Prof. Deborah Rhode (1952 – 2021)


Deborah Rhode was the International Association of Legal Ethics’ founding president. Deborah passed away on 8 January 2021 at the far too early age of 68. She was an extraordinary scholar in legal ethics, speaking and writing in a lucid, laconic style.

She played a major role in the establishment and organization of the discipline of legal ethics in the United States and worldwide. As the doyen of the legal ethics community, she is greatly missed. The International Association of Legal Ethics is committed to keeping her legacy alive.

Particularly close to Deborah’s heart was to encourage young academics to become involved in the field of legal ethics and to support their careers. It is, therefore, the Association’s great honour to award the IAOLE Deborah Rhode Prize at the biannual International Legal Ethics Conference for an early career legal ethics paper.

From her early days at Yale Law School, Deborah Rhode’s work revolved around questions of injustice in the practice of law and the challenges of identifying and redressing it.

Stanford University became her academic home. She joined the faculty at Stanford in 1979 and founded and led several research centers at Stanford Law School devoted to issues close to her heart, including its Center on the Legal Profession and the Center on Ethics.

Her effort in organizing the field of legal ethics on a global scale included the founding of this Association, of which she served as the inaugural president from 2010 to 2014.

Always a generous and unfailing supporter of our Association, as well as being a warm and caring friend to many, she will be much missed throughout the world, both in the profession and in academia.

At the International Legal Ethics Conference 2022 at UCLA, the Deborah Rhode Memorial Luncheon remembered and honoured Deborah as a friend, colleague, and champion of legal ethics.

Legal ethics will never be the same without her. As the bell tolls, let us carry and build on the legacy she has created.

For further information on Deborah’s life and legacy, see