I had the privilege of presenting the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Liberty Achievement Award yesterday.

Thomson Reuters has sponsored the TIPS Liberty Achievement Award – which recognizes attorneys and judges who take leadership roles in promoting diversity in the profession of law – since its inception in 2008. It shines a spotlight on individuals who prioritize diversity through the choices they make in their careers and the work they do each day.

TIPS’ important work on behalf of diversity in the law is meaningful to me, personally, and to Thomson Reuters. And the Liberty Achievement Award is a wonderful way to celebrate the progress being made.

A few weeks ago, we witnessed history in the making as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American female justice. This shows just how important diversity and inclusion efforts are, and what a meaningful impact this work makes.

Yet, there’s much more work to be done, as the challenges and turmoil of the past two years have shown. And TIPS 2022 Liberty Achievement Award recipient exemplifies what our world needs in these tough times: a catalyst for change.

I was so pleased to present the award to the Honorable Pamila J. Brown. Her career has been defined by the expression “lifting as we climb,” which is her mantra. She shares my belief that lawyers can be the voice of the voiceless.

What stands out most about Judge Brown’s numerous achievements is how – as an attorney who is a woman of color – she had to be her own north star. There wasn’t a playbook for her to follow.

She charted her own path. And now she’s a trailblazer inspiring the next generation.

She has served as associate judge in Howard County, Maryland, since 2002. She was named administrative judge in 2017, where she presides over civil, criminal, domestic and traffic cases as well as being responsible for all administrative matters.

Her interest in the law goes back to her freshman year of high school, when she attended the trial of a controversial civil rights leader. But she didn’t know a lawyer who looked like her. She didn’t know any women attorneys, nor any lawyers of color. But she was not deterred from her path.

She credits her success to mentors who encouraged her in the practice of law. But her strong work ethic, tenacity, and sincere love of helping people have been equally important in her exemplary career.

She began government service as director of Inmate Legal Services for the Baltimore city jail, and later served as assistant city solicitor for Baltimore. She also served as a member of a Foster Care Review Board in Baltimore and as an assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General.

Also, Judge Brown has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore Law School and faculty for the Maryland Judicial College and National Judicial College. One of Ms. Brown’s trailblazing moments came in 2015, when she was named the first African-American woman to lead the Maryland State Bar Association.

Throughout her career, Judge Brown has prioritized the responsibilities of leadership and professional development with an emphasis on diversity, including her role with the Minority Caucus. She’s also a frequent speaker and has addressed topics including “Courtroom Tools for Addressing Human Trafficking, Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Child Exploitation in the time of COVID-19.”

She has made meaningful contributions throughout her distinguished career in law and public service, and inspired countless individuals along the way. As a Liberty Achievement Award recipient, Judge Brown joins a prestigious group of highly accomplished leaders in the legal profession who also serve as diversity champions.

Judge Bernice B. Donald received the inaugural Lifetime Liberty Achievement Award in 2020. Previous Liberty Achievement Award winners include Judge Lourdes Ventura (2019), Professor Kathleen Dillon Narko (2018) and Judge Lorna G. Schofield (2017). Thomson Reuters is honored to recognize all recipients’ remarkable achievements and commitment to diversity.

This guest post was authored by Thomas Kim, chief legal officer and company secretary, Thomson Reuters.


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