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Memphis judge to receive ABA GPSolo award for making a difference by breaking barriers


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Memphis judge to receive ABA GPSolo award for making a difference by breaking barriers

By Irma Romero

CHICAGO, Sept. 30, 2013 — Bernice B. Donald, a distinguished judge from Memphis, Tenn., will receive one of the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division 2013 Difference Makers Awards for “making a difference by breaking barriers.” 


Donald is being honored for her extraordinary service as a judge, which includes being the first African-American female to be appointed as a judge in the state of Tennessee and on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. In addition, Donald also became the first African-American female to hold an officer position in the ABA’s history when she served a three-year term as secretary, beginning in 2008.   

“Judge Donald has broken gender and color barriers locally and nationally,” said Judge Jennifer A. Rymell, ABA GPSolo chair. “We are honored to present Judge Donald with this award.” 

Donald also has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in 2011 to an indefinite term on the Judicial Branch Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. 

She is extremely active in the ABA — currently serving as a member of the ABA House of Delegates, the Steering Committee of the Nominating Committee, the Judges Advisory Committee and as the co-chair of the ABA Section of Litigation’s Leadership Fellows Program. In addition, Donald serves as president of the American Bar Foundation.    

Donald also is active in the National Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association and the Memphis Bar Association. In 2005, she founded 4-Life, a skills training and enrichment program for children ages 6 to 15.

Donald will be presented with her award during the Difference Makers Awards program on Oct. 4 at GPSolo’s 2013 fall meeting and National Solo & Small Firm Conference in Lexington, Ky. 

With more than 22,500 members, the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division (GPSolo) is committed to providing unique resources exclusively for solo, small-firm and general practitioners, who represent half of the nation’s lawyers. For more information on ABA GPSolo, go to

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