The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association has issued the following statement.


NAPABA proudly congratulates Joan Haratani, a legendary and brilliant litigator who unequivocally embodies the very essence of the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award.

Joan Haratani

A partner at Morgan Lewis and former NAPABA Board member, Joan has consistently leveraged her position to mentor and open doors to promote justice and equality — core values of NAPABA. We are honored to have nominated Joan, an icon for Asian American women in the law.

Joan has used her familial experience to develop a voice that “speaks truth to power and to try to do one thing — just one thing — every day to build equality and justice.”

Her passion for justice started at a young age, when she would speak out against bullies who held anti-Japanese and anti-Asian sentiment. Later, she would rely on that courage to elevate women in the profession, drive her pro bono work, and commit herself to mentoring others. Joan became one of the youngest partners at her large private-practice law firm and one of the first Asian American women in the country to become a litigation partner.

Joan has led a truly distinguished career — breaking barriers and expectations, while paving the way for and mentoring gifted lawyers. Joan’s most last impacting on the profession will be through the multitude of diverse lawyers she has inspired and advised over her 30-year career. She believes that “the highest form of life is to be of service.”

Joan has mentored over 50 women lawyers and to this day she continues to mentor women and provide confidential career guidance to young attorneys. She has led the charge on programs within firms that empower young female attorneys with the skills needed to establish themselves and their practices.

By encouraging her mentees to share their knowledge with others, Joan hopes to create an expanded network through her one-on-one relationships, so the next generation of lawyers have even more support.

NAPABA invites you to join in celebration of Joan as she is recognized and honored during the American Bar Association virtual awards ceremony on Aug. 5. We will distribute registration details once available.

In addition to Joan, other honorees include Honorable Irma Gonzales, U.S. district judge (retired), San Diego; Joyce Hughes, professor, Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago; Pamela Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice; and Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon attorney general.


Margaret Brent was the first woman lawyer in America, arriving in the colonies in 1638. The Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, established by the Commission on Women in the Profession in 1991, recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of women lawyers who have excelled in their field and have paved the way to success for other women lawyers. Each year, the commission honors up to five outstanding women lawyers.

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