Civil Rights Leader, Legal Trailblazer Elaine Jones to
Lead Vermont Law School Martin Luther King, Jr. Presentation
South Royalton, VT (January 11, 2005) - Elaine R. Jones, the retired
president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational
Fund, Inc. (LDF), will lead Vermont Law School's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
observance. The campus celebration and presentation will take place on
Tuesday, January 18, in the Jonathon B. Chase Community Center from 12:45-2
PM and will be free and open to the public.
The LDF is the nation's oldest law firm fighting for equal rights and
justice for people of color, women, and the poor. When Ms. Jones took the
helm of the Legal Defense Fund in 1993, she became the first woman to head
After graduating with honors in political science from Howard University,
Ms. Jones joined the Peace Corps and became one of the first African
Americans to serve in Turkey. This began a long series of "firsts" in her
career. Following her two-year Peace Corps stint, she became the first black
woman to graduate from the University of Virginia School of Law, and
subsequently the first African American to serve on the board of governors
of the American Bar Association.
In her early years at LDF, Ms. Jones was one of the first African American
women to defend death row inmates. Only two years out of law school, she was
counsel of record in Furman v. Georgia, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case
that abolished the death penalty in 37 states. During this period, she also
argued numerous employment discrimination cases, including class actions
against some of the nation's largest employers (e.g., Patterson v. American
Tobacco Co., Stallworth v. Monsanto, and Swint v. Pullman Standard).
The presentation is sponsored by Vermont Law School's faculty, staff, and
the Student Diversity Committee; the Black Law Student Association; the
Vermont Law School Student Ambassadors; and President and Dean Geoffrey
Press Release Update, January 18, 2005: Ms. Jones spoke at Vermont
Law School's 1999 commencement ceremony, at which she received an honorary
doctor of laws degree.
LDF President Elaine R. Jones Prepares to Step Down
Tenure as President and Director-Counsel Scheduled to End May 1st
(New York, January 16, 2004) Elaine R. Jones today announced plans to step
down as President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), effective May 1. Her career with LDF, the
organization considered the legal arm of the civil rights movement that
branded public interest law, spanned 32 years.
In a career punctuated with a succession of firsts, Jones was the first
woman to hold the position created by LDF's founder Thurgood Marshall. With
the exception of her stint as Special Assistant to William T. Coleman,
former LDF Board Chairman, who served as Secretary of Transportation in the
Administration of President Gerald Ford, Jones has devoted her legal career
to LDF. Immediately after graduation from the University of Virginia Law
School, where she was the first African-American woman admitted, she joined
"I leave knowing that LDF will continue its push to create a nation truly
dedicated to equal justice," said Jones. "After more than 32 years, 11 of
them as Director-Counsel, I believe it is time for a change at LDF. I am
stepping down--not retiring--confident that change is a good thing. Change
is something we should all embrace. I am also convinced that more than one
person can lead, and it is time for new leadership." Jones adds: "I plan to
continue to advance LDF's litigation and other programs in any way the Board
and my successor deem helpful."
On behalf of the LDF Board of Directors, Co-Chairs Julius L. Chambers and
Martin D. Payson expressed their gratitude for Jones' outstanding service
and their satisfaction that, upon stepping down, Jones has agreed to be an
active presence in LDF programs and fundraising.
"Elaine Jones represents a huge presence whose leadership will be missed
greatly. She has left a history of leadership at LDF that will challenge any
successor," said Payson.
"As President and Director-Counsel, Elaine Jones expanded LDF's litigation
into new areas such as health care and environmental justice, while keeping
the organization focused on its core work in education, voting rights,
economic access and criminal justice. Under her leadership LDF took on the
big cases such as the University of Michigan and Tulia, Texas, and she
brought home victories.
"Elaine's departure on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Brown reminds us
that both a legacy and a future drive our mission. As we have done with
former LDF leaders Jack Greenberg and Julius Chambers, we will continue to
draw from Elaine's indomitable passion and energy to build upon the many
civil rights advances secured since the Brown victory and during her
During more than three decades at LDF, Jones has been pivotal in defining
civil rights laws and policies. She began her career representing death row
defendants in the South and was counselor of record in Furman v. Georgia.
