chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
August 08, 2019

California lawyer Michelle Banks to receive ABA Margaret Brent Award

CHICAGO, Aug. 6, 2019 – Michelle Banks, senior adviser at BarkerGilmore, is a recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2019 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

Banks 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 Banks, the 2019 award recipients include UC-Davis law professor Raquel Aldana; Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein managing partner Kelly M. Dermody; 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.”

Banks is a senior adviser at BarkerGilmore, a New York-based boutique executive search firm, specializing in providing executive coaching to general counsel. She started her career with Sheppard Mullin and then joined Morrison & Foerster as an associate. She worked in Tokyo at ITOCHU Corporation, one the largest trading companies in Japan.

Banks, a UCLA Law School graduate, is the co-founder and co-chair of UCLA Law Women LEAD, a network of almost 2,000 women law students and alumnae at her alma mater focused on leadership, empowerment and advancement for women lawyers. She is a board member of DirectWomen, a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare women lawyers to serve on corporate boards of directors.

Banks was the first woman legal counsel for the Golden State Warriors NBA team before becoming general counsel of Gap Inc. In her pro bono work with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, she helped lead initiatives to promote diversity at law firms. She was a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, where she promoted gender equity, particularly in compensation. In 2017-18, she participated on the conference steering committee for the ABA presidential initiative, “Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law.”

Banks has received numerous awards, including being recognized as a “Legend in Law” by the Burton Foundation; a “Distinguished General Counsel” by the Directors Roundtable; a “Top General Counsel to Watch” by Corporate Board Member; a “Corporate Counsel Innovator” by the Financial Times; an “Influential Woman in Bay Area Business” and a “Corporate Counsel Diversity Champion” by the San Francisco Business Times; a “Most Powerful and Influential Woman” by the California Diversity Council; and a “Woman of Achievement” by Legal Momentum. Santa Clara University Law School presented her with its Social Justice and Human Rights Award in 2014, and UCLA Law School named her its “Alumna of the Year” for Professional Achievement in 2016.

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