Remembering Joan Dempsey Klein

Written by National Association of Women Judges|December 30, 2020|News


Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, as co-founder and first President of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) had a profound impact on the judiciary and on women in the legal profession.  NAWJ was founded because of the absence of women on the bench and to address the gender bias and discrimination that women judges experienced.  Due to her vision and advocacy, the face of the judiciary has changed. Justice Klein was a mentor and inspiration to women and diverse members of the legal community. Her list of honors and awards is extremely long, yet she was always approachable, kind and encouraging. 

Some of the programs that NAWJ has embarked on as a result of Justice Klein’s vision include: education and advocacy for women subjected to domestic violence; judicial education on issues related to human trafficking/modern day slavery; conditions for women in prison; issues facing immigrants in the court system; and, encouraging women and girls to pursue in careers in the law and the judiciary. NAWJ annually presents the Joan Dempsey Klein award to a member who has assisted women judges to become more proficient in their profession, helped to solve the legal, social and ethical problems associated with the judiciary, and worked to increase the number of women serving as judges, all ideals possessed by Justice Klein.

In NAWJ, Justice Klein and Justice Vaino Spencer created an organization that reflected the friendship and respect that the two had for one another. That legacy continues through the opportunity to meet and work with outstanding women judges who recognize that we have the power and responsibility to make important changes in law and our communities.  The strength of the organization that they founded is not only the encouraging, supportive network of women judges from around the country, but also that we can speak with a united voice on key issues that impact women and women judges.

Click here to submit your own tribute to Justice Joan Dempsey Klein.


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