The Margaret Brent Award, given by the ABA
Five women lawyers, including Judge Judy Gertner, Marissa Wesely, Stasia Kelly, Allie Latimer and Kathryn Doi Todd, will receive the 2014 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award on Aug. 10 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston during the ABA Annual Meeting.
Since 1991, The ABA Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award has been honoring women lawyers who have achieved excellence in their specialty and have paved the way for others. Previous award honorees include Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The award is named after Margaret Brent, the first woman lawyer in America, who arrived to the colonies in 1638 and was involved in 124 court cases in more than eight years, winning every case.
Wesely’s interest in leveling the playing field for women began at age 10, when she attempted to sign up for carpentry in junior high school and was told that girls were required to take home economics instead. This exposed Wesley at a young age to some obstacles that women have faced in their efforts to achieve equality, obstacles that Wesley has worked tirelessly to break down throughout her career. After graduating magna cum laude from Williams College, Wesley attended Harvard Law School, graduating cum laude. Following a summer associate position at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in 1979, she worked for the firm for the next 33 years, becoming one of the firm’s first female partners in 1989. Recognizing the limited networks for women in the male-dominated legal field, she created the Kate Stoneman Project, a forum for women partners from major New York law firms to address issues of common concern relating to the advancement of women in the profession.
Further, Stasia Kelly, Co-Managing Partner (Americas) at DLA Piper, is a recipient award as well. The daughter of a Boston police officer, Kelly was the first in her family to attend college, graduating cum laude and eventually enrolling in a night program at George Washington University Law School, where she graduated. After making partner seven years into her legal career, she moved to the first of four general counsel roles, where she focused on helping companies through crises and building effective legal frameworks. Later, she joined Fannie Mae as general counsel, while also serving as SVP where she had the opportunity to demonstrate her leadership skills and to cultivate successful teams. She was recruited as general counsel to three additional major public companies, including Sears and MCI/WorldCom, where she helped lead the team that brought MCI out of bankruptcy and restructured the business. She joined AIG in September 2006 as executive vice president, general counsel and chief regulatory and compliance officer, and three years later became vice chairman, serving with AIG through the financial crisis.