Hillary Clinton to receive American Bar Association’s highest honor

Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (AP Photo)

The American Bar Association announced Friday that it would award its highest honor to Hillary Rodham Clinton, recognizing the former secretary of state for her legal career and for helping women lawyers advance.

The ABA, which represents more than 400,000 lawyers nationwide, will honor Clinton with the ABA Medal at its annual meeting on Aug. 12 in San Francisco. Before serving more than three decades in public life, Clinton, a graduate of Yale Law School, worked as a counsel on the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation and also was an attorney in private practice in Arkansas.

“For Hillary Clinton’s immense accomplishments as a lawyer, the strides she made for women both professionally and civically, and for promoting the interests of the U.S. and human rights abroad, she not only deserves this honor, but also the gratitude of the legal profession and the nation,” ABA president Laurel G. Bellows said in a statement.

Clinton, who stepped down as secretary of state on Feb. 1, is racking up a number of accolades this year as she returns to a more private life. A possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, she is writing a book this year and pursuing charitable initiatives at the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

In September, Clinton will be honored both by the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization she once chaired, and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, chaired by former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- a possible 2016 presidential contender on the Republican side.

Clinton will join a distinguished group of ABA Medal recipients, including Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy and former justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thurgood Marshall and Felix Frankfurter.

In its announcement about honoring Clinton, the ABA noted her volunteer work during law school taking on cases of child abuse at the Yale-New Haven Hospital and at New Haven Legal Services. The group also cited her pro-bono child advocacy at her Arkansas law firm, where she was its first female full partner. And, as a member of the ABA, the group said, Clinton helped women advance in the legal profession.

“The many triumphs of Secretary Clinton’s career in the law and public service inspire generations of young women as they walk through the doors that she opened for them,” Bellows said in the statement.

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Aaron Blake · June 28, 2013