One of the most powerful legal associations in America now has a Black female president

Paulette Brown
Paulette Brown
Paulette Brown

One of the most powerful legal associations in America now has a Black female president

By Your Black World

The American Bar Association is one of the most powerful legal organizations in the United States. There is now a Black woman running this extraordinary group.

In August, Paulette Brown is going to take over as the president-elect of the organization, making her the first Black female to ever hold this post. She is going to be president-elect for one year before taking the helm in 2015. According to, Brown was born and raised in the city of Baltimore, later attending Howard University.  She started off wanting to become a social worker, but eventually decided to go into the legal profession.

She’s a graduate of Seton Hall University and has been practicing law for 38 years.  She is currently a partner in a law firm in New Jersey with a specialization in labor law, employment law and litigation.

“When I first started going to court and so forth,” said Brown, “I had the usual experiences. ‘Are you the defendant? Are you the court reporter? Are you the plaintiff? No? Well then, who are you then?’ It never occurred to them that I could be the lawyer.”

Despite her achievements, Attorney Brown still runs into those who aren’t accustomed to seeing such high-powered Black women. She says that she was asked just a few weeks ago if she was a flight attendant during a plane ride.

“My father always said there were no girl jobs and no boy jobs,” said Brown. “My brother had to wash dishes and clean up just like we did—and my father did, too. He did laundry, he cooked, he did everything. And he went to work every day.”

Brown’s achievement is what many experts hope will be the first of many. To date, the United States Supreme Court has had an overabundance of Jewish representation, but has not had a single African American female on the bench.

Additionally, many leading law schools rarely grant tenure to African American women.  Harvard Law School, for example, only granted tenure to its second African American female in its nearly 200 year history. This move was made in response to criticism that then Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan hadn’t hired or tenured any African Americans for either tenured or tenure track positions during her six years on the court.

Can these institutions claim to be among the best in the world when they are so ignorant as to keep brilliant Black women from having a shot at these opportunities? There is nothing intelligent about racist/sexist exclusion.

The American Bar Association has 400,000 members, which makes this appointment significant.

Congratulations to Attorney Brown. We hope you do good things with this new-found power and responsibility.


About Carma Henry 15515 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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