January 08, 2018

Honorary Graduate Appointed to Oregon Supreme Court

Lewis & Clark Law School 2011 Distinguished Honorary Graduate and adjunct professor Adrienne Nelson was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court by Governor Kate Brown.
  • Intisar Abioto

Lewis & Clark Law School 2011 Distinguished Honorary Graduate and adjunct professor Adrienne Nelson was appointed as a Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court by Governor Kate Brown. Formerly serving as a trial judge in Multnomah Country, Judge Nelson is the second woman of color to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court, and the first African American to serve on the state’s high court. 

“We heartily congratulate Judge Nelson on this appointment,” said Dean Jennifer Johnson. “It is a testament to her excellent record as a trial judge and her many contributions to the community.”

Law professor and Lewis & Clark College Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Janet Steverson noted Judge Nelson’s active involvement with the law school. “She has been, and continues to be, engaged with Lewis & Clark  at many levels. She has taught as an adjunct professor, served as a speaker at events, served on informational panels and has been a fantastic mentor to quite a few of our law students.”

In addition, Judge Nelson serves as the Chair of the Law School’s Roosevelt Robinson Minority Scholarship Committee, which annually awards scholarship funds to a student or students who demonstrate interest in and commitment to increasing the ethnic diversity of the Oregon Bar.

In her announcement, Governor and alumna Kate Brown ’85 stated that, “Judge Nelson brings to our highest court an important new voice and wealth of experience she has gained in twelve years on the trial bench. In addition to her work in the courtroom, she has made extraordinary strides to make the trial bench more receptive to the needs and experiences of diverse and underserved communities in our state. Judge Nelson is a widely respected civil rights champion, whose perspective on the bench moves us closer to our shared vision of justice for all.”

Judge Nelson has received the Multnomah Bar Association’s Award of Merit and the Oregon State Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Award. She is active in the American Bar Association, where she is the Oregon State Delegate and has served on various committees including the Commission on Disability Rights and the Committee on Public Education. She is board chair of Self Enhancement, Inc. and sits on the Oregon Community Foundation Metropolitan Portland Leadership Council, the Reed College Board of Trustees, the Oregon Supreme Court Council on Inclusion and Fairness, and the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Advisory Board. Finally, she has served as president of Queen’s Bench (the Portland chapter of Oregon Women Lawyers).