In Memoriam

January 25, 2021

Professor Deborah L. Rhode

The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics grieves the passing of Deborah L. Rhode, an enormously accomplished and pioneering scholar in the field of legal ethics. She was especially committed to the advancement of women’s rights, a cause she advanced with passionate conviction and a dedication to justice. Here at GJLE, we will remember her as a trusted colleague, confidant, mentor, and friend to many in the field of legal ethics.

An Illinois native and 1977 graduate of Yale Law School, Rhode’s legal career spanned nearly fifty years, during which time she was steadfastly dedicated to integrity in all aspects of public service. After clerking for United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, she joined the faculty at Stanford Law School in 1979, where she was the second woman to be granted academic tenure. Throughout her career, she published numerous books and articles focusing on the intersection of legal ethics, leadership, gender studies, racial equality, access to justice, pro bono representation, and the impact of technological advancements. Her students and fellow academics will remember her for her intellect and personal discipline–but also for her encouragement, humor, and sage advice–for many years to come.

Her professional accolades include the White House Champion of Change Award, the American Bar Association Michael Franck Award, the American Bar Foundation W. M. Keck Foundation Award, the American Foundation’s Distinguished Scholar Award, the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award. In 2003, Stanford Law School established the Deborah L. Rhode Public Interest Award in her honor for graduating students demonstrating outstanding non-scholarly public service during their law school career.

Rhode passed away on Friday, January 8, 2021. She was sixty-eight years old. The Deborah L. Rhode Pro Bono Fund at Stanford Law School, which provides integral pro bono services to the community, is accepting donations in her honor.