Judge Harriet Murphy, ’69, inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame

On August 12, 2010, Judge Harriet Murphy, UT Law class of 1969, was inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame. Judge Murphy’s induction is in recognition of her community involvement and of the significant contributions she has made to the cause of justice during her life in the law.

The only black woman in her law class, Judge Murphy has long been a champion of diversity issues. In 1973, she became the first African-American woman to be officially appointed to a judgeship in the state of Texas. She was a judge on the City of Austin Municipal Court for twenty years, a term of service which included presiding judge.

Her contributions to the profession are widely known and valued; over the course of her long and distinguished career she has served as counselor to legislators, politicians, and university presidents on diversity issues. Murphy was a founding member of the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Travis County Women Lawyers Association, and the Austin Urban League. She has served on the Mayor’s Task Force on the Homeless and the Travis County Public Defenders Task Force. She served for two years on the United States State Department Council on African Affairs, during which time she participated in a data-finding commission to South Africa. Currently, she serves on the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College and the Black Alumni Steering Committee of the Texas Exes.

Murphy received one of the inaugural Austin Black Lawyers Association’s Legacy Awards earlier this year. In 2005 she received the Raymond Pace Alexander Award, and in 2003 she was awarded the Gertrude E. Rush Award, both from the National Bar Association. She has received several additional awards from the University of Texas, including the first Thurgood Marshall Legal Society award and the Yellow Rose of Texas Award. Additionally, she serves on numerous boards, including the International Hospitality Council of Austin.

Prior to joining the municipal court, Murphy practiced law part time for eight years and was head of the government department of Huston-Tillotson College in Austin for five years. Born and raised in Atlanta, she received her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and a masters degree from Clark-Atlanta University in addition to her degree from UT Law.

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The Daily Texan recently profiled Judge Murphy: Former Austin judge talks Texas admissions