Cy pres awards

For more information on proposing or designating a cy pres award to the College, contact the Advancement Director 775-327-8252 or

The NJC represents a natural beneficiary for cy pres awards because it is a nonprofit and also nonpartisan organization that is dedicated to expanding access to justice, ensuring procedural fairness, and improving judicial decision-making.

The term cy pres come from French law and means roughly “as near as possible.” When funds from a settlement or judgment go unclaimed, are undeliverable or otherwise unallocated, a court may award the money to a nonprofit organization that can put it to use in a way that is as near as possible to the intended purpose of the settlement or judgment.

The NJC uses cy pres funds to develop and improve courses (especially those relevant to the settlement or judgment at hand) and to increase access for more judges and other court personnel to obtain requisite skills/knowledge.

In 2022, a judge in a bank fraud lawsuit awarded the College $400,000 in cy pres funds to use for judicial education. Board of Visitors member Roman Silberfeld, the national trial chair for Robins Kaplan LLP in Los Angeles, made the case for the College to receive the award.

NJC’s qualifications to be a cy pres recipient

In a democracy, every citizen or entity deserves access to a fair, impartial and expert settler of disputes and administrator of justice. Most problems a society faces will eventually involve the justice system. That makes judicial education both a necessity and a never-ending pursuit.

Created in 1963 at the recommendation of a Supreme Court justice, The National Judicial College is the country’s oldest, largest, and most widely attended school for judges. Each year judges from all 50 states and several foreign countries study with the College, either in person or online. The NJC has been called the “gold standard” and “The Harvard of Judicial Education,” and its stated mission is “to make the world a more just place by educating and inspiring its judiciary.”

Judges teaching judges

Almost all NJC courses are taught by volunteers – hundreds of active and retired judges who want to improve the judiciary. They consider it an honor to share their knowledge and experience with fellow judges. One longtime judge and Distinguished Faculty member said recently, “The opportunity to be a part of this institution will always be the greatest honor of my life.”

If the purpose of the cy pres doctrine is to advance the interests of the class and people similarly situated, The National Judicial College is analogous to the O negative blood type, known as the universal donor. Just as O negative can help anyone in need of a transfusion, the service the NJC provides to the judiciary helps everyone whose livelihoods and lives depend on the rule of law, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and equal justice under law. Which, in a democracy, is everyone.