A native of New York City, Jill Abramson received her high school diploma from Ethical Culture Fieldston School and a B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University in 1976. While a student at Harvard, she worked at Time magazine from 1973 to 1976 and subsequently spent nearly a decade as a senior staff reporter for The American Lawyer. In 1986, she was appointed as editor in chief of Legal Times in Washington, D.C., serving for two years. From 1988 to 1997, she was a senior reporter in the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal, eventually rising to deputy bureau chief. She became the chief of The New York Times Washington bureau upon her move to the newspaper in 1997.
Abramson was The Times' Washington Bureau chief during the turbulent period of spring, 2003 during the run-up to the war in Iraq and the Jayson Blair scandal, which led to the resignation of Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd. Abramson was named to the news Managing Editor position (with co-Managing Editor John M.Geddes) by Raines' successor Bill Keller, who took over his current job one month prior to Abramson.
In 1995, Jill Abramson and her Wall Street Journal colleague (and Fieldston alumna) Jane Mayer co-authored Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, which detailed circumstances surrounding the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. Maureen Dowd would later write of having bonded with Abramson during that time . From 2000-01, she was a professor at Princeton University.
On February 13, 2007, Abramson testified in the perjury trial of Scooter Libby, United States v. Libby. She was called as a defense witness to undercut the credibility of Judith Miller .
Jill Abramson married Henry Little Griggs III on March 14, 1981. They have two children.
On May 8, 2007, Abramson was seriously injured in a truck-pedestrian traffic accident at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and 44th Street, a few blocks from the newspaper's Times Square headquarters. She and her husband had reportedly filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the truck's driver, owner and operator, accusing them of "negligence, carelessness, and recklessness," causing her "to suffer severe and serious personal injuries to mind and body," and "great physical pain and mental anguish."