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August 06, 2019

California law professor Raquel Aldana to receive ABA Margaret Brent Award

CHICAGO, Aug. 6, 2019 – Raquel Aldana, an immigrant from Central America who became a legal champion for the rights of immigrants, is a recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2019 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

Aldana will receive the award, given annually by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, at noon on Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Marriott Marquis San Francisco during the ABA Annual Meeting. In addition to Aldana, the 2019 award recipients include Michelle Banks, senior adviser at BarkerGilmore; Kelly M. Dermody, managing partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein; San Diego Judge Judith McConnell and California Labor Secretary Julie Su.

“These distinguished women have been trailblazers throughout their careers, and they are role models for all women in the legal profession,” said Stephanie Scharf, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, of this year’s Brent honorees. “The Commission is thrilled to honor and celebrate their outstanding achievements at the 2019 Margaret Brent Awards luncheon.”

Aldana is the associate vice chancellor for Academic Diversity at UC Davis, and a professor at the School of Law. She joined UC Davis in 2017, after 17 years as a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and the McGeorge School of Law, where she also served as associate dean for Research. 

Aldana was a Fulbright Scholar in Guatemala in 2006-07, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Arizona State University and graduating from Harvard Law School. Aldana is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, serves on the Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, and has served on the Latin American and Caribbean Council of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative. In 2018, she co-edited a book titled, “From Extraction to Emancipation: Development Reimagined,” published by the ABA and Carolina Academic Press.

As a law professor, Aldana started several programs centered around intercultural understanding. She instituted service-learning initiatives to provide legal services to immigrants. Her study abroad programs were designed to instill in future lawyers the values and attitudes of intercultural sensibility.

Since joining the UC Davis faculty, Aldana has initiated a symposium between the nursing school, the medical school and the law school, seeking mental health solutions for California’s refugee population. She also works with first-generation female Latinx law students as part of UC Davis’ First Generation Initiative.

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.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. To review our privacy statement click here. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.