Calling on the legal profession to champion democratic values and achieve justice, Tulane Law School alumna Judy Perry Martinez addressed the American Bar Association House of Delegates as ABA president-elect nominee. Earlier this week during the ABA’s Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, Martinez (L’82) called on the nation’s largest legal organization and one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations with over 400,000 members to embrace technology and become more “nimble” as it serves its members, and continue to use its voice to “trumpet the essential values of our democracy.”If elected in August, Martinez, who is an attorney with Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans, will serve a one-year term as president-elect, before becoming president in August 2019.
Since graduating with honors from Tulane Law School, Martinez has had a career rooted in public service. She held a succession of key leadership positions within the ABA, including chairing the ABA’s Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services, and the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary. Locally, she was among a group of young lawyers who in the early 1980s launched the New Orleans Pro Bono Project.
She joined Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in 1982 as a commercial litigator, where she became a partner and later a member of the management committee. In 2003, she joined Northrop Grumman, an international aerospace and defense company, where she worked first as assistant general counsel managing a portion of the company’s litigation, and later as vice president and chief compliance officer. In 2015, she retired from Northrop Grumman and became a fellow at the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, where she spent a year in residence before returning to her New Orleans firm of Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn.Throughout her career, Martinez has been a strong advocate for the legal profession through the ABA, chairing the 174,000-member Young Lawyers Division, serving on the Commission on Women, and chairing the Commission on Domestic Violence.She has received numerous awards for her pro bono and public service. She was named 2001 Louisiana Distinguished Attorney by the Louisiana Bar Foundation, received the Sam Dalton Capital Defense Advocacy Award from the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Counsel in 1997, the Camille Gravel Public Service Award from the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and the Alliance for Justice Award in 1999 from the National Gay and Lesbian Law Association.
Last year, she received the David A. Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award from the LSBA and the President’s Award by the New Orleans Bar Association.Martinez is a member of Tulane Law’s Dean’s Advisory Board and remains closely involved in supporting students. Last August, she joined fellow alumni Wayne Lee (L ’74) and Robert Waldrup (L ’16) in a special panel discussion on the importance of diversity in the legal profession and, in November, arranged and hosted a discussion at Tulane Law with current ABA President Hilarie Bass.
As she spoke about the future to ABA members in Vancouver, Martinez urged the ABA’s continued advocacy on behalf of the independence of the judiciary, defense of the Constitution, and championing of the importance of a free press in our democracy.“This association will rise to a new zenith as it serves its members, defends liberty and achieves justice,” she said.And, true to her roots in public service, she called on lawyers to face new challenges boldly and innovatively, particularly within the nation’s justice system.“The world is fundamentally changing, and with those changes come challenges and opportunity,” Martinez told members. “We, the lawyers, will lead, by instilling in the public a renewed sense of confidence in our justice system.”As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.