News Release

Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Nation's Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (Nov. 6, 2017) – On October 28, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) presented Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by NACDL President Rick Jones at NACDL’s 2017 Fall Meeting in Boston, MA.

For more than three decades, Ogletree has lived his commitment to civil rights and to upholding the Constitution through his work as a public defender, educator, and prominent legal theorist. Ogletree is currently a professor of law at Harvard Law School, where he began his tenure in 1984. In this role, he notably mentored former President Barack Obama and taught former First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2005, Ogletree founded The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, addressing contemporary challenges in America’s multi-racial society. Prior to becoming a professor at Harvard, Ogletree worked for the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, first as a staff attorney and then eventually as deputy director.

"Professor Ogletree is a role model, mentor and inspiration to generations of young lawyers,” said NACDL President Rick Jones. “He certainly was that to me, both as a board member of the fledging Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in 1990, and later, with his pioneering work at the intersection of race and justice. I am privileged and honored to be able to present him with NACDL's Lifetime Achievement Award."

Throughout his dedicated career, Ogletree has received numerous prestigious awards and honors. In 2009, Ogletree was awarded the ABA Spirit of Excellence Award in recognition of his tireless contributions to criminal justice. He was named one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal in 2008. He also became the first ever recipient of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Award presented by the city of Boston in 2006. Additionally, after serving as President for the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) from 1977-1978, Ogletree was inducted into the NBLSA’s Hall of Fame and presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ogletree’s impressive list of works includes an array of articles, books, and lectures, with a specific focus on the nexus of race and justice in America. He has written extensively on racial injustice and capital punishment, including his most recent publication co-edited with Professor Austin Sarat of Amherst College, entitled Racial Reconciliation and the Healing of a Nation: Beyond Law and Rights. In one of his most notable works — All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004) — Ogletree describes his personal experience growing up as a minority in the midst of the landmark Supreme Court decision.

Professor Ogletree earned both his B.A. with distinction and M.A. in political science from Stanford University. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Past recipients of NACDL’s Lifetime Achievement Award include Stephen B. Bright, Ramsey Clark, Bobby Lee Cook, Deryl Dantzler, Samuel Dash, Judge William Wayne Justice, and Michael E. Tigar. A complete list of recipients of NACDL’s Lifetime Achievement Award is available here.

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Ian Nawalinski, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7624 or 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.