First Black Woman Elected to Head American Bar Association

Paulette Brown

First Black Woman Elected to Head American Bar Association

Paulette Brown, 63, will lead the 400,000-member association in 2015.

Published September 11, 2014

Next year, Paulette Brown will become the first African-American woman to serve as president of the American Board Association.

Currently a partner in the New Jersey law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer, the new president-elect will start leading the 400,000 ABA members next summer while working to help eliminate bias and enhance diversity within the legal profession and advance the role of law.

Brown is a “classic example of somebody who has succeeded through her own will and an amazing amount of effort,” Matt McTygue, a fellow partner in Edwards Wildman Palmer, told the Boston Globe. “I don’t even know if she sleeps at all, but if she does it’s very little.”

Brown, the first in her family to attend college, studied political science at Howard University and received a full scholarship to attend law school at Seton Hall University. 

Her professional background includes having served as in-house counsel for Fortune 500 companies, opening her own firm, which focused on employment, civil rights and product liability law, mentoring hundreds of female lawyers of color and raising awareness about implicit biases in the workplace and beyond.

“Once you recognize that it’s a possibility that you could have some unconscious bias, then it hopefully will adjust your behavior. You will take a second to say, ‘Wait a minute, am I reacting this way because I could have some sort of bias in this situation?’” Brown told the Boston Globe. “As a result, I think that you will be more fair in any kind of deliberation that you are engaged in.”

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Written by Patrice Peck


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