American Bar Association announces recipients of 2021 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards

 The American Bar Association has announced the recipients of the 2021 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards.  The 2021 award recipients include Irma Gonzalez, a retired United States District judge; Joan Haratani, a partner at Morgan Lewis in San Francisco; Joyce Hughes, a professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago; Pamela Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; and Ellen Rosenblum, attorney general of Oregon.

The honorees 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, August 5, during the 2021 ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting.

“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.

—Irma Gonzalez

Gonzalez currently works as a mediator with JAMS (formerly known as Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services), where she handles mediations and arbitrations.

Gonzalez was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in 1992, becoming the first Latina of Mexican heritage to be appointed to the federal bench. She served as chief judge of the District Court from January 2005 to January 2012. Gonzalez also served as a judge on the Superior Court in San Diego County (1991-1992) and as a magistrate judge for the Southern District of California (1984-1990). She retired from the federal bench in October 2013.

From 1973 to 1975, Gonzalez was a law clerk to United States District Judge William C. Frey in Tucson, Arizona. She also served as an assistant United States attorney in the criminal division of the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona and the Central District of California (1975-1981). Gonzalez was an associate attorney at the former law firm of Seltzer, Caplan, Wilkins, and McMahon (1981-1984).

While a district judge, Gonzalez served as a member of two Judicial Conference committees – the committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judge System and the committee on Judicial Security. She served as chair of the Federal Judicial Center’s Benchbook committee (2009-2013), president of the 9th Circuit District Judges Association (2009-2011) and chaired the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in 2010. In 2011, Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Gonzalez to the Supreme Court Fellows Program Commission, where she served as chair (2012-2013). Gonzalez also was co-chair of the Federal Practice Task Force of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation (2011-2013).

Gonzalez is a founding member of Latinas in the Law and is a member of the Lawyers Club Advisory Board, a master of the Enright Inn of Court, a member of the Federal Bar Association’s Advisory Board and a member of the Judicial Advisory Board of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

In 2008, Gonzalez was named Outstanding Jurist by the San Diego County Bar Association. In 2011, she received the Joan Dempsey Klein Award for distinguished Jurist by the California Women Lawyers and in 2013 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic National Bar Association. In 2015 the University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award. She was inducted into the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017, and in 2021 she received the Lawyer’s Club Excellence in Diversity Award.

Gonzalez graduated from Stanford University in 1970 and received her law degree from the University of Arizona School of Law in 1973.

—Joan Haratani

Haratani specializes in mass tort litigations. Her practice spans state and federal law, including the Alien Tort Statute, California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), pharmaceutical and medical device liability doctrines and national mortgage foreclosure issues. Her crisis work includes serving as one of the lead national counsel in litigations involving the possible contamination of a blood product with hepatitis C. That case resulted in a worldwide recall.

Haratani also represented a major food manufacturer in a high-exposure product liability case alleging the product resulted in apoplexia to an infant, with a demand for more than $50 million in compensatory damages. As first chair trial lawyer, she reached a favorable settlement just as the trial was about to begin.

She frequently represents medical device makers in product liability cases, including litigation involving surgical equipment and implantable intraocular lenses. As co-lead counsel on behalf of a Fortune 50 retail company, Haratani secured a dismissal at the federal court level in a worldwide class action concerning breach of contract allegations. That decision was later affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Currently, she serves as one of the firm’s national counsel for a financial institution.

Haratani has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California and as a Top 75 Women Litigator by the Daily Journal. She was selected by the corporate members of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association as a Female Litigator on the Rise in Diversity & the Bar. She was also named one of the 500 most influential Asian Americans in America by Avenue Asia magazine.

Haratani has served as a member of the ABA House of Delegates. She also served as president for the Bar Association of San Francisco, the first woman of color to hold that position. She is a past president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, as well as past regional governor of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Haratani is a graduate of St. John’s College and received her law degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law.

—Joyce Hughes

Hughes has taught law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law since 1979. Before that, she was an associate professor of law (1976-1979) and a visiting associate professor of law (1975-1976). She also was an associate professor of law at University of Minnesota (1971-1975), and a visiting professor of law at University of California Hastings College of Law in 1991.

Hughes has taught courses in banking law, civil procedure, evidence, 14th Amendment, immigration law, legal profession, preventive land law, real estate, refugees and asylum, and trial practice.

She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Black Women Lawyers of Greater Chicago, Cook County Bar Association and the National Bar Association. In 1983, Hughes was appointed to the Transition Committee on Educational Policy, Public Safety and Administrative Policy by former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. She was also appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by former Mayor Jane M. Byrne in 1980, and to the Governor’s Council on Jobs and the Illinois Economy by former Gov. James R. Thompson. In 1977, she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Delegation to Belgrade, Yugoslavia on the Helsinki Accord.

Hughes currently serves on the advisory committee for the Chicago chapter of the American Constitution Society. She graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, received her certificate as a Fulbright Scholar from the University of Madrid and graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota School of Law.

—Pamela Karlan

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.”

—Ellen Rosenblum

Rosenblum is serving her third term as Oregon attorney general, having first been elected in 2012. She is the first woman to hold this post in Oregon history. Throughout her time as attorney general, Rosenblum has been on the frontlines defending Oregonians’ civil rights, advocating for the most vulnerable and holding powerful actors accountable.

Before she was elected attorney general, Rosenblum had a lengthy legal and judicial career in private practice, as a federal prosecutor and as a state trial and appellate court judge. She has held numerous leadership roles with attorneys general and lawyer organizations, including serving as co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General, ABA secretary and chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law.

Rosenblum is a founding member of several women lawyer organizations in Oregon, including Oregon Women Lawyers, as well as the first Oregon bar committee on the subject of combining family and career. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her mentoring, leadership and professionalism. Rosenblum earned her bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Oregon.

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.




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