In 2018, the Inaugural Esther F. Lardent Hall of Fame for Excellence in Pro Bono Award was presented to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on February 22, 2018 at a reception at the National Museum for Women in the Arts.
PBI was honored to present the inaugural Esther F. Lardent Hall of Fame for Excellence in Pro Bono Award to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Ginsburg was a deeply deserving recipient of the award for her decades of work to improve access to justice and pave the way for equal treatment for all people under the law.
Justice Ginsburg tenaciously pursued equal justice for all throughout her career. Her own experiences of gender discrimination throughout her life informed her later work championing equal treatment for women and members of other groups subjected to discrimination. She was one of nine women in her class at Harvard Law School and the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Despite her graduating tied for top of her class, finding employment as a law clerk was difficult because of her gender and status as a mother.
She taught at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School where she became the first tenured woman. She later co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first U.S. law journal to focus on women’s rights exclusively. As director and co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, she argued six cases before the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the Federal Bench in 1980, and to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, approaching her 25th anniversary as an associate justice.
Throughout her career and time on the Court, Justice Ginsburg made incredible strides for equal treatment on the basis of gender including her decision that influenced the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
The Justice was also a tireless advocate for increasing pro bono participation and support for legal aid services. While addressing the pro bono community, she once said, “Without Government prodding, you have taken the initiative to serve those without the wherewithal to pay for legal assistance. Your compensation is not monetary, but the large satisfaction one gains from helping to repair tears in society, making people’s lot a little better because of one’s aid.”
Watch as Justice Ginsburg accepts her award and gives remarks, and then chats with PBI Board Member Greg Jordan, PNC General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer.