Hon. Pamila J. Brown
Howard County District Court
Howard County District Administrative Judge Pamila J. Brown had notecards made up with the saying “Lifting as we climb.”
“That is really my mantra,” she said. “I stood on the shoulders of so many people to get to where I am and I hope that I am continuing to uplift the people rising to greater heights than I have risen by making a path for them.”
Her love of the law began as a freshman at Bel Air High School when she attended the trial of controversial civil rights figure H. Rap Brown for inciting to riot. She was mesmerized by the work of defense attorney William M. Kunstler, seeing how his low and deep voice grabbed a hold of the courtroom. She sat on the floor before being ushered out of the courtroom, she recalls. Brown has pictures of both the inside and outside of the courthouse and looks at them every day in her chamber.
“I saw where lawyers could really make a difference,” she said. “At the time I was growing up, I knew of no women lawyers. I didn’t know any women lawyers of color, Thurgood Marshall hadn’t been appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I didn’t really know any lawyers of color.”
Brown graduated from Macalester College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and from the University of Baltimore School of Law. She worked as director of inmate legal services at the Baltimore City Jail, assistant city solicitor in Baltimore and as an assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General. In 2002, she became an associate judge in Howard County District Court and was named administrative judge last year. In 2015, she was named the first African-American woman to lead the Maryland State Bar Association.
Brown credits her success great mentors who encouraged her in the practice of law and related bar activities, a hard work ethic along with tenacity and a love of people.
When she started out in the legal profession, there were not many women in the profession who had made partner.
“The glass ceiling was front and center and especially for women of color,” she said. “The profession wasn’t very welcoming in the beginning, and over time I think it has become exceedingly welcoming from our law students through the highest echelons of public practice and private practice. Now it is not unusual that we have women partners. At the time I graduated, it was. There weren’t any.”
Brown hopes that her legacy will be that she made a positive impact in whatever she was doing at the time, whether it was at MSBA, as a law student or active in the community.
“That I tried to make a difference and I tried to bring people along with me,” she said.
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