On September 25, Judge Carol Brosnahan and Judge Winifred Smith will be honored as Women Jurists of Distinction by the Women Lawyers of Alameda County in California. We at NITA are pleased to personally salute Judge Brosnahan on these honors.
The Brosnahan family has been important to NITA for many years. The judge’s husband, leading trial lawyer and senior partner James J. Brosnahan of Morrison & Foerster, is a highly respected leader in our NITA community. He has served continuously as a long-time trustee and emeritus trustee, a leading and active faculty member, and member of the NITA Advocates Society. The family has been generous in supporting NITA and its missions to improve justice through teaching the art of advocacy, domestically and in certain international venues.
As detailed in various news features and articles, Judge Brosnahan turned to a legal career “almost by accident” fifty-seven years ago, when women were not accepted at Harvard Business School. But Harvard Law had begun to admit women, and Carol joined a class of 500—she being just one of nine women. She thus launched her career in a challenging profession that was then a man’s world.
In the early days, Judge Brosnahan exhibited her likely future success by working hard, and remained prepared to walk through doors as they gradually opened to her. Appointed to the Alameda County bench in 1979, she continues an active caseload carrying 100 to 150 cases. Her judicial leadership is admired in the community. For example, in September 2012, she chose a sentence for a single father administered by electronic monitoring rather than incarceration—a thoughtful choice that apparently takes account of destructive risk to his children from incarceration.
As the senior woman jurist on the Alameda County Court, Judge Brosnahan serves as mentor and role model among women lawyers, particularly recognizing its dedicated public defenders and district attorneys. With its Annual Judges’ Dinner and Silent Auction, the Women Lawyers of Alameda County recognize her importance to the profession, the bench, and women lawyers. The reception and silent auction at The Faculty Club at UC Berkeley begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner and the panel discussion. Click here for more information on the event.