The Hon. Johnnie B. Rawlinson, ’79.

The Hon. Johnnie Blakeney Rawlinson, ’79, was the first woman and the first Person of Color to serve on the Federal District Court in Nevada. Judge Rawlinson was also the first African-American woman to sit on the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Rawlinson is a summa cum laude graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated with distinction from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 1979 and received a Master’s in Judicial Studies from Duke University in 2016.

Judge Rawlinson is a member of the Just The Beginning Foundation, Federal Judges Association, State Bar of Nevada, California State Bar, National Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Law Institute, Duke University Board of Visitors, and an Honorary Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Judge Rawlinson has received the following honors and awards: Distinguished Service Award – Clark County Pro Bono Project, Black Women Lawyers of Northern California Recognition Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Outstanding Community Service Award, N.C. A&T State University Alumni Association Outstanding Professional Achievement Award, NOBLE Award, Martin Luther King Committee Drum Major of the Millennium Award, Nevada Attorney General Role Model Award, Links Achievement Award, Urban Chamber Outstanding Professional Achievement Award, McGeorge School of Law Alumna of the Year Award, International Legal Professional of the Year 2004, Green Bag Award for Excellence in Legal Writing, 2007 High Heels in High Places Trumpet Award, 2012 National Bar Association Women Lawyer’s Division “Jurist of the Year Award,” 2014 Las Vegas Chapter, National Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016 National Bar Association Judicial Division Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016 National Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award, 2020 Southern Nevada Association of Women Attorneys Justice Miriam Shearing Award, 2020 Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada, Hall of Fame Minority Lifetime Achievement Award Inductee, 2022 Clark County Black Caucus Trailblazer Award, 2023 Keeper of the Dream Lifetime Achievement Award, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, and 2023 Bryan Scott Trailblazer Award, State Bar of Nevada.

Judge Rawlinson was chosen as one of the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Awards recipients for her exceptional professional achievements and dedication to University of the Pacific.


Throughout 2024, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law will celebrate members of its vast alumni network in honor of the school’s 100-year anniversary. This post is the first in a series highlighting 100 exceptional McGeorge School of Law alumni.

Stay tuned for more blog posts as we celebrate the law school’s centennial anniversary.