That 1972 Supreme Court ruling overturned the sentences of 629 death row
defendants because of racial bias in the sentencing process.
Criminal justice has remained a priority for Jones who personally directed a
successful clemency campaign on behalf of an incarcerated young woman, Kemba
Smith, to underscore overincarceration and draconian federal mandatory
minimum sentencing guidelines.
During 14 years as LDF's Chief Public Policy Advocate in Washington, D.C.,
Jones shepherded the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Act of 1992 and
scores of other significant congressional and executive branch policies.
Capitalizing on the institutional prestige of the nation's most venerable
civil rights law firm, Jones and LDF have directly shaped the contours of
civil rights jurisprudence, equal educational opportunity, fair housing,
voting rights and political empowerment, and the administration of criminal
justice. Only the Justice Department has been involved in more cases before
the United States Supreme Court.
Jones has selected Law Day for her departure, pointing to the rule of law
and the constitutional principles that enshrine LDF's advocacy. "That we are
a nation of laws is what makes our society great," Jones professes.
"LDF has always worked to resolve the disconnect between our Constitutional
principles and our unjust practices. Brown was a significant achievement. It
ended legal apartheid but it also signaled the beginning of the long and
often difficult tasks ahead in our quest for simple justice."
The American Lawyer Announces Winners of Its Second Annual Lifetime
Achievement Awards New York Lawyer
February 3, 2005
NEW YORK -- ALM's The American Lawyer yesterday announced the recipients of
its second annual Lifetime Achievement Awards. This year's award honorees
are: Brooksley E. Born, Arnold & Porter; John J. Curtin Jr., Bingham
McCutchen; James Ellis and William H. Gates, Preston Gates & Ellis; John J.
Gibbons, Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione; Ben W. Heinemann,
Jr., General Electric; Elaine Jones, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational
Fund; and R. Sargent Shriver, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.
These individuals, as well as the law firms selected last fall for the
magazine's 2004 "A-List" ranking, will be honored at a gala dinner on March
30 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
"The American Lawyer's Lifetime Achievement Awards, established last year,
recognize distinguished attorneys, selected by the editors of the magazine,
for their career accomplishments in both private practice and public
service," said Aric Press, editor in chief. "We believe these individuals
represent examples to the profession, and we look forward to honoring them
in person next month."
The recipients include: Brooksley E. Born, Arnold & Porter -- One of the
leaders of the groundbreaking generation of women lawyers, Born made partner
while working part-time; led, directed or founded many of the women's legal
groups in D.C.; and maintained a top derivatives practice.
John J. Curtin Jr., Bingham McCutchen -- His firm's long-time lead
litigator, Curtin has started, supported, and fought for legal services
programs nationally and regionally. People and groups in trouble always knew
they could call Curtin and receive help.
James Ellis and William H. Gates, Preston Gates & Ellis -- In the private
sector, these two individuals put together Seattle's biggest law firm. In
the public sector, Ellis sought to protect the environment in the Pacific
Northwest, while Gates promoted a model public service program for the state
bar. In retirement, Gates has found important work at his son's foundation.
John J. Gibbons, Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione – The
retired chief judge of the Third Circuit, Gibbons returned to an active
private practice that includes significant pro bono work. Last year, he
argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of inmates held without counsel
Ben W. Heineman, Jr., General Electric -- Heineman is credited with
inventing the role of the modern general counsel, building a global in-house
department that rivals many private firms. He helped found the Pro Bono
Partnership which helps in-house lawyers find pro bono projects.
R. Sargent Shriver, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson – Before he
became a big-firm name partner, Shriver had an astonishing public career
which included, among other things, organizing the Peace Corps and directing
the War on Poverty. In the latter role, he funded legal services
organizations around the nation and founded the National Clearinghouse for
Legal Services, now the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
Each year, the awards honor one lawyer whose entire career has been spent
in public service. This year's honoree is Elaine Jones, the retired
president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the nation's
leading civil rights law office.