August 13, 2017

Federal judge Bernice Bouie Donald to receive ABA Margaret Brent Award

CHICAGO, Aug. 3, 2017 — The Hon. Bernice Bouie Donald, circuit judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Memphis, Tenn., is a recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2017 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

Donald will receive the award, given annually by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, on Sunday, Aug. 13, at the New York Hilton Midtown at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York. In addition to Donald, the 2017 award recipients include Nancy Duff Campbell, Hon. Lynn Nakamoto, Lauren Stiller Rikleen and Nadine Strossen.

“We are honored to recognize this spectacular group of women. We applaud their achievements, knowing that their efforts will inspire a new generation of women lawyers,” said Michele Coleman Mayes, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, of this year’s Brent winners. Previous honorees include U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Judge Donald is the first African American to serve on the Sixth Circuit. Prior to her confirmation in 2011, she was the first African-American female jurist on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (1996-2011), the first African-American woman bankruptcy judge in the U.S. (1988-96) and the first African-American female judge in Tennessee when elected in 1982.

Donald served as president of the National Association of Women Judges (1990-91), where she developed a curriculum to teach women how to position themselves for election in states or how to develop as lawyers to be qualified candidates for appointment to judgeships. She has worked tirelessly to mentor women and provide opportunities for and advance the careers of women and women of color in the legal profession, including taking an active role in leadership positions in numerous legal organizations.

The ABA Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, established in 1991, honors outstanding women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence in their area of specialty and have actively paved the way to success for others. The award is named for Margaret Brent, the first woman lawyer in America.  Brent arrived in the colonies in 1638, and was involved in 124 court cases in more than eight years, winning every case. In 1648, she formally demanded a vote and voice in the Maryland Assembly, which the governor denied.

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