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August 8, 2010

Modern Day Pioneers of the Profession Who Forged the Way for Others Honored at 20th Annual ABA Awards Luncheon

Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards honorees (left to right): M. Margaret McKeown, Brooksley E. Born, Laura Stein, Willie Stevenson Glanton, and Elizabeth J. Cabraser

Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards honorees (left to right): M. Margaret McKeown, Brooksley E. Born, Laura Stein, Willie Stevenson Glanton, and Elizabeth J. Cabraser

Although they come from diverse backgrounds and pursued different career paths, five women lawyers honored at the 20th Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards luncheon have one thing in common:  unselfish devotion to opening doors for other women in the legal profession.

Brooksley E. Born, Elizabeth J. Cabraser, Willie Stevenson Glanton, Judge M. Margaret McKeown and Laura Stein received the honor Aug. 8, at the Moscone Center during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Named for the first woman lawyer in America, the Margaret Brent Award is bestowed by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.  Roberta D. Liebenberg, chair of the commission, praised the honorees for their invaluable contributions, “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 outstanding achievements at the milestone 20th anniversary of the Margaret Brent Awards Luncheon.”

Brooksley E. Born of Washington, D.C., is a retired partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and a former chairperson of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  In accepting her award, Born reminded those in attendance that the work is far from done.  She cited a list of areas where equality has not been fully realized—from Title IX, which guaranteed educational opportunities for women, to Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights and equal rights for women, to law firm partnerships.  “It’s up to all of us to continue the effort to shatter the glass ceiling in the profession and society at large,” said Born.

Elizabeth J. Cabraser of San Francisco is a founding partner of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and litigator who represents plaintiffs in complex civil litigation.  She is also founder of the ABA National Institute on Class Actions.  Cabraser told of her indebtedness to her family who “forgot to tell me there are things I couldn’t do.”

Willie Stevenson Glanton of Des Moines is a civil rights activist and was the first African American woman elected to the Iowa State Legislature.  “I have found myself in an exclusive group of women who miraculously made our marks,” said Glanton, in spite of being “assailed by all sides.”

M. Margaret McKeown of San Diego is a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and was the first woman partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP in Seattle.  “The glass ceiling was not even in my lexicon,” said McKeown, who told how her first day on the job she was mistaken for a Xerox operator.

Laura Stein of Oakland is senior vice president and general counsel of The Clorox Company and the first woman general counsel at two Fortune 50 companies. Stein credited “support, heart and opportunity” for her success, and vowed to pass along those virtues to help other women advance in the profession.