About Justice Nelson
Justice Adrienne Nelson was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court on January 2, 2018, making her the first African American to sit on the state’s highest court and any appellate state court. In 2006, she was appointed as a trial judge on the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, making her the second African American female judge in the state of Oregon. Prior to her judicial appointments, she worked as a public defender with Multnomah Defenders, Inc., then as an associate with the Bennett, Hartman, Morris and Kaplan, LLP law firm and as the Senior Attorney/Coordinator of the Portland State University Student Legal and Mediation Services. Justice Nelson earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Criminal Justice, summa cum laude, from the University of Arkansas.
Appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court
Justice Adrienne Nelson was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court on January 2, 2018, making her the first African American to sit on the state’s highest court and any appellate state court.
Over the years, Justice Nelson has been very active in the legal community and the greater Oregon community. She is a frequent speaker on a number of topics including diversity, inclusion, equity, leadership and professional development. Justice Nelson also serves as a mentor to many people. Currently she sits on the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Public Education, is the Oregon delegate to the ABA House of Delegates (before this position, she had been elected seven times as an Oregon State Bar (OSB) delegate), chairs the Lewis and Clark Law School Judge Roosevelt Robinson Scholarship Committee and is vice-president of the Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court.
Justice Nelson is a frequent speaker on a number of topics including diversity, inclusion, equity, leadership and professional development. She also serves as a mentor to many people.
In the community, Justice Nelson sits on the Reed College Board of Trustees, the Self-Enhancement, Incorporated (SEI) Board of Directors, the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Advisory Board, and the Oregon Community Foundation Metropolitan Portland Leadership Council where she chairs the Outreach to the Black Community committee. Justice Nelson is a tireless encourager and connector helping people succeed by living their best lives.
Justice Nelson has been recognized for her service and mentorship to others from numerous organizations in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest:
On April 27, 2018, she was honored as a Dress for Success Oregon’s Athena Award honoree.
In October 2016, the Boy Scouts Cascade Paciﬁc Council named Justice Nelson a Whitney M. Young Jr. award recipient for her community service.
In May 2016, the Multnomah Bar Association presented Justice Nelson with an Award of Merit.
In February 2016, she was honored by the Portland Prime restaurant at its Black History Month Program.
In December 2015, the Oregon State Bar presented Justice Nelson with its Diversity and Inclusion Award.
On September 16, 2015, the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington named her a Marie Lamfrom Woman of Distinction.
In May 2015, Justice Nelson was named a member of the Class of 2015 of the Council on State Government (CSG) Henry Toll Fellows, making her one of eight Oregonians selected for this leadership program.
On October 2, 2014, Portland State University Center for Women’s Leadership honored her for her leadership at their Eighth Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon.
On May 21, 2012, Justice Nelson was named a White Rose honoree by the Oregon Chapter of the March of Dimes for her community service.
On October 1, 2011, Lewis and Clark Law School named her a distinguished honorary graduate for her mentoring and diversity activities at the school.
In 2003, Justice Nelson received the Oregon Women Lawyers (OWLS) Judge Mercedes Deiz award for promotion of women and minorities in the legal profession and in the community.