Elizabeth J. Cabraser’s generous gift is helping the Equal Justice Society reactivate its Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship. Ms. Cabraser, who funded the 2001 conference that led to the founding of EJS, pledged to fund the fellowship for five years.
“Our deep and profound gratitude to Elizabeth Cabraser for her funding of the Motley Fellowship,” said EJS President Eva Paterson. “Liz’s incredibly generous donation means that EJS can play an even stronger role in fighting back against the growing oppression and cruelty that are threatening the fabric of our country and indeed the world. Thank you so much.”
EJS established the Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship in 2006 to nurture the talents of a new generation of progressive lawyers to transform anti-discrimination law and policy.
Judge Motley (September 14, 1921-September 28, 2005) was the first African American woman to serve on the federal bench and the first African American woman to serve as chief judge.
“Judge Motley played a major role in the ongoing effort to end racial injustice in this country,” said Paterson. “Her incredible life is not only marked by how many barriers she broke on behalf of women and Black Americans, but also the considerable legal skills and talents she brought in numerous cases she filed and won as well as to the numerous cases she heard on the bench. When Judge Motley heard about the goals of EJS at a conference of Black federal judges in 2008, she said ‘Now I can relax’ – a sentiment that has motivated us to be our best.”
Judge Motley also served as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s associate counsel and participated in writing the briefs for Brown v. Board of Education. She went on to shatter other gender and race barriers as the first African American woman elected to the New York state senate in 1964 and to the Manhattan borough presidency in 1965.
Called “a pillar of the plaintiffs’ bar” by the National Law Journal, Ms. Cabraser’s leadership of Lieff Cabraser turned it into one of the country’s largest law firms serving clients seeking redress for financial and consumer fraud, anti-competitive practices, harmful drugs and products, and illegal employment practices.
Possessing unparalleled expertise in complex civil litigation, Ms. Cabraser has served as court-appointed lead, co-lead, or class counsel in scores of federal multi-district and state coordinated proceedings. These cases include multi-state tobacco, the Exxon Valdez disaster, Breast Implants, Fen-Phen (Diet Drugs), Vioxx, Toyota sudden acceleration, numerous securities/investment fraud cases, and Holocaust litigation.
Today, Ms. Cabraser serves in court-appointed leadership positions in several of the nation’s highest profile civil cases: the BP Gulf Oil Spill, GM ignition switch defect, and Takata defective airbag litigation, as well as serving as sole Lead Counsel and Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Emissions litigation and the Fiat Chrysler Ecodiesel Emissions litigation.