American Philosophical Society
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504. Scholars in the Professions[X]
1Name:  Professor Herma Hill Kay
 Institution:  University of California, Berkeley
 Year Elected:  2000
 Class:  5. The Arts, Professions, and Leaders in Public & Private Affairs
 Subdivision:  504. Scholars in the Professions
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1934
 Death Date:  June 10, 2017
Herma Hill Kay received a J.D. at the University of Chicago Law School in 1959. She was the Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she was Dean of the Law School from 1992-2000. Kay was only the second woman hired on the Berkeley Law faculty - when the first announced her plans to retire. But by the time Kay stepped down as dean, the student body was more than 50 percent female. That figure stood at 10 percent in 1969. "[Kay's] mentoring of women law students and young faculty opened the door to legal careers that simply did not exist before she and other women of her generation began to imagine them," wrote Berkeley emerita law professor Eleanor Swift in a 2016 article in the California Law Review. "The women law professors whom she mentored throughout her career constitute her enduring legacy to the law and to legal education." Kay's influence goes far beyond the legal academy, however. She was a driving force behind California's 1969 adoption of so-called no-fault divorce, when she sat on the state's Commission on The Family. California was the first to adopt the rule, which has since been embraced by nearly every other state. She also co-authored the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which provides a national standard for no-fault divorce. She was a recipient of the Research Award from the American Bar Foundation, the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Distinction award of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, and the Marshall-Wythe Medal. She was the author (with M. West) of Text, Cases, and Materials on Sex-Based Discrimination (6th edition, 2006); and of (with D. Currie, L. Kramer and K. Roosevelt) Conflict of Laws: Cases, Comments, Questions, (7th edition, 2006). Herma Hill Kay was a recognized leader in legal education and also a productive scholar in the important fields of family law, sex-based discrimination, and conflict of laws. Except for visiting professorships elsewhere, she spent her entire 45-year career at the University of California, Berkeley. She presided over such national organizations as the Association of American Law Schools, the Trustees of the Russell Sage Foundation, and the National Order of the Coif and was a valued, long-time member of the Council of the American Law Institute. Her writings in family law won her the prestigious Research Award of the American Bar Foundation in 1990. She was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2000. Herma Hill Kay died June 10, 2017, at age 82, in Berkeley, California.
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