Judith Scott, 2015 Woman Lawyer of the Year
Judith A. Scott, General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is the 2015 WBA Woman Lawyer of the Year. She was recognized at the organization’s Annual Dinner on May 20, 2015, in Washington, DC. The Woman Lawyer of the Year Award recognizes a leader who has championed change in the profession by leading by example, advocating for justice, and promoting the advancement of women in the profession.
Ms. Scott, one of America’s top labor lawyers, currently serves as General Counsel to SEIU, the largest labor union in the private sector and second largest overall. SEIU represents over two million health care workers, public employees, janitors and other workers in the property services industry. Over 50 percent of its members are women. With addressing economic inequality as one of its top priorities, SEIU’s organizing efforts focus on immigrants and low-wage workers, such as homecare and childcare workers, who are often in jobs outside the protection of basic labor laws. In addition to her position at SEIU, Ms. Scott is a partner in the well-recognized labor law firm of James & Hoffman P.C.
For over 40 years, Ms. Scott has held key positions in a wide range of public and private sector unions, including: the United Mine Workers of America; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the United Auto Workers of America; and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. She is the first and only woman to serve as General Counsel to two major international labor unions. Over the course of her career, she has given special attention to issues affecting women workers, including her work on the passage and implementation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and later, the Family and Medical Leave Act; confronting workplace reproductive health hazards and related discrimination; support for women entering non-traditional jobs in the industrial sector; and winning pay equity and a living wage for workers in the service sector.
Her career has included national negotiations at the major auto companies while at the United Auto Workers; representation of the United Mine Workers in its historic campaigns for coalfield justice at A.T. Massey and Pittston Coal Companies; spearheading innovative legal approaches to gaining access to collective bargaining for low wage workers; voting rights work affecting communities of color and global campaigns involving worker justice at major multi-national corporations. She has lectured widely on labor law matters, including being selected for the Henry Kaiser lecture at Georgetown University School of Law and the annual lecture for Robert Preiskel and Leon Silverman Program on the Practicing Lawyer and Public Interest at Yale Law School.
Throughout her career, Ms. Scott has been generous with two precious commodities: her time and her experience. She is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the National Partnership for Women and Families and also on the Boards of the Alliance for Justice and the American Constitution Society. She served as co-chair of the ABA International Labor and Employment Law Committee from 2007 until 2010, and as a presidential appointee to the Advisory Committee to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation in the Clinton administration.
Ms. Scott places a priority on mentorship and supporting women lawyers entering the social justice movement. Ms. Scott is credited with earning a place at the table for women and working family issues in the male-dominated industries in which she worked for decades – the auto, mining, and trucking industries. Judy Lichtman, former president and now senior advisor to the National Partnership for Women and Families, refers to Ms. Scott as “a spectacular mentor of women lawyers, both new to the profession and more experienced.”
Ms. Scott is a 1974 graduate of Northeastern Law School and received her BA from Wellesley College in 1971.