dedicated an enormous amount of time and creativity in growing NBI to enable small business owners to focus on growing their businesses with the confidence that they are doing so responsibly and with sound professional guidance.”

A firmwide initiative founded by Ms. Dodson in 2001, NBI promotes equity and supports wealth creation in communities that face discrimination based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender and/or LGBTQ+ status by providing pro bono legal services to entrepreneurs and small business owners who are members of, or whose businesses positively impact, such communities. Since NBI’s grassroots beginnings, the work of Ms. Dodson and more than 1,000 Goodwin lawyers and professionals have led to the pro bono legal support to thousands of individual low-income entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the United States.

Ms. Dodson has previously received the Adams Pro Bono Publico Award – given by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court – for providing volunteer legal services to poor and disadvantaged citizens in Massachusetts. She is also a recipient of Goodwin’s Robert B. Fraser Pro Bono Award, given annually by Goodwin to lawyers who positively impact the community through their pro bono efforts, and help establish or expand pro bono programs at the firm. In 2020, Ms. Dodson and the Goodwin team were honored by Lawyers for Civil Rights at their annual meeting for providing pro bono services to small business applying for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, and in 2021 the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) recognized NBI with its Beacon of Justice Award.