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Justice & Diversity Center Honors Outstanding Legal Services and Diversity Educational Program Volunteers

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California Carol Corrigan was on hand to present awards


April 18, 2014 -- San Francisco – The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) celebrated its most outstanding volunteers at its annual Appreciation Celebration on April 17.

More than 250 people attended the event, held at the Louis B. Mayer Lounge at UC Hastings College of the Law.  JDC honored volunteers of its legal services and diversity educational programs.

Guest of honor Associate Justice Carol Corrigan, Supreme Court of California, provided inspirational remarks at the awards ceremony and greeted awardees.  JDC Board President Stephanie Skaff, Farella Braun + Martel, also made remarks and congratulated awardees.

JDC honored the top 15 percent of the volunteers in its Pro Bono Legal Services Program, Homeless Advocacy Project, and Diversity Educational Programs with Outstanding Volunteer in Public Service Certificates. JDC also recognized four individual volunteers and a law firm with special awards.

Christopher Emley and Don Emley, of the Emley Law Office, received the 2013 James P. Preovolos Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Services in Family Law.  Christopher Emley was instrumental in creating the Volunteer Legal Services Program, which later became JDC.  He has represented, consulted and mentored in 98 JDC cases.  Christopher Emley’s son, Don Emley, has also provided pro bono representation in numerous JDC cases since joining the practice in 2011.

JDC presented the 2013 Housing Justice Award to Rudy Balderama of the Balderama Law Firm.  He has volunteered with JDC’s Eviction Defense project since 2005, and in 2013, represented low-income tenants in seven unlawful detainer cases.  

Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass received the 2013 Outstanding Law Firm in Public Service Award.  The firm was the second to sign onto JDC’s Right to Civil Counsel Pilot Program, and in 2013, the firm’s attorneys volunteered on behalf of low-income tenants, consumers and taxpayers. In addition to its pro bono legal services work, in 2013, Coblentz also sponsored one of JDC’s Bay Area Minority Law Students Scholarships, a $30,000 three-year commitment, and hosted a reception introducing the scholarship recipients to their donors.

JDC gave the 2013 Community Service Award to Noemi Gonzalez for her exceptional commitment to pro bono work.  Gonzalez volunteers as an interpreter with JDC in numerous family law, eviction defense and consumer matters, and steps in at the last minute for landlord-tenant trials when necessary. 

The following law firms and corporations sponsored the Outstanding Volunteer Appreciation Celebration:  Farella Braun + Martel; Hewlett-Packard Company; Jones Day; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Morrison & Foerster; and Ropes & Gray.

Additionally, the following contributed in-kind donations: JK Estates Wine; Kimberly Hathaway, Hathaway PR; Lagunitas Brewing Company; and Sorpresa Vineyard.
The following volunteers were honored for their dedication and leadership in support of JDC’s Mock Trial program. These volunteers served as the captains of the high school teams that participated in the Mock Trial competition: Steve Berninger, EPA Government; Lauren Charneski, Jones Day; Anne Fokstuen, Law Office of Anne Forstuen; Andrew Levine, Keker &Van Nest LLP; John Pingel, Reed Smith; Kaelyn Romey, IRS; Justin Sessions, Keker & Van Nest LLP.

Marcelo Quinones of Bingham McCutchen was honored for his work with JDC’s Lawyers in the Schools program. The program developed a rigorous set of projects with the high school student in mind over the past year. 

Ryan Sandrock of Sidley Austin was recognized for volunteering with JDC’s Law Academy program and because he was the Barristers Club committee chair for several years.

Since its inception in 1998, the JDC’s Bay Area Minority Law Student Scholarship Program has awarded 88 scholarships in the amount of over $1.5 million. The following Bay Area Minority Law Student Scholarship Program Committee members were honored for providing exceptional mentoring and support for scholarship recipients:  Commissioner Ronnie Caplane, Workers Comp Appeals Board; Justice Martin J. Jenkins of the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Amarra Lee, San Mateo District Attorney’s Office; Stuart Plunkett, Morrison & Foerster and Richard Zitrin, Carlson, Calladine & Peterson.

Marie Ma, The Gap, Inc., was honored for her JDC committee work for both the Lawyers in the Schools and Mock Trial programs. Additionally, she has volunteered hundreds of hours for the Law Academy program. She has participated as a panelist for JDC’s Destination Law School and recruited many of her colleagues to do the same.

The following Equality Committee Co-Chairs were honored for leading their committees to address current issues:

BASF’s Equality Committee on Women (also known as BASF’s No Glass Ceiling Initiative) Co-Chairs Patricia Gillette, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Erin MacLeod, WindRiver Systems.

BASF’s Equality Committee on LGBT Issues former Co-Chair Amy Todd-Gher, Valdez Noor Todd & Doyle  and current Co-Chair Rob Depew, Employment Law Resource Group.

Equality Committee on Disability Rights Chair: Cristina Rubke, Shartsis Friese and Heather Borlase, Bayer & Borlase.

BASF’s Equality Committee on Minorities Co-Chairs Paul Henderson, Office of the Mayor; Miriam Montesinos, Pelosi Law Group; Vid Prabhakaran, Davis Wright Tremaine and Quyen Ta, Keker & Van Nest.

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104