President-Elect Paulette Brown with former Chief Judge Robert Bell at ABA annual meeting in Boston.

Paulette Brown began her one-year term as president-elect of the American Bar Association Aug. 12 at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston.

The move is a historic one – Brown is the first African-American female to hold the position in the group’s 136-year history. She will serve one year as president-elect before becoming ABA president in August 2015.

“It was a historic day,” said Judge (Ret.) Marcella Holland, who was on hand to watch the event. Holland is a close friend of Brown’s and former Baltimore City Eighth Circuit Court judge.

“It was such a joyous occasion. It just sent chills down my spine.”

She said that lawyers who don’t usually attend ABA meetings travelled to Boston just to be at the ceremony.

“It was quite a showing of African American support,” Holland said. “It will be an even bigger celebration next year.”

Holland also said that she knows Brown will make diversity a key part of her tenure.

“She is very organized; she is a determined person; she has a passion for access to justice and equality in justice.”

Browns’ other accolades include having been recognized by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the prominent women and minority attorneys in the State of New Jersey and by the National Law Journal as one “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.”

US News named Brown one of the Best Lawyers in America in the area of commercial litigation. In 2009, she received the Spirit of Excellence Award from the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity; in 2011, the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

Brown earned her J.D. at Seton Hall University School of Law and her B.A. at Howard University.