American Bar Association Presents Women Lawyers Achievement Awards

by Erin Abrams (New York City)

The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession is hosting its annual meeting this upcoming week, which should be packed full of action items about women in the law. For those attorneys who are interested in a historic view of women’s struggle for equality in the legal profession or a present opportunity to network with other up and coming female attorneys, this committee meeting represents a great opportunity.

Indeed, several prominent female attorneys will be presented with the 18th Annual Margaret Brent Women Lawyers Achievement Award at a luncheon on Sunday, August 10, 2008. The ABA 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 awards are named after Margaret Brent, who arrived in the American colonies in 1638 and became America’s first female lawyer. This year’s honorees include:

Hon. Ruth Cooper Burg, Judge (Retired), Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, pioneering jurist/leader in public contract law, and active mediator/arbitrator; in Washington, DC.

Roberta Karmel, Centennial Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School and first woman appointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission; in New York, NY.

Colonel Linda Strite Murnane, USAF (Retired), Senior Legal Officer, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and advocate for advancement of women in the law and in the military; in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Mary Jo White, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP and first woman U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; in New York, NY.
Hon. Ann Claire Williams, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and first African-American to serve on the Seventh Circuit; in Chicago, IL.

Special Award: Sarah Weddington, Adjunct Professor, University of Texas at Austin, women’s rights advocate, and founder, The Weddington Center; in Austin, TX.

Previous award winners have participated in an ABA sponsored town hall meeting, entitled “Are We There Yet? The Unfinished Journey of Women in the Legal Profession,” where they discussed women’s progress in advancing as attorneys in both the private sector and public.

The ABA Commission on Women has released many interesting studies on the subject of women in law, including Charting Our Progress, a report about the generational divide and obstacles/opportunities facing women lawyers, and one of the first studies about women of color at law firms, Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms.

Pamela Roberts, chair of the ABA Commission on Women, says of this year’s award winners, “We are honored to recognize a spectacular group of women lawyers and judges. We applaud their achievements knowing that their efforts will inspire a new generation of women lawyers.”

These distinguished women certainly have earned our admiration and respect at The Glass Hammer. While there are many accomplished women in the law, this year’s honorees truly shine.