Paulette Brown, a labor and employment law partner and co-chair of the firmwide Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Locke Lord LLP in Morristown, New Jersey, took office today as president of the American Bar Association at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. She is the first woman of color to become president of the 136-year-old organization and will serve as president until the close of the ABA Annual Meeting in August 2016.
Brown plans to devote her presidency to serving ABA members and highlighting the value of the association by reaching out to lawyers and communities across the country. She is also organizing And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service on October 30, to mobilize thousands of lawyers across the country to volunteer their legal services to those living on the economic margins.
Brown also plans to build on the work the ABA has already done in the area of diversity and inclusion through a newly created Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360. The Commission will review and analyze diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, the judicial system and the American Bar Association with a goal of developing sustainable action plans.
“The ABA has an important role in rebuilding the nation’s confidence in our justice system,” Brown said. “Working to eliminate bias and enhance diversity and inclusion is one of the four goals of the ABA and it is critically important that the ABA increase its efforts at this time in our nation’s history.”
“The challenges we face appear to be daunting, but they are not insurmountable. Our commission is up for the challenge and will offer tangible, sustainable solutions that will have a positive impact on the perception of our justice system.”
“I look forward to leveraging the power of the nearly 400,000 ABA members to promote full and equal diversity and to end bias in the legal profession and the justice system. If we are true to our calling as lawyers, we must address this issue.”
Brown has held a variety of leadership positions within the ABA. She has been a member of the ABA House of Delegates since 1997 and is a former member of the ABA Board of Governors and its Executive Committee as well as the Governance Commission. While serving on the Board of Governors, Brown chaired its Program, Planning and Evaluation Committee. She has served on the Commission on Women in the Profession and was a co-author of "Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms.” Brown also chaired the ABA Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice (now Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice) and is a past co-chair of the Commission on Civic Education in our Nation's Schools. Brown served on the Section of Legal Education’s Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and its Executive Committee. She is a former member of The Fund for Justice and Education and the FJE President's Club, and is a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Brown has held many positions throughout her career, including serving as in-house counsel to a number of Fortune 500 companies and as a municipal court judge. In private practice, she has focused on all facets of labor and employment and commercial litigation.
Brown has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of "The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” and by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the “prominent women and minority attorneys in the State of New Jersey." She has received the New Jersey Medal from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and currently serves on its Board of Trustees.