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Lawyers Club Blog

Posted by: Yahairah Aristy on Jun 10, 2021

Although the Stonewall Uprising that led to the gay rights movement occurred in 1969, it was not until 44 years later that the first Asian-American member of the LGBQ+ community was confirmed to be an Article III judge. Judge Pamela Chen, a woman, a lesbian, was appointed in 2013.

Judge Chen is the first of her family to be born in the United States after her parents moved from China to Chicago, Illinois. She began practicing law after graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1986. After five years in private practice, she joined the U.S. Department of Justice in 1991 until 1998. Then she joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where she remained until her federal judicial appointment in 2013. 

Judge Chen is perhaps most recognized for her work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office fighting human trafficking, which she began in 2003, just three years after the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 became law. “Doing all of the human trafficking work for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is singularly the best thing I have ever done in my career,” Judge Chen said. “Today it’s a subject in a lot of the media, but back in 2003 when we first started, nobody really knew about human trafficking, and the law was only about three years old … it turned out to be the most gratifying work I’ve done as a lawyer.” Read more here.

This Pride Month join us in celebrating Judge Chen’s glass-breaking accomplishments.