Professor Susan Herman Honored with Trinity College Dublin’s Praeses Elit Award


Susan Herman, Centennial Professor of Law and president of the ACLU, was honored recently by the Dublin University Law Society of Trinity College, Dublin, with the Praeses Elit Award 2019.

Herman received the award, which recognized her leadership of the ACLU, at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, on Oct. 10. She delivered an address to the law students at Trinity College focusing on three stories about people who inspired her work to defend civil liberties: her mother, a law professor, and her fellow ACLU attorneys.

“When the worst are full of passionate intensity, ‘the best’ cannot afford to lack all conviction,” said Herman in her address, referencing the Irish poet W.B. Yeats. “We can’t just wheel around like ‘indignant birds.’”

The Praeses Elit Award is given to “those who have advanced discourse in their line of work, and who have been a source of inspiration for young people everywhere,” as noted by Nicola Ó Corrbuí, Secretary of the Law Society. Recent award recipients include former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, songwriter and humanitarian Sir Bob Geldof, and former South African president and Nobel Prize-winner F.W. de Klerk. The award was founded by Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland.

Trinity College Dublin’s Law Society, in its 86th year, is one of Ireland’s most prestigious and prominent student societies. Its membership consists of Trinity College students of all disciplines interested in legal issues, political debate, and business affairs. A forum for discussion and debate, the Society is committed to the personal development of its members through its speaker series and social events.

Herman was elected president of the ACLU in 2008 after serving on the organization's National Board of Directors for 16 years and as general counsel for 10 years. At the Law School, she teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Law and Literature, and Terrorism and Civil Liberties. She is affiliated with the Center for Law, Language & Cognition and is an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Committee Member. In 2015, she was named an Icon of Brooklyn Law School. In June, Crain’s New York Business placed her on its list of “50 Most Powerful Women in New York.”