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July 11, 2017

Gilbertson Receives Distinguished Service Award from State Bar Association

Bismark, ND - July 11, 2017 - The GA Group law firm is pleased to announce that the State Bar Association of ND has selected Joel Gilbertson to receive the most prestigious honor it bestows:  the Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award honors a member of the legal profession who has provided outstanding service to the state and legal community over an extended career. It is not granted every year, and includes the likes of prominent state and federal judges, lawyers, and law professors. The Distinguished Service Award plaque, which hangs outside the courtroom of the ND Supreme Court, is intended to permanently honor recipients and remind the public of their dedication and work.


Pictured, from left, with son David, wife Jan, grandson William, daughter Lisa, and grandson Oliver.


Joel’s career has included broad career to the state and legal profession. He served as executive director of the bar association from 1978-1981. Under his leadership, the organization developed critical programs and received national recognition:

• Won the ABA Harrison Tweed Award for indigent defense projects;
• Won an ABA merit award for the Law Day/free consultations program;
• Successfully drafted and lobbied for passage of the Judicial Nominating Committee Legislation, which is the law used today for the governor to appoint judges;
• Created the Lawyer Referral Service;
• Secured Supreme Court approval of the Continuing Legal Education Commission; and
• Created the Distinguished Service Award, which was first presented to U.S. District Judge Ronald N. Davies.

Joel was a co-founder and board member of the ND Bar Foundation and served as its chairman, and he was instrumental in starting the interest on lawyer trust account program, which remains a source for grants to increase access to justice. He served on the bar association’s board for 5 years and was president for 2 years. At the time, he was only the second person in the US to serve both as executive director and president of a state bar. As one of the top lobbyists in North Dakota, he’s also served on the association’s legislative committee for 20 years.

Please join us in congratulating Joel on this capstone achievement!

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