Anna Dodson, partner at Goodwin Debt Finance and founder of Goodwin’s Neighborhood Business Initiative (NBI), received the 2022 National Public Service Award from the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. The annual honor recognizes the significant pro bono legal contributions of law firms, corporate law departments, and individual business attorneys who demonstrate a long-standing commitment to providing legal services to individuals and entities who could not otherwise afford it.
Pro Bono committee chair Daniela Cimo presented the award to Ms. Dodson at the section’s spring meeting on March 31. Ms. Cimo praised Ms. Dodson as a “leader, educator and innovator” and “pioneer in business pros. bono legal assistance,” who has “spent more than 20 years advocating for voiceless small business owners and creating wealth in underserved communities.”
Throughout her career at 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 essential to vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, including barbers and hairdressers, bakers, chocolate makers and other food businesses, neighborhood restaurants and grocery stores, neighborhood daycare centers and many others working in communities across the country.
“I led Goodwin’s Pro Bono initiative for more than 20 years, and Anna Dodson’s tireless and tireless efforts to grow NBI are impressive,” said Carolyn Rosenthal, director of Goodwin Pro Bono. “Despite a very busy practice and a busy family life with three children, Anna has generously devoted an enormous amount of time and creativity to growing NBI to allow small business owners to focus on growing their business with the confidence that they do so responsibly and with sound professional advice.
A company-wide initiative founded by Ms. Dodson in 2001, NBI promotes equity and supports wealth creation in communities facing 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 these communities or whose companies have a positive impact on them. Since NBI’s early days in the field, the work of Ms. Dodson and more than 1,000 Goodwin lawyers and professionals has led to pro bono legal support for thousands of low-income individual entrepreneurs and small business owners across the United States.
Ms. Dodson has previously received the Adams Pro Bono Publico Award – awarded by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts – for providing pro bono legal services to poor and disadvantaged citizens of Massachusetts. She is also the recipient of Goodwin’s Robert B. Fraser Pro Bono Award, given annually by Goodwin to attorneys who positively impact the community through their pro bono efforts and help establish or expand pro bono programs within 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 businesses applying for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, and in 2021, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) awarded the NBI its Beacon of Justice Award.