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ABA Honors Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper with 2017 National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award

December 18, 2017
Contact: Mary McAfee or

ATLANTA - Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper has been named the recipient of the 2017 American Bar Association (ABA) Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award (NOYLA).

The Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. NOYLA recognizes an ABA young lawyer in good standing who exhibits: professional excellence; service to the profession and the bar; service to the community; and/or a reputation for or the advancement of legal ethics and professional responsibility. The award is named in honor of Smith, who chaired the ABA YLD in 1960-61 where he served with distinction before continuing his lifelong service to the American Bar Association and the legal profession. Smith passed away in 2013.

Edmondson-Cooper, a current member of the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Board of Directors, is a bilingual prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Labor where she litigates labor and employment matters focusing on cases involving violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, the "H" provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act-provisions regulating the working conditions of workers who enter the United States via temporary work visas, a significant number of whom are limited English proficient (LEP)-, and other federal labor laws.

A former legal interpreter and legal aid attorney, Edmondson-Cooper spends a significant amount of time working to alleviate language access as an access to justice issue. With more than a decade of language access experience, Edmondson-Cooper's advocacy includes contributing to the development of local, state and federal language access policies and the development of state and national curricula for training attorneys and judges on language access as an access to justice issue. Edmondson-Cooper is a co-founder of the Eliminating Barriers to Justice (EBJ) continuing legal education series, Georgia's first and only comprehensive access to justice/ language access-centered training for lawyers, judges, court personnel, interpreters and other access to justice stakeholders. Approaching its fifth year, EBJ examines language access and other access to justice challenges from multiple perspectives including an annual emphasis on ethics/professional responsibility and professionalism.

Appointed by the Supreme Court of Georgia, Edmondson-Cooper is a member of the Court's Commission on Interpreters where currently she is leading the development a model administrative protocol -the first of its kind in Georgia-which will assist the state's judiciary with the provision of language services for LEP persons and persons with disabilities. Additionally, Edmondson-Cooper has authored several publications on language access, including "Chapter 11: Appointing Qualified Interpreters" for the 2016 Georgia State Court Benchbook which has been subsequently adopted by several of Georgia's other classes of court. Additional details about Edmondson-Cooper's advocacy are available at

Edmondson-Cooper's advocacy has been acknowledged statewide and nationally, including recognition by the Daily Report as one of 40 Georgia lawyers under age 40 named a rising legal star to watch, recognition by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity, selection to the American Bar Foundation Fellows, and recognition by the National Bar Association and the American Bar Association as one of the nation's top 40 young lawyers under 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, including in innovation, vision, leadership and legal and community involvement.

A graduate of Spelman College and Mississippi College School of Law, Edmondson-Cooper is a past recipient of the Signature Service Award, one of the YLD's highest honors, which is presented annually to recognize an individual who has achieved a certain level of service, as measured by his or her commitment to the YLD and other service-related organizations.

The ABA will present Edmondson-Cooper with the 2017 Wm. Reece Smith Jr. NOYLA in February 2018 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.


The Georgia YLD is comprised of approximately 10,000 lawyers admitted to the State Bar of Georgia who are 36 years old or younger or who have been admitted to their first bar no more than five years. The YLD has been strengthened over the years through guidance by the State Bar of Georgia, its Executive Committee and Board of Governors, the Supreme Court, and through dedicated service rendered by its members. In keeping with its motto of "working for the profession and the public," the YLD has more than 30 hard-working committees that produce an array of projects and programs. Through the years, the YLD has also gained national recognition by winning several American Bar Association awards for its projects and publications.