The 14th annual William L. Norton, Jr. Judicial Excellence Award, created by Thomson Reuters and the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), was presented to Hon. Harlin D. “Cooter” Hale, United States Bankruptcy Judge for Northern District of Texas, during the ABI Luncheon at the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (NCBJ) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 1, 2019. Thomson Reuters presented a commemorative plaque to Judge Hale and donated $5,000 to the ABI Endowment for Education in his name.

Judge Hale’s outstanding qualities as a judge and his commitment to service were recognized in remarks by his colleagues from the Northern District of Texas, Judge Stacey Jernigan and Chief Judge Barbara Houser. Judge Hale has served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge since 2002. He has issued over 160 opinions during his time on the bench and was cited favorably by the U.S. Supreme Court in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., 137 S.Ct. 973 (2017).

Judge Hale has been active in many professional organizations, including serving as chair of the bankruptcy sections of both the Texas Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association. His commitment to legal education has included serving on the planning committee for “Starting Out Right,” presented by the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Texas Bankruptcy Section, as well as writing articles and delivering numerous speeches. Judge Hale earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at Louisiana State University, before clerking for the Hon. James L. Dennis, Associate Justice, Louisiana Supreme Court (who was later appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit).

The William L. Norton, Jr. Judicial Excellence Award, named for former bankruptcy judge and longtime West author William L. Norton, Jr., honors a bankruptcy judge whose career has embodied the same dedication to the insolvency community as did that of the award’s namesake. A committee of six outstanding bankruptcy attorneys selects the winner from a pool of eligible judges nominated by their fellow judges and attorneys based on the nominee’s record of service, achievements and leadership throughout their career.

This post was written by Kathryn Copeland, principal attorney editor at Thomson Reuters.