2017 Seabrook Chambers Public Lecture: Diversity in the Legal Profession: Reflections on Gender Equity and the Rule of Law
Free Public Lecture
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street, Carlton, 3053
T: 8344 1111
Free Public Lecture – 6.30 – 7.30 pm
Post-lecture reception – 7.30 - 8.00 pm
Diversity carries with it innumerable benefits for lawyers, litigants, and society more broadly. In ranking a country’s commitment to the rule of law, international organisations specifically consider the country’s treatment of women. And studies have shown that gender equality is correlated with lower levels of official corruption, greater economic output, improved labour productivity, and other positive measures of social development. Yet in many advanced nations, including the United States, a gap remains between our ideals and our reality. Women are underrepresented in the U.S. legal profession at large, and in the judiciary in particular. Despite great strides toward encouraging women to attend law school, few women make partner in large law firms or go on to become federal judges. Approximately two thirds of all active federal judges are men. But there is hope for more progress. Through mentoring young women, engaging in conversations about the importance of diversity, and encouraging women to seek judicial appointments, we can continue to bridge the gap between where we are and where we aspire to be.
The Honourable Allyson K. Duncan will present the 2017 Seabrook Chambers Lecture. Judge Duncan’s career has been marked for its series of “firsts.” She is the first African American woman and the first woman from North Carolina to sit on the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She was the first African American woman to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She was the first African American to serve as President of the North Carolina Bar Association, and only the third woman to do so.
The Honourable Allyson K. Duncan, Circuit Court Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
The Honourable Allyson K. Duncan
Circuit Court Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Government of the United States
Allyson K. Duncan was sworn into office as a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on August 15, 2003, after being nominated by President George W. Bush on April 28 and unanimously confirmed by the Senate on July 17. Judge Duncan received bipartisan support for and rapid consideration of her nomination to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2003. Senator John Edwards said of her on the chamber floor, “This is a woman of extraordinary intellect and skill, who loves the law, strives for justice, and never allows politics to interfere with her commitment to equality.” Judge Duncan’s career has been marked for its series of “firsts.” She is the first African American woman and the first woman from North Carolina to sit on the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She was the first African American woman to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She was the first African American to serve as President of the North Carolina Bar Association, and only the third woman to do so. Judge Duncan is active within the judiciary, her profession, and the community. Chief Justice John Roberts appointed her to chair the International Judicial Relations Committee of the United States Judicial Conference, which coordinates the international requests from other countries for judicial assistance. She serves as President of the Federal Judges Association, and in that role as a member of the International Association of Judges. She is a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees, serving as Chair of the Academic Affairs committee, and is on the Board of the Carolina Ballet. A graduate of Hampton University and Duke University School of Law, she is married to former U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Webb and they live in Raleigh, North Carolina.