UDC Law’s Katherine Broderick Named 2020 Marshall Award Winner

By John Murph

March 31, 2020

The D.C. Bar has named Katherine Shelley Broderick, a professor at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) David A. Clarke School of Law, as the recipient of its 2020 Thurgood Marshall Award. The award honors D.C. Bar members who have exhibited a tremendous commitment and initiative in pursuing equal justice and opportunity for all Americans. 

FINALBroderick-nomination-materials[1]“Thurgood Marshall is my legal hero, the Zeus in my pantheon of legal gods and goddesses,” Broderick says. “An honor in his name — and from the D.C. Bar, of which I have proudly been a member for 42 years — means the world to me.” 

Broderick led UDC Law between August 1998 and June 2018, starting as interim dean. She began her academic career at the law school in 1979 as a faculty member, then as clinical director and associate dean. During her 20 years as dean, UDC Law secured the highest level of American Bar Association accreditation. Broderick also supervised the law school’s nine legal clinics that serve the needs of thousands of low-income D.C. residents. 

 Among her many other professional accomplishments, Broderick is a founder of the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers, which aims to expand and improve the delivery of legal services to the District’s underserved population. She also chairs the District Task Force on Jails & Justice, established to reinvent the local corrections system to ensure jail time is only one part of an equitable criminal justice system. She has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capital and DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice. 

Broderick hosts Sound Advice, a UDC cable TV show that provides information about legal issues that disproportionally affect the District’s most vulnerable residents such as predatory lending, domestic violence, the AIDS crisis, and the city’s abuse and neglect system.  

“Marshall was a strategic genius and a gifted and courageous lawyer who took his talents into the racist Deep South and represented poor and vulnerable people of color who had no hope without him. In so doing he put his life on the line every day,” Broderick says. “While I have spent my career working to expand legal educational opportunities for those underrepresented in the profession and to improve, increase, and coordinate legal services for those who could not otherwise afford them in D.C., I have done my work protected by racial privilege and by a multiracial and multiethnic D.C. legal community that honors and fully supports such efforts.” 

“I have also had the joy of working at UDC Law, a uniquely social justice-driven law school with a merry band of passionate and dedicated poverty lawyers and with extraordinary legal services providers who have changed the legal landscape for the better in our city. Thus, while I am not worthy, I am humbled and deeply honored to receive this award in Thurgood Marshall’s name. I accept it on behalf of the wonderful lawyers with whom I have been privileged to spend my career.” 

Established in 1993, the Thurgood Marshall Award is presented biennially (alternating with the William J. Brennan Jr. Award) to a D.C. Bar member who has demonstrated excellence in and dedication to the field of civil rights and individual liberties.