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July 29, 2021

Department of Justice lawyer Pamela Karlan to receive 2021 ABA Margaret Brent Award

CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 – Pamela Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, is a recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2021 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

Karlan will receive the award, given annually by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, at a virtual ceremony at 4 p.m. CDT Thursday, Aug. 5 during the 2021 ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting

In addition to Karlan, the 2021 award recipients include Irma Gonzalez, Joan Haratani, Joyce Hughes and Ellen Rosenblum.

“These five distinguished women are role models for all women in the legal profession. We honor their achievements and look forward to celebrating with them at the virtual 2021 Margaret Brent Awards ceremony,” said Maureen Mulligan, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and a founder and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. She is currently on leave from Stanford to serve as principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Karlan’s primary scholarship involves constitutional litigation. She has published dozens of articles and is the co-author of three leading casebooks as well as a monograph on constitutional interpretation — “Keeping Faith with the Constitution.” 

Karlan’s earlier public service includes clerking for Justice Harry Blackmun, a term on California’s Fair Political Practices Commission and an appointment as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division. While at DOJ, she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service and the John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice. She was also an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Karlan has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court.

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and the American Law Institute. She also served as chair of the board of the American Constitution Society. In 2016, Karlan was named one of the Politico 50 — a group of “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics.” Earlier in her career, The American Lawyer named her to its Public Sector 45, a group of lawyers “actively using their law degrees to change lives.”

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 other women in the profession. 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.

Click here for a photo of Karlan.

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