Barbara Brudno, the first female faculty member at the UCLA School of Law and a leader in the field of poverty law, died on Dec. 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. She was 75.
Brudno joined the law school faculty in September 1968 and earned tenure about five years later. She was hired four years before the school brought on its next three female faculty members, now professor emerita Alison Anderson; Carole Goldberg, the Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law; and Dean Emerita Susan Westerberg Prager. A graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, Brudno clerked for California Supreme Court Justice Mathew Tobriner before joining UCLA.
She taught classes in fields that included constitutional law, torts and family law, and served on committees setting guidelines for school curricula and student qualifications for acceptance to the UCLA Law Review. Her casebooks included "Poverty, Inequality, and the Law: Cases, Commentary, Analysis" (1976), which was widely used by law faculty around the country; "Income Redistribution Theories and Programs: Cases, Commentary, Analyses" (1977); and "California Real Property Security Transactions: Cases and Materials" (1969).
In 1982, Brudno left UCLA to spend time in New York City. She taught at Brooklyn Law School for three years, then returned to Los Angeles and went into private practice.
Dean Jennifer Mnookin, the David G. Price and Dallas P. Price Professor of Law at UCLA, said, "Barbara Brudno was a pioneer and a life-changing mentor for female professors who joined the faculty after she broke the barrier. She had an inspirational commitment to applying the law to help those in need. The school is proud today to be a leader in areas of public interest law that she championed."
Michael Asimow, UCLA professor of law emeritus and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, recalled Brudno's dedication to social justice, her impactful research and the challenges of being a woman that she faced in academia in that era.
"I recall the day she integrated the men-only pool hall at the UCLA Faculty Center," Asimow wrote. "Barbara had little or no interest in playing pool, but she delighted in attacking this clubby bastion of male privilege."
UCLA Law Dean Emerita Prager, who took a poverty law class from Brudno, said, "Barbara's brilliance and her ability to draw together a rapidly evolving set of legal and constitutional principles was extraordinary. She was also a tremendous, informal advisor at a time before the word 'mentor' came into common usage, not just for me, but for many students, female and male.
"Her encouragement was a vital influence in my ability to enter teaching and to survive my early years as a faculty member," Prager said. "She truly cared, and her courageous intensity was contagious. It wasn't easy to be the first female faculty member anywhere, and Barbara did it her way."