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Bridgewater Attorney Named Top Professionalism Award Winner Richard Norris wins 2009 Daniel J. O 'Hern Award

New Brunswick -- A veteran Somerset County lawyer won this year's Daniel J. O'Hern Award from the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law.

The Daniel J. O’Hern Award is presented annually to a senior member of the bar in recognition of commitment to the highest ideals of the profession, career achievement, and service to the profession and community.

"He is an outstanding lawyer and true gentleman who has, for years, been a mentor to younger lawyers and a leader of the bar. He certainly deserves to be recognized by his peers for his contributions to the organized bar and community," said Commission Chair Rayman L. Solomon, dean of Rutgers University School of Law in Camden.

Norris, who founded Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus in Bridgewater, will be presented with the award Oct. 22, at the Commission's annual lunch at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick. The event will also feature the presentation of Professional Lawyer of the Year Awards to attorneys from across the state.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Robert Clifford will also make a presentation at the event about Justice O’Hern, who died this spring.

Norris said he was overwhelmed by the recognition. He has focused his legal efforts on protecting the rights of his clients and society, he said.

“We’re lawyers. We have certain skills and training and knowledge of legal issues. … We have a responsibility as a profession to protect rights,” he said. “I enjoy the attempt to solve problems whether it’s for people, towns or companies. And you never stop finding something new. That’s a great part of the pleasure.”

Norris, who lives in Bridgewater, has practiced law in New Jersey for over 50 years. He served as President of the Somerset County Bar Association, was the first Public Defender in Somerset County, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Somerset Valley Visiting Nurses Association, the Somerville YMCA, and Temple Sholom.

The New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law is a cooperative effort of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the state and federal judiciaries and the state’s three law schools – Seton Hall, Rutgers-Camden, and Rutgers-Newark. The commission seeks to encourage a spirit of professionalism and commitment to high standards of professional conduct among lawyers and judges through educational seminars and related initiatives.