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August 13, 2019

New Orleans lawyer Judy Perry Martinez takes over as ABA president

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 13, 2019 – Judy Perry Martinez, of Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans, became president of the American Bar Association today at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. She will serve a one-year term ending in August 2020.

“The American Bar Association will continue to stand up for an independent judiciary and bolster the integrity of our democratic institutions, especially those that depend on due process, equality, civility, respect, and fairness,” Martinez said. “As lawyers, advancing the rule of law, which protects everyone’s liberties, is of paramount importance. The ABA also will work to increase public awareness, so more people understand the vital role they can play in protecting democracy. Working together, we can ensure that laws are fair and justly enforced, and our rights are never taken for granted.”

Martinez returned to SPS&R in 2015, previously serving the firm from 1982 to 2003 as a partner, member of its governing committee and commercial litigator. In 2003, she joined Northrop Grumman as assistant general counsel for litigation, managing litigation for the western half of the country before becoming vice president and chief compliance officer there in 2011. She retired from Northrop in 2015, to become a fellow in residence for one year at the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard, and then returned to New Orleans.

For more than 30 years, Martinez has held various leadership positions at the ABA. From 2014-16, Martinez was chair of the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services. She also was a member of the ABA Task Force on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System. In 2011, she was appointed chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which evaluates all perspective nominees to the federal bench. Martinez has served as the ABA lead representative to the United Nations and as a member of the ABA Board of Governors and its executive committee. She previously has served as chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division, a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and chair of the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence. She has been a member of the ABA House of Delegates since 1991. Martinez has served as a member of the ABA Task Force on Attorney Client Privilege, the Council of the ABA Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the ABA’s World Justice Project Committee.

Outside of her work with the ABA, Martinez, along with other members of the Louisiana Bar, established the New Orleans Pro Bono Project and served as its first chair in the early 1980s. Additionally, she served as chair of the New Orleans Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. And, Martinez chaired the Louisiana State Bar Association Committee on Minority Involvement in its inaugural year, 1989, and chaired the LSBA Professionalism and Quality of Life Committee, and the LSBA Post-Conviction Death Penalty Representation Committee.

She is a member of the board of directors of the American Bar Foundation, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Louisiana Bar Foundation, and a member of the American Law Institute.

Martinez is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2017, she was honored with the David A. Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award by the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Presidents’ Award by the New Orleans Bar Association. In 2012, Martinez received the Camille Gravel Pro Bono Public Service Award from the New Orleans chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Martinez is also a past recipient of the Sam Dalton Capital Defense Advocacy Award from the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Counsel (1997), the Michelle Pitard Wynne Professionalism Award from the Association of Women Attorneys (1998) and the Alliance for Justice Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Law Association (1999). 

Martinez earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Orleans, and graduated from Tulane University Law School, with honors, in 1982.

A biography of Martinez can be found here. A high-resolution photo of her can be found here.

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. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.