News Release

Locke Lord Partner Paulette Brown Gives 2017 Commencement Address to Illinois and Tennessee Law School Graduates

May 16, 2017

May 16, 2017 – Locke Lord Partner and the Immediate Past President of the American Bar Association (ABA) Paulette Brown addressed the 2017 convocations for the University of Tennessee College of Law and the DePaul University College of Law, where she also received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. She urged graduates at both institutions to continue to provide service to the underserved and most vulnerable in our society.

“All of us have a unique responsibility to the profession to ensure respect for the rule of law for everyone,” Brown said. “That can only happen when the public believes that our justice system works fairly, impartially and without favor.

“Success and leadership are part of a never-ending process that comes with responsibilities and the commitment that we must continue to have to our communities, our families and to ourselves. When we think about someone other than ourselves, it demonstrates a symbol of leadership and inspires us to succeed.” 

When presenting Brown with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, DePaul University College of Law Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea said, “Paulette Brown, with extraordinary ambition, you not only have been a fierce advocate of the rule of law, but your influential work has paved the way for women in the legal field. Your focus on mentoring young students will undoubtedly inspire generations of lawyers to come. Your life’s work embodies what we hope our graduates achieve: a successful career combined with service to those in need and the community.”

Brown is the first woman of color to lead the ABA and is nationally known for speaking out to eliminate bias in the U.S. legal system and advocating for the advancement of diverse lawyers, including women. She was influential in the creation of the ABA’s Resolution 113, which aims to promote diversity within law firms and urges clients to expand opportunities for diverse lawyers. At the start of her term as ABA President, Brown formed the ABA’s Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission that examined the state of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, the judicial system and the ABA with the aim of formulating methods, policies, standards and practices to best advance diversity and inclusion.

Based in Locke Lord’s Morristown office, Brown is a Labor and Employment Partner and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. For nearly 40 years, Brown has focused her practice on all facets of labor and employment and commercial litigation. Prior to entering private practice, she held a number of positions, including in-house counsel to Fortune 500 companies and as a Municipal Court judge.

Brown has been recognized by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the prominent women and minority attorneys in the state of New Jersey and by the National Law Journal as one of "The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America." She has also repeatedly been named by U.S. News as one of the Best Lawyers in America in the area of Commercial Litigation. Brown was named to the EBONY Power 100 List in 2014 and one of the country’s “Most Influential Black Lawyers” by Savoy Magazine. In 2016, she was selected by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law to receive the Daniel J. O’Hearn Award for Professionalism and was also a New Jersey Law Journal Top Women in Law honoree.


About Locke Lord LLP
Locke Lord is a full-service, international law firm of more than 20 offices designed to meet clients’ needs around the world. The Firm has a history that spans more than 125 years and is a worldwide leader in the middle market sector. Locke Lord advises clients across a broad spectrum of industries including energy, financial services, fund formation, health care, insurance and reinsurance, private equity and venture capital, public finance, real estate, and technology, media and telecommunications, while providing a wealth of experience through its complex litigation, intellectual property, tax, regulatory and transactional teams.