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In August, Paulette Brown will be come The American Bar Association’s first black female to be appointed president. Brown will become president-elect for one year before taking the helm in 2015.  A native of Baltimore, Brown attended Howard University with aspirations of becoming a social worker, but decided on a legal profession.

Brown graduated from Seton Hall University Law School and has been practicing law for 38 years. She currently specializes in labor, employment and litigation in a New Jersey firm where she’s a partner.

“When I first started going to court and so forth,” said Brown, “I had the usual experiences. ‘Are you the defendant? Are you the court reporter? Are you the plaintiff? No? Well then, who are you then?’ It never occurred to them that I could be the lawyer.”

Brown still says people aren’t accustomed to seeing high powered black women and was even asked if she was a flight attendant during a plane ride recently.

“My father always said there were no girl jobs and no boy jobs,” said Brown. “My brother had to wash dishes and clean up just like we did—and my father did too. He did laundry, he cooked, he did everything. And he went to work every day.”

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