Judy and Jim Brown Establish Judith Olans Brown Forum for Women in the Law at Northeastern Law

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09.08.21 — Northeastern University School of Law has received a gift of $500,000 from Professor Emerita Judith Olans Brown and her husband, Jim Brown, to establish the Judith Olans Brown Forum for Women in the Law. The Brown Forum will expand upon the success of the law school’s signature Women in the Law Conference, now in its 14th year, which has brought together thousands of women lawyers and other professionals for annual conferences that feature nationally recognized speakers and include dynamic programming that inspires women to achieve and advocate for themselves in their professional journeys. The Brown Forum will also launch affiliated programming related to advancing the careers of women lawyers.

“Judy and Jim Brown have been benefactors and visionaries for our Women in the Law program since its inception,” said Dean James Hackney. “We jokingly refer to Judy as the ‘grandmother’ of Women in the Law because she co-founded the program, but she has been so much more: a role model, an advocate and an extraordinary mentor, both when she served on our faculty and into her well-deserved retirement. We are beyond grateful that Judy and Jim are ensuring the future of Women in the Law through this generous gift.”

Judy Brown graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1962 and from Boston College Law School in 1965. She won numerous academic honors at both schools and was the articles editor of the Boston College Law Review. She was one of the first women to serve as a law clerk to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, to be appointed to the board of directors of the Boston Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and to achieve the position of tenured professor at Northeastern University School of Law, where she taught for almost 30 years. Her scholarly focus was on equality for women and people of color and her efforts in the classroom and the courtroom to expand legal and civil rights for women and minorities defined her professional life. In addition to traditional scholarship, she drafted numerous civil rights statutes and authored several amicus briefs in her areas of expertise.

As a faculty member, and since her retirement from Northeastern in 2000, Judy Brown has been a passionate advocate for the advancement of women attorneys and students from Northeastern Law. In 2013, she was selected by the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts to receive the prestigious Lelia J. Robinson Award. Since her formal retirement, she has taught constitutional law in the continuing education programs at Dartmouth College and the University of Arizona.

Jim Brown was a member of Harvard College’s class of 1964 and went on to graduate from the University of Colorado Law School in 1968. He was a partner in the Boston law firm of Foley & Hoag for more than 30 years. He also served as chair of the Boston Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Together, the Browns share a lifelong commitment to civil rights and equality and a concern that although discrimination still needs to be vigorously challenged the resources to wage that war are dwindling. Their gift will reinforce the School of Law’s status as a leader in educating, developing and supporting the advancement of women attorneys and the profession at large.

“My particular delight at Northeastern Law was working with a community of amazing women, students and colleagues alike, who used their skills and passion to reconfigure gender myths and to rewrite and normalize new cultural understanding and power dynamics,” said Judy Brown. “Those efforts are even more challenging today now that the Supreme Court has turned its back on equality. Increasingly enthralled by its fantasy that discrimination no longer exists, the majority of the Supreme Court no longer understands that the mission of the federal courts is to protect the powerless. Jim and I are making this gift to support the effort to create more diverse and nuanced legal understandings about gender. It is also my own way of thanking the brilliant women that I have taught, learned from, and learned with over the years.”

This gift will grow within the Brown Fund, which was established at the time of Judy’s retirement and has received significant funding through contributions from the Browns as well as colleagues, graduates of the law school and other friends. Additional contributions to the Brown Fund are welcome at giving.northeastern.edu/live/profiles/1175-judith-olans-brown-forum-for-women-in-the-law-fund.

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students unparalleled practical legal work experiences. All students participate in full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 1,500 employers worldwide participating in the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.

For more information, contact d.feldman@northeastern.edu