Georgetown Law Professors Add Luster to Federal Bench

January 22, 2015 —

On Friday, January 16, Pamela A. Harris — a former visiting professor at Georgetown Law and a former executive director of the Supreme Court Institute — was formally sworn in as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, becoming the second Law Center faculty member to join the federal appellate courts in recent years. Cornelia T.L. Pillard, who served as a professor at Georgetown Law until her confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was sworn in to that court in March 2014.

“We are delighted that our colleagues, Pam and Nina, have been asked to take on these important roles,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, noting that Harris and Pillard both bring an outstanding record of credentials to the bench. “While we miss them in the classroom, we know that the same qualities that made them outstanding advocates, teachers and scholars will serve them equally well in the judiciary, as they work to strengthen the pursuit of justice.”

According to the Federal Judicial Center’s Directory of Federal Judges, more than two dozen of the women jurists who have served on the U.S. Courts of Appeals to date have teaching credentials from U.S. law schools, acting as full-time professors, adjuncts, visiting professors, lecturers and even a dean at some point in their legal careers. While several law schools have seen two or more of their women scholars serve as federal appeals judges at the same time as each other, Georgetown Law is proud to have made such a distinguished list.

President Barack Obama nominated Harris to Fourth Circuit in May 2014, noting that “throughout her career, Pamela Harris has shown unwavering integrity and an outstanding commitment to public service.” The president nominated Pillard to the D.C. Circuit in June 2013, remarking that her career "has been defined by an unshakeable commitment to the public good" and that once confirmed, she would "continue the D.C. Circuit's strong tradition of distinguished scholars going on to serve as judges — from Antonin Scalia to Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

Harris served as visiting professor at the Law Center between 2007-2010 and 2012-2014 and was executive director of Georgetown Law’s Supreme Court Institute from 2009-2010. She was principal deputy to the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy from 2010 to 2012. 

Until 2009, Harris was a partner and of counsel at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers. Earlier in her career, she served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and Judge Harry T. Edwards of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She earned her J.D. from Yale.

Pillard served on the Georgetown Law’s full-time faculty from 1997 until her appointment to the D.C. Circuit. She served as faculty co-director of the Georgetown Law Supreme Court Institute and an academic co-director and professor at the Center for Transnational Legal Studies. 

Pillard took leave from Georgetown Law to serve as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1998 to 2000. She served as assistant to the solicitor general of the United States from 1994 to 1997, before which she was a litigator with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. After earning a J.D. from Harvard, Pillard clerked for Judge Louis H. Pollak of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

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