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Release: Immediate
Media Contact: Nick Michna
Phone: 322/988-5574
Contact: Debbie Weixl
Phone: 312/988-6126

Judge Bernice B. Donald to Receive ABA Liberty Achievement Award

CHICAGO, June 13, 2008 — The American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section will present its inaugural Liberty Achievement Award to U.S. District Court Judge Bernice B. Donald of Memphis, Tenn. The Liberty Achievement Award raises awareness of the importance of diversifying the legal profession by honoring lawyers and judges who actively promote diversity within the legal community.   There are two recipients of the inaugural award. The awards will be presented to Donald and Catherine A. Christian of New York City, at the ABA’s 2008 Annual Meeting in New York City on Friday, August 8, during the section’s gala to celebrate diversity and opportunity, Generation to Generation, to be held on Ellis Island from 7- 10 p.m.

Section Chair Peter Bennett of Portland, Maine, said of Donald, “It is with great honor and enthusiasm that TIPS presents this award to Bernice Donald.  Throughout her career, she has been committed to actively promoting diversity and working to ensure that the legal profession reflects the society it serves. Judge Donald has always been a ‘first’ – as a lawyer, as a judge, as an active member of the bar.  By her example, she inspires others to excel in the profession and serve their communities.”

Donald was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and has served there since January 1996.  Prior to that, she was a member of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee and General Sessions Criminal Court.  She received her law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law, where she has served as an adjunct faculty member.  Donald is on the faculty for the Federal Judicial Center and the National Judicial College.

Donald is an active member of the ABA. She is the secretary-elect of the association, and will assume the position of secretary for a three-year term at the close of the ABA Annual Meeting this August. She is the first African-American woman to assume this position.  Donald is a former member of the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates, and is a member of the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal.  She is also a member of the Council of the Litigation Section and is a former member of the Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Legal Profession. 

Donald is a member of the board of directors of the Federal Judicial Center.  In 1996, Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed Donald to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules. She is active in the American, Tennessee and Memphis Bar Associations, serving in vital leadership roles in key groups.   

Donald has lectured and written extensively on various legal topics, including “Fraud Imputation Under Section 523(a)(2)(A): Is A Partner Liable for Wrongdoing by the Partnership,” Memphis State University Law Review, 1994; “The Dischargeability of Property Settlement Hold Harmless Agreements in Bankruptcy: An Overview of Section 523(a)(15),” Family Law Quarterly, 1997; and “A Comparative Justice Project - United States, German and China Trial Demonstration,” Judges Journal, 2001.

Donald is active in numerous legal organizations including serving as president of the National Association of Women Judges and the Association of Women Attorneys and chair of the Memphis Diversity Institute.  Donald is the recipient of more than 100 awards for professional, civic and community activities, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Memphis.

The ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section unites plaintiff, defense, insurance and corporate counsel to advance the civil justice system.  TIPS is a national source of expertise in tort, trial and insurance practice and brings lawyers together to share information and speak out on issues of importance.  The section has more than 35,000 members and 34 general committees that focus on substantive and procedural matters in areas across the broad spectrum of civil law and practice.  For more information about the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section visit the TIPS Web site,

With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Editors Note: Reporters are invited to attend the Generation to Generation event at the ABA Annual Meeting, but must obtain ABA press credentials and preregister for the event with Debbie Weixl of ABA Media Relations. Media credentials for the ABA meeting can be obtained at the ABA Press Room at the New York Hilton Hotel during the ABA Annual Meeting Aug. 7-12 or by contacting Deborah Weixl, ABA Division for Media Relations and Communication Services at 312/988-6126 or e-mail  On site call 847/902-9019.


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