Washington, D.C. (September 17, 2015) – The Association of American Law Schools is honoring Professor Herma Hill Kay, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, with the 2015 AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and the Law.
Spanning more than 50 years, Professor Kay’s career has been defined by her enormous contributions to teaching, scholarship, and leadership. Professor Kay started her career at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1960, at a time when there were few women law professors. She became dean of the law school in 1992 and served in that position until 2000.
Professor Kay has made many scholarly contributions to the legal profession, particularly in the areas of family law and conflict of laws. Most recently, she completed and is preparing for publication a book on women law professors in the United States during the 20th century, with an emphasis on the 14 women who began teaching prior to 1960.
Professor Kay is an active and effective participant in the women’s rights movement. She served on the California Governor’s Commission on the Family which encouraged the adoption of no-fault divorce in the state. Based on the committee’s recommendation, California became the first state to adopt a law of that kind in 1970. She also co-authored the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA) which has now become the standard for no-fault divorce nationwide. In addition, she testified in favor of California’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
In nominating Professor Kay for the award, colleagues have praised her commitment to her students and public service. “Herma Hill Kay has fought for women in legal education and fought for women in the legal system. She has nurtured countless young law professors in the field of family law, sex discrimination, and conflicts,” Professor Patricia A. Cain, Santa Clara University School of Law, stated. “She is a true hero of all that is good about law and legal education.”
Professor Kay will be the fourth AALS Triennial Award recipient. Previous recipients were Professor of Law and Counselor to the President, Vice Dean Norman Dorsen of New York University (2006); Judge, Professor, and former Dean Guido Calabresi of Yale Law School (2009); and the late Professor Derrick Bell of New York University School of Law (2012). The award will be presented during the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting, January 6-10 in New York City.