Davis G. Yee, Esquire

2021 American Inns of Court Warren E. Burger Prize

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA–Davis G. Yee is the 2021 winner of the prestigious Warren E. Burger Prize, a writing competition sponsored by the American Inns of Court to promote scholarship in the area of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence. The award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, recognizes Yee’s paper “Promoting Diversity as Professionalism.”

The winning paper, which will be published in the South Carolina Law Review, calls for promoting diversity within the legal field so that lawyers better reflect those they represent. The benefits of greater diversity go beyond the moral argument of diversity being the right thing to do and the economic argument that it is good for business, writes Yee. Yee offers an additional rationale. “Promoting diversity in the legal profession is consistent with the highest ideas of professionalism,” he writes.

In a divided country where some blame diversity for divisiveness, Yee says, promoting diversity is worth including in every lawyer’s creed of professionalism. By doing so, he argues, those in the legal profession can live up to Dean Anthony Kronman’s “lawyer-statesman” ideal, a lawyer who is “devoted to the public good but keenly aware of the limitations of human beings and their political arrangements.”

Yee, who also won the Burger Prize in 2017, is both an attorney and a certified public accountant. He has worked in the office of chief counsel for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since 2001, serving as a special trial attorney there since 2011. He has also been an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law since 2014. He cochairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section. Previously, he was an attorney-advisor to Judge Peter J. Panuthos in the U.S. Tax Court and a judicial clerk to Justice Charles Z. Smith of the Washington State Supreme Court.

The child of immigrants to the United States, Yee served as a translator for his parents as they navigated an IRS audit. The first in his family to attend law school, he received a law degree with a certificate in federal taxation from Lewis & Clark Law School in 1999 and a master of laws in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center in 2005. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California at Davis in 1993.