Judge Nancy F. Atlas (Ret.) to Receive the 2024 American Inns of Court

James E. Coleman Jr. Award for Professionalism in the Fifth Circuit

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA—Nancy F. Atlas has been selected to receive the prestigious 2024 American Inns of Court James E. Coleman Jr. Award for Professionalism in the Fifth Circuit. After serving as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, Atlas founded and provides mediation, arbitration, and other services through Atlas ADR, PLLC. Atlas will receive the award during the 2024 Judicial Conference of the Fifth Circuit in May.

“Judge Atlas served for 27 years as a consummate civil servant, admired and well respected by her peers, a mentor for many, and a well-respected jurist,” writes President-elect Iftikhar Ahmed and other leaders of the Honorable Nancy F. Atlas Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, who nominated their Inn’s namesake for the award. “While on the bench, Judge Atlas was widely acknowledged as having a keen legal mind and of always exhibiting the highest levels of integrity.”

Nominated by President Bill Clinton, Atlas became a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Texas in 1995. She took senior status in 2014 and retired in 2022.

Mediation has long played an important role in Atlas’s career. From 2017 to 2021, she was one of the judges appointed to help mediate Puerto Rico’s insolvency cases. For most of her judicial career, she also supervised the Southern District’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. She cofounded the Houston chapter of the Association of Attorney-Mediators Inc.

Before becoming a judge, Atlas was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (Civil Division) in New York City and a shareholder in the Houston law firm Sheinfeld, Maley & Kay PC in Houston. She pioneered the use of mediation in commercial cases in Houston, mediating nearly 500 cases between 1990 and 1995.

Now that Atlas has left the bench, she provides mediation and arbitration services, presides over mock trials and moot court sessions, consults on litigation and settlement strategies, and conducts neutral case evaluations through her company Atlas ADR. She is a member of Federal Arbitration Inc.’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals.

Atlas cofounded the Atlas IP Inn and serves as one of its judicial counselors.

Atlas earned a magna cum laude undergraduate degree in mathematics and cum laude degree in political science from Tufts, graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1971. She earned her law degree from New York University School of Law in 1974.