Berkeley Law Professor Russell Robinson Honored for LGBT Scholarship

Russell Robinson
Russell Robinson

Berkeley, Calif., April 21, 2016—UC Berkeley Law Professor Russell Robinson is the Pride Law Fund’s 2016 Trailblazer Award winner for his work as a pioneer and leader in the LGBTQ movement. The nonprofit will honor Robinson during an award ceremony and fundraising cruise in the San Francisco Bay on August 14.

The Pride Law Fund (PLF) promotes the legal rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities and people living with HIV and AIDS. Its annual Trailblazer Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary vision and leadership.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” said Robinson, who serves as the UC Distinguished Haas Chair in LGBT Equity. “The Pride Law Fund’s support of young lawyers, students and advocates helps to empower the LGBTQ movement by providing a strong leadership core and ensuring the continuation of scholarship in the field.”

Robinson’s research and teaching interests include antidiscrimination law, race and sexuality, law and psychology, constitutional law and media and entertainment law. His scholarship has highlighted the abuses LGBTQ people face in incarceration, and more. In Masculinity as Prison: Sexual Identity, Race, and Incarceration, Robinson has helped shape the conversation about the arbitrary and discriminatory processes for incarcerated LGBTQ people to access protective spaces within jails and prisons.

After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Robinson clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Dorothy Nelson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has also worked for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, and the firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld in Los Angeles.

Robinson is “one of the most important thought leaders in the progressive legal movement,” said Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center of Lesbian Rights. He called Robinson’s scholarship “groundbreaking, inspiring and absolutely essential” to the work of LGBTQ and racial justice advocates.

“His work is making a real difference not only in how advocates on the ground understand and approach our cases and policy initiatives, but also in how courts and policymakers respond to complex discrimination claims that involve multiple components of identity,” Minter said. 

Past Pride Law Fund award recipients include Minter, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Mary Morgan, and former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno.

“The Pride Law Fund is privileged to present the 2016 Trailblazer award to Russell Robinson,” said PLF co-chair Joshua Delfin. “Robinson’s legal scholarship contributes to the much-needed dialogue on the systemic racism that harms LGBTQ people of color. Robinson’s work illuminates the discrepancies that create discriminatory institutions for LGBTQ people of color.”

All proceeds of the fundraising cruise will benefit the fund’s fellowships for young lawyers and law students. These include the year-long $30,000 Tom Steel Legal Fellowship for a new lawyer to create an innovative civil rights project on behalf of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities, and the Steven Richter Fellowship, which funds a law student working on HIV/AIDS advocacy. PLF has also funded over 100 summer fellowships for law students clerking at LGBTQ organizations nationwide.

The Pride Law Fund is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit, charitable organization. It has awarded grants to young lawyers and law students pursuing LGBTQ advocacy projects since its inception in 1979.

To register for the August 14 fundraising cruise aboard the U.S.S. Potomac go here. For more details about the event and sponsorship opportunities, contact Joshua Delfin at, 415-889-9160; or Kate Walsham at

Editors: Robinson’s photo is available here