SWLAW Blog | Diversity
February 27, 2020
Honoring Our Trailblazing Black Alumni
The celebration of Black History Month continues! We are highlighting some of our exemplary black alumni who have set an example of what it means to be a Bison and to serve our community.
Hon. Arleigh Woods ‘53
Justice Arleigh M. Woods was the first African American woman to be appointed to the California Second Appellate District Court of Appeals in the United States. She was named “Appellate Justice of the Year” by the California Trial Lawyers in 1983 for her service. Prior to her appointment as a judge, Justice Woods was the youngest woman admitted to the bar at the age of 22, and only the third African-American woman admitted. She was also the first black woman senior partner in a law firm.
After completing her law degree at Southwestern, Justice Woods set up a small private practice. She later went to work for a firm, working her way up to partner at Levy, Koszdin & Woods. She specialized in civil law, representing clients in cases related to construction accidents, medical issues, and labor and workers compensation.
Tom Bradley ‘56
Tom Bradley was the first African-American Mayor of Los Angeles. After he was elected in 1973, he served an unprecedented five terms. Under his leadership as Mayor of Los Angeles, the city transformed into a world center of unparalleled ethnic and cultural diversity. His legacy includes the expansion of some of the city’s most important economic strongholds, including the Los Angeles International Airport and the Los Angeles Harbor, as well as the advent of much-needed mass transit.
Tom Bradley attended Southwestern Law School’s evening program while working as a police officer full time. He retired from the police department in 1961. After passing the California Bar, he spent a few years in private law practice. With the encouragement of a group of community leaders, Bradley entered the political arena, winning a Los Angeles City Council seat in 1963 by a two-thirds margin. He served on the City Council for 10 years before his election as mayor in 1973.
Shawn Holley ‘88
Shawn Holley is currently a partner at Kinsella, Weitzman, Iser, Kump & Aldisert LLP. She practices in multiple areas of law including Criminal Defense and Entertainment. She is known for representing many high-profile clients and has become known as the go-to-lawyer for celebrities who find themselves in trouble.
Shawn Holley graduated from Southwestern Law School in 1988. After passing the bar, Holley started her career as a public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. After five years as a public defender, she left to work with Johnnie Cochran, eventually becoming the managing partner of The Cochran Firm and the “Dream Team” that represented O.J. Simpson. Holley has received countless awards during her remarkable legal career from being named a Top Woman Lawyer in 2012 by LA Daily Journal to One of the Best Lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report.
Karen A. Henry ‘03
Karen Henry is currently an attorney at the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. An accomplished litigator, Ms. Henry passionately defends the First Amendment freedoms of creators and distributors of a wide variety of entertainment content, from television programs to video games.
Henry has been recognized for her community service and pro-bono work. She was named a Southern California Rising Star and is in the ranks of the Top 100 Black Lawyers. She teaches “Communication Tools for the New Lawyer," at Southwestern and is a member of the Board of Trustees.