ABA Commission on Women in the Profession announces five recipients of the 2024 Margaret Brent award

The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession has chosen five women lawyers to receive its 2024 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. The award ceremony luncheon will take place at 3-5:30 p.m. CDT on Aug. 4 during the ABA Annual Meeting.

The honorees are:

Dolores Atencio, visiting scholar at the University of Denver Latinx Center in the Sturm College of Law in Denver, Colorado. Atencio has practiced in Colorado for 42 years, specializing in employment and education law. In 2015, she created the national legal history project Luminarias de la Ley/Luminaries of the Law™ to identify and chronicle the accomplishments of Latina lawyers. Atencio was president of the Hispanic National and Colorado Hispanic Bar Associations, was the first co-chair of the HNBA’s Latina Lawyers Commission and chair of the Denver Women’s Commission.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and law degree from the University of Denver College of Law.

Pamila J. Brown, associate judge in the Howard County District Court in Ellicott City, Maryland. Brown has served as an associate judge for the district court in Howard County, Maryland, since 2002 and was named administrative judge in 2017 for Howard and Carroll counties. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore Law School, Southeastern National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Maryland Judicial College and as a lecturer for the Defense Research Institute and the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.  

Judge Brown received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law, after earning a B.S. in political science from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

Estelle H. Rogers, retired public interest lawyer of Forestville, California. Before retiring in 2015, Rogers was the legislative director of Project Vote, a national nonpartisan organization promoting civic engagement, improved election administration and voting rights.  Earlier in her career, she was a legal and public policy consultant, specializing in civil rights and civil liberties, with clients including the Alliance for Justice, Common Cause and the American Bar Association.

Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a law degree at the University of Maryland Law School.

Gina Shishima, chief strategy and operations partner, Norton Rose Fulbright U.S. LLP, Austin, Texas. Shishima was previously the U.S. head of intellectual property and chaired the U.S. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She is a member of the U.S. Management Committee, the U.S. firm’s compensation and promotion committee, as well as the Global Executive Committee. A life sciences patent attorney, Shishima previously co-chaired the Women’s Leadership Network of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and currently serves on the board of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Center for Women in Law.

She earned a bachelor’s degree at Columbia University, a doctorate at Princeton University and a law degree at the University of California-Berkeley.

Barbara Wall, board member and former chief legal and operating officer of Gannett Co., Inc., in Washington, D.C. Wall currently serves on the board of directors of Gannett Co., Inc., having retired from the company in 2020.  Her last role at Gannett was as chief legal and operating officer. In addition to her position on the Gannett board, Wall also serves as chair of the American Press Institute and sits on the boards of the Freedom Forum, the News Media Alliance and Helen Keller International. She has taught media law as an adjunct professor at George Washington and American universities and served on the faculty of Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law program for over 25 years.

Wall earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences and a law degree at the University of Virginia Law School.

“We applaud the achievements of this amazing group of women, who have and will continue to inspire all of us in the legal profession including the next generation of women lawyers,” said Karol Corbin-Walker, chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession.

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. In 1648, she formally demanded a vote and voice in the Maryland Assembly, which the governor denied.

Previous winners include U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Winners are selected on the basis of their professional accomplishments and their role in opening doors for other women lawyers.

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