On December 14, the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) hosted its first Annual Membership Luncheon in person after three years. More than 250 seats were filled at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. We were thrilled and grateful to have everyone join us in celebrating accomplishments, reflecting on challenges, and sharing inspiring stories in the past year. While bidding farewell to the outgoing Board members, we welcomed new members and honored individuals who have shown exceptional commitment to BASF and its Justice and Diversity Center (JDC) in 2022.
“We hosted nearly 300 CLEs and networking events this year, which provided legal education and critical networking opportunities… JDC once again provided over $90 million dollars and free legal services to those who otherwise would not have legal services available to them; and JDC awarded $120,000 in New minority law student scholarships this year,” said Yolanda Jackson, BASF’s Executive Director and General Counsel and its JDC’s Executive Director.
Outgoing 2022 Board President Mary McNamara continued by thanking all directors and officers for their services. During McNamara’s tenure, she took responsive action to convene the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights Task Force (LARR) when the SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade. In partnership with the SF City Attorney's Office, McNamara led a small team of BASF members to get over 70 law firms to commit to providing pro bono legal services to abortion seekers, funders, providers, protesters, abortion supporters, and employers nationwide.
“We're not going to stand for the denigration of women, for the begging of their health, for killing them, so that they can appease some moral idea of what it is to be in society. We stood up for women, we continue to stand up for women, nobody is going to die on our watch,” McNamara explained. “This is the promise of access to justice. In this time of great constitutional discipline disagreement, and convulsion challenge, we make our community, we make our city, we make our country better. This, this law organization is about making us as citizens of this great country better of making America better. That's what we've always done. And that is what we're going to continue to do for the next 150 years.”
She later presented the Awards of Merits to the following professionals: Rebecca Bers, Office of City Attorney David Chiu; David Kelly, Golden State Warriors/Golden State Entertainment; Joshua Ridless, Ridless Law Office; Tony Schoenberg, Farella Braun + Martel; Jamie Dupree, Futterman Dupree Dodd Croley Maier; Simona Agnolucci, Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Kelly Dermody, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; Teresa Johnson, Arnold & Porter; and Mary McNamara, Swanson & McNamara.
Rebecca Bers, Deputy City Attorney in the Office of City Attorney David Chiu, is the current chair of BASF’s Litigation Section. She has dedicated many hours of her time to this role including leading the Litigation Section to have the BASF Board adopt a resolution on CourtScribes to support their pilot program to provide free support for Zoom and telephonic access at the San Francisco Superior Court (SF Superior).
David Kelly is the Chief Legal Officer at Golden State Warriors and Chief Business Officer at Golden State Entertainment and a member of the BASF Board of Directors. He has been very dedicated to both BASF and JDC during his time on both Boards of Directors. He has participated in and helped to coordinate several high-profile CLE programs that included general counsel from the San Francisco Giants, the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland A’s and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Joshua Ridless is the named partner of the Ridless Law Office. Since 2019, Josh has been Chair of the BASF SF-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) Committee. Over the last several years, Josh led the committee through navigating recommendations and decisions for BASF SF-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) throughout the pandemic. As a result of these decisions, the LRIS Public Service Program has nearly doubled the number of clients it serves, due in large part to Josh’s foresight and guidance.
Tony Schoenberg, a partner at Farella Braun + Martel and serves on the BASF Board of Directors, is the Chair of the BASF Civility Task Force. He led the task force group of six people to develop a set of practical guidelines for the San Francisco Superior Court (SF Superior) to adopt and publicize to litigants and attorneys accessing SF Superior. Consequently, in November, the Court posted the BASF Civility Guidelines on their website and moving forward will distribute to all litigants/attorneys when they appear in new civil matters.
Jamie Dupree, a partner at Futterman Dupree Dodd Croley Maier, is a member of the BASF