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Brazil's First Female Chief Justice to Speak at US Law Schools Annual Meeting

Brazil's Chief Justice Ellen Gracie Northfleet Brazilian Chief Justice Ellen Gracie Northfleet and American justice Sandra Day O'Connor will speak on Thursday, January 3, 2008, from 12:30-2:00 p.m. during the luncheon of the joint Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and Conference of Chief Justices Workshop on the Courts, which is part of the AALS Annual Meeting -- a week-long conference in New York City drawing over 3,500 law faculty.

President Ellen Gracie Northfleet is the first female to be appointed to the Brazilian Supreme Federal Tribunal and is also its first female president.

Her public career began in 1971, clerking for the Rio Grande do Sul State General Counsel. On November 7, 1973, she joined the Ministério Público Federal, where she remained in the capacity of Federal Attorney until 1989.

Northfleet who is descended from Americans who settled in Brazil (her great-grandfather was a Confederate officer who moved to Brazil after the Civil War) was appointed to the Supreme Federal Tribunal on November 23, 2000, the first woman to be named to the tribunal. On March 15, 2006 she was chosen to head this court by a vote of its justices.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice O'Connor was nominated to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served for over twenty-four years.

From 1958-1960, Justice O'Connor practiced law in Maryvale, Arizona, and served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965-1969. She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and was subsequently reelected for two two-year terms.

In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and served until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Justice O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court on January 31, 2006 and is currently the Chancellor of the College of William and Mary.

The entire AALS 2008 Annual Meeting program can be found on the Association's Web site at http://www.aals.org/am2008/.

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