Five Distinguished Trailblazers Named 2009 Margaret Brent Winners

ABA to Honor Outstanding Women in the Legal Profession

CHICAGO, April 8, 2009 –The _ Commission on Women in the Profession has chosen five women lawyers to receive its 2009 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

The award ceremony luncheon will take place Sunday, August 2, at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago during the ABA Annual Meeting.

The ABA 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.


Linda L. Addison of Houston and New York is a partner in Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. and co-founder of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas.  Among the few women to be hired to try cases in the 1970s, Addison built her practice when Texas business clubs were closed to women.  A nationally-recognized trial lawyer, described as “one of the nation’s smartest, most respected litigators,” Addison has tried more than 50 cases to judgment as lead counsel.  As the first woman on Fulbright’s six-person executive committee, she has shepherded the development of a modified work schedules program designed to enable women and men to remain on partnership track while balancing family and career. United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast named her “Woman of the Year” for her leadership of its Women’s Initiative.  Addison is a founding guild member of Girls Incorporated of Greater Houston and serves as a mentor for the FORTUNE/U.S. Department of State Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership.

Helaine M. Barnett of Washington, D.C., is president of Legal Services Corporation and the first legal aid lawyer to serve as its president.  She is the longest-serving president in LSC history and has devoted her entire career to providing legal services to the indigent.  Prior to her present position, Barnett dedicated more than 37 years as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society in New York City, where she headed the multi-office civil division from 1994 to 2003.  She has been an effective advocate for advancing diversity among the staff, promoting the careers of young women staff lawyers, and stressing the importance of mentoring programs.  As LSC president, Barnett has emphasized strategies to enhance the quality of legal services provided by LSC programs and issued a major report, Documenting the Justice Gap in America, which provides compelling evidence of the current unmet civil legal needs of low-income Americans.  Nearly 75% of existing clients of LSC-funded programs are women.

The Honorable Arnette R. Hubbard of Chicago is a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Jury Division and champion of human rights through campaigns encouraging the right to vote.  Judge Hubbard began her career in 1969 as a lawyer for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  She served as the only woman member of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners for eight years, where she ensured greater access to the voting process through aggressive voter recruitment programs. In 1992, she was elected president of the Association of Election Commissioners of Illinois and served three years. Two years later, she served as an official monitor as part of an American delegation to observe the first South African election conducted after apartheid was abolished.  In 1981, Judge Hubbard was the first woman lawyer elected to the presidency of the National Bar Association, the nation’s largest African-American lawyer organization. In 1997, she was appointed a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The Honorable Vanessa Ruiz of Washington, D.C., is the first Hispanic judge to serve on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, D.C.’s highest court. She is the longest-serving woman currently on the court.  Since her appointment in 1994 by President Clinton, Judge Ruiz has authored more than 400 published opinions on myriad issues important to D.C. residents.  She was president of the National Association of Women Judges and worked tirelessly to increase the selection of women to all levels of the federal and state courts.  An active board member of the International Association of Women Judges, she interacts with women judges from other countries to safeguard the legal rights of women and girls around the world.  Judge Ruiz began her career in private practice, focusing on international commercial and intellectual property transactions. In 1991, she joined the Office of the D.C. Corporation Counsel and became D.C.’s first Hispanic chief legal officer when appointed to head the agency a few years later.

Loretta A. Tuell of Washington, D.C., is a partner at AndersonTuell, L.L.P., an entirely Indian-owned law firm and among the first law firms in D.C. with a Native American woman as a founding partner.  Tuell practices federal Indian law and represents American Indian tribal government clients before Congress, the courts and regulatory agencies.  She has served as a senior advisor on legislative and administrative matters affecting Indian tribes as counsel on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, counselor to the assistant secretary of Indian affairs, and director of the Office of American Indian Trust.  She is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe and grew up on the reservation in Lapwai, Ind.  Tuell has served on the boards of the National Native _, National Native American Law Student’s Association, and since 1998 on the board of trustees of the United National Indian Tribal Youth, where she mentors, among others, young Native American women.

Previous winners range from small-firm practitioners in Alabama and Alaska to 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.  Bobbi Liebenberg, chair of the ABA Commission on Women, says of this year’s Brent winners, “These highly distinguished women have been trailblazers throughout their careers and they are inspirational role models for women throughout the legal profession, and indeed all women.  The commission is thrilled to honor and celebrate their achievements.”

With more than 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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