William H. Brown, III Receives the A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Minority Bar CommitteeOn March 19, 2011 by Schnader in Alternative Dispute Resolution
William H. Brown, senior counsel with Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, was honored with the A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pennsylvania Bar Association Minority Bar Committee’s 23rd Annual Minority Attorney Conference, held March 17-18 at the Doubletree Hotel in Philadelphia. The award was presented during a luncheon on the second day of the conference.
The A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the accomplishments of a lawyer or judge who has demonstrated dedication to the legal profession and the minority community through civil, community or legal service. Judge Higginbotham, who died in 1998, was a civic leader, author, academic and federal appeals court judge who fought tirelessly against racial discrimination.
Mr. Brown is the former Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and is nationally known in the field of employment discrimination. During his tenure as Chairman (1969-1973), he took significant steps in establishing the Commission’s role in American life and in fighting discrimination, including: seeking to intercede in a telephone rate case being presented by AT&T to the Federal Communications Commission, asserting that because of discriminatory practices, costs for telephone services were higher than they would have been otherwise; securing the enforcement powers granted to the EEOC and lobbying for enhancement of the EEOC’s ability to address aggressively workplace employment discrimination, which came about following passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972; the establishment of five regional litigation centers – precursors to the EEOC District Offices – in Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Denver; the establishment of the Resource Allocation Program, which logically and systematically allocated the resources of the EEOC in a way that would allow the Commission to address issues of discrimination at every level, from large, national employers, to medium-sized regional employers, to small, local employers; and, the complete reorganization of the Commission and the promotion of minorities and women into senior executive-level positions.
Mr. Brown has been a trailblazer for minorities in the profession from the very beginning of his legal career. After his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, when faced with few options for employment at any of Philadelphia’s long established firms, Mr. Brown joined with a group of African American lawyers and formed what is considered by many to be Philadelphia’s first African-American law firm, Norris Schmidt Green Harris Higginbotham & Brown. He also served for some time as the Chief of the Fraud Unit and as a Deputy District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia.
After his time with the EEOC, Mr. Brown returned to private practice, joining Schnader. His practice includes employment law matters, as well as alternative dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration matters. He has served as a mediator for Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He also has served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since 1995.
Consistently respected for his experience, perspective, wisdom and dedication to the law, he frequently has been asked or chosen to play a role in important commissions and public working groups. Most notably, he served as chair of the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission that investigated the MOVE tragedy in 1985. He also was co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights from 1991-1993, and currently serves on the City of Philadelphia’s Board of Ethics, having been appointed by Mayor Nutter in December 2010.
Active within the profession, Mr. Brown is a Life Fellow of the American Law Institute and a Life Member of the National Bar Association, as well as a member of the International Academy of Trail Lawyers, a faculty member at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, a member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and a member of the American, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations. From 1983 to 2003, he served on the Board of Directors for United Parcel Service and was recognized as an Honorary Member of the UPS Corporate Legal Department in 2003. Additionally, he is active in multiple cultural, social and nonprofit organizations.
Mr. Brown has been recognized time and again as a leader in the profession, and has been listed for more than ten years with The Best Lawyers in America in the area of labor and employment law. He is also listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who Among African Americans, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, and The National Law Journal’s Who’s Who of Employment/Labor Lawyers. In 2000, Mr. Brown was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award of Merit from his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Also recognized for his commitment to public service, Mr. Brown has been honored to receive the Earl G. Harrison Pro Bono Award (2001), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Spirit of Partnership Award (2003), and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Lifetime Achievement Award (2004).
The Legal Intelligencer detailed Mr. Brown’s distinguished professional career and noted he was the recipient of the 2011 A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in a story published March 18, 2011.