Davis G. Yee

2017 Warren E. Burger Prize for Writing

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA—Davis G. Yee has been selected to receive the American Inns of Court 2017 Warren E. Burger Prize for Writing. The prize will be awarded at the organization’s Celebration of Excellence held at the Supreme Court of the United States in October and hosted by Associate Justice Elena Kagan.

The Warren E. Burger Prize is a writing competition designed to promote scholarship in the areas of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence and recognizes recipients with publication of their winning essay in South Carolina Law Review and a cash prize of $5,000.

In his winning essay, “The Professional Responsibility of Fair Play When Dealing with a Pro Se Adversary,” Yee observes that, while “the paramount challenge for the pro se litigant is getting a fair and just outcome in the legal system,” many obstacles exist. Therefore, “solutions… have been focused on strategies to level the playing field,” but they are “insufficient and ineffective.”

To ensure professional responsibility of fair play, Yee advances a concept known as “recognition respect,” which “requires an attorney to first recognize the nature of the adversary and claims at issue and to then act accordingly.” He writes:

It is not about having the attorney treat the pro se adversary with esteem that is merited or earned by the latter’s conduct or character. Rather, recognition respect is about having the attorney avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. It is about how the attorney’s relationship and dealings are to be regulated based on the pro se adversary’s level of legal sophistication, the type of legal interest at stake in the case, and the degree to which the pro se claims are timely and legal cognizable. Under recognition respect, no two pro se adversaries are equal.

Yee is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and is also a certified public accountant.

A graduate of the University of California at Davis, Yee earned his J.D. at Lewis & Clark Law School and his LL.M. in taxation at the Georgetown University Law Center. He served as judicial clerk to Justice Charles Z. Smith of the Washington Supreme Court. He has won several awards for his essays and was selected to attend the ABA Litigation Section Diverse Leaders Academy.