The Honorable Joy Flowers Conti is a co-recipient of the 2009 Professionalism Award for the Third Circuit and will be recognized at the annual Celebration of Excellence on October 17th at the Supreme Court of the United States.
Judge Conti was an “Army Brat” who, after her birth in Kane, Pennsylvania, grew up on Army bases throughout the world. After her exciting childhood, she returned to Pennsylvania where she graduated from Duquesne University in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts. Her father, though an Army officer, often mused that he regretted not having the chance to practice law. Inspired by her father, Judge Conti—with the help of a full academic scholarship—was one of six women to enter Duquesne University’s School of Law in 1970. She was awarded a J.D. degree summa cum laude and distinguished herself as the first female Editor-In-Chief of the Duquesne Law Review.
After law school, she clerked for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Louis L. Mandrino. In 1974, she was the first woman lawyer to be hired by Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Johnson & Hutchinson. In 1976 she joined the faculty of Duquesne University School of Law and became a tenured professor of law. In 1982, she returned to private practice with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and became a partner in 1983. In 1996, she joined Buchanan Ingersoll, PC as a shareholder. She has been a prodigious author and lecturer on bankruptcy and corporate law. In 2002, she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Judge Conti is a member of the Allegheny County Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania, and the Federal Bar Association. She is a former president of the Allegheny County Bar Association and former chair of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers’ Section. She also served as secretary and a trustee of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation. She was a Governor-at-Large of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and was the chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section. She served in the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, and she is currently serving in the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s House of Delegates. She was a co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Task Force on Legal Services for the Poor, Part II.
She is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Judicature Society. She is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, the American Bar Foundation, the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation and the Allegheny County Bar Foundation. She was president of the Historical Society of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She has also been very active as a member of the W. Edward Sell American Inn of Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 2008, she received the Duquesne University Woman of Distinction Award. In 2002, she received the Outstanding Leadership Award in Support of Legal Services given by Pennsylvania Legal Services. In 1995, she was the second recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Anne X. Alpern Award, which annually recognizes one outstanding
woman lawyer or judge. Also in 1995, she received Vectors/Pittsburgh Award for Woman Year in Law and Government. In 1993, she received the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Tribute to Women Award for Professionals and the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award. In 1981, she was recognized as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Women in America and as the Outstanding Young Woman in Pennsylvania.
Having raised three children, she found time to participate in her children’s activities, serving on a nursery school board and in scouting. She claimed that the legal profession enables “lawyers to affect in a positive way the lives of members” of the community, and her volunteer efforts have set high standards for her colleagues in Western Pennsylvania. Admired and respected not only for her professionalism on the bench, but also for her inspirational mentoring, Judge Conti has often quoted from Calamandrei’s Eulogy of Judges:
What constitutes a great lawyer?…Such a lawyer speaks no more than is necessary; he writes clearly and to the point; he does not encumber the courtroom with his personality. He does not bore judges with his prolixity nor raise their suspicions with his subtlety. For all practical purposes, then, he is the opposite of that type whom many laymen consider the great lawyer.
Her countless supporters would say that this advice about professionalism is exactly why Judge Conti is so deserving of this award.
Pictured above: The Honorable Joy Flowers Conti is being recognized during the 2009 American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence held at the Supreme Court of the Untied States on October 17, 2009.