Paulette Brown, first African-American female ABA President

Historical Moment: Locke Lord’s Paulette Brown Takes Over as ABA President; First Woman of Color to Head Organization

Paulette Brown

(CHICAGO) August 4, 2015 – American Bar Association (ABA) members attending the organization’s Annual Meeting today witnessed an historical moment: Locke Lord Partner Paulette Brown taking over as ABA President for the next year; the first woman of color elected to the top post in the organization’s history.

Brown, a Labor and Employment Partner based in Locke Lord’s Morristown (New Jersey) office and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, is nationally known for speaking out to eliminate bias in the U.S. legal system and for her fight against subtle racism, discrimination and small slights known as “micro-inequities.”

For nearly 40 years, Brown has focused her practice on all facets of labor and employment and commercial litigation. Prior to entering private practice, she held a number of positions, including in-house counsel to Fortune 500 companies and as a Municipal Court judge.

“Paulette is an outstanding lawyer and a wonderful and authentic person,” said Locke Lord Chair Jerry Clements, who introduced Paulette at a reception at the ABA Conference in Chicago this weekend. “Paulette represents her clients with great skill and integrity, and she is admired and respected by all who know her. Paulette's commitment to diversity has made an important and critical difference to our firm.

“Locke Lord is a better place because of Paulette and I know she will continue to effect positive change within the ABA and the legal profession, as well, just as she does on a daily basis at our Firm.”

Brown said, “I look forward to leveraging the power of the nearly 400,000 ABA members to promote full and equal diversity and to end bias in the legal profession and the justice system. If we are true to our calling as lawyers, we must address this issue. Working to eliminate bias and enhance diversity and inclusion is one of the four goals of the ABA and it is critically important that the ABA increase its efforts at this time in our nation’s history.”

As part of her ABA Presidency, Brown wants to find ways to interest young people in the legal profession. This effort includes meeting with children at Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. She launched that effort during her term as President-Elect and met with children at the James Jordan Boys & Girls Club in Chicago during the ABA’s annual meeting.

In addition to the various positions she’s held with the ABA throughout her legal career, Brown is a past President of the National Bar Association, former President and Founder of the Association of Black Women Lawyers in New Jersey and a trustee of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation. Brown has testified before Congress about an initiative to diversify the federal bench and in 1994, she led a delegation that monitored the first free and democratic elections in South Africa.

This marks the third time a Locke Lord Partner has served as President of the ABA: Morris Harrell, a founding Partner of predecessor firm Rain Harrell Emery Young & Doke, led the national organization in 1982-83; and Moorfield Storey, a founding Partner of predecessor firm Palmer & Dodge, led the ABA in 1895-1896. In addition, earlier this year, Dallas Partner Frank Stevenson was voted President-Elect of the State Bar of Texas. He will serve as President of that organization for the 2016-17 year. And Dallas PartnerBrad Weber is currently President of the Dallas Bar Association.


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