Las Vegas attorney Patricia Lee has made history this week by becoming the first Asian American and first Black woman to serve in the Nevada Supreme Court.
Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV) appointed Lee in the empty seat in Department F left by Justice Abbi Silver when she stepped down from the position earlier this year. Lee would assume the position effective immediately.
“I am proud and honored to appoint Patricia to serve on the Nevada Supreme Court,” Sisolak said in a statement after the announcement on Monday. “The breadth and depth of her skillset and her personal and professional experience make her an incredible addition to the State’s highest court.”
Lee will serve in the Nevada Supreme Court until her term ends on Jan. 6, 2025. If she wants to retain the position, she will have to run for election in 2024.
An attorney partner at the Hutchison and Steffen law firm in Las Vegas, Lee was one of the candidates nominated by the Judicial Selection Commission, alongside Washoe County District Judge Scott Freeman and Clark County District Judge Tierra Jones.
Lee was born in South Korea to a Korean mother and a Black military father. She earned a dual degree in psychology and communications from the University of Southern California and later attended George Washington University (GWU) Law School, where she received her Juris Doctorate in 2002.
While at GWU, Lee was elected as the community service director for the Student Bar Association, according to her Hutchison and Steffen biography. She also assisted small businesses in economically distressed communities with their legal needs while serving as the student director of the Small Business Clinic at the university.
After graduating from GWU, Lee went on to work at Hutchison and Steffen, where she served as a partner for 20 years since 2002.
Besides being the first Black and Asian American to serve in the Nevada Supreme Court, Lee was also the first attorney from Nevada to receive the prestigious National Pro Bono Publico Award from the American Bar Association in 2013.
Lee also received several recognitions and awards, including ones from the Asian American Group (Outstanding Community Achievement), the Lili Clair Foundation (“Live your Passion” Award) and the Womens’ Chamber of Commerce (Young Professionals Award and Humanitarian of the Year).