Kobre & Kim Honors Cecil F. Poole for Black History Month

February 14, 2020

In honor of Black History Month, Kobre & Kim continues its reflections on the unique contributions made by African Americans both inside and outside the legal industry by featuring judge and lawyer Cecil F. Poole.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Mr. Poole obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from Harvard University. In 1961, he was nominated by President John F. Kennedy to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, becoming the nation’s first black U.S. Attorney. In that role, Mr. Poole navigated the contentious issues of the era, which included the Vietnam War and civil rights.

In 1976, after a short stint in private practice, Mr. Poole was nominated to the District Court, becoming the first black federal judge in Northern California. Three years later, he became the first African American on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the second on any federal appeals court. During the remainder of his career, he continued to help those fighting against racial discrimination, encouraged young black lawyers, and hired law clerks of color. He served until 1996 and passed away a year later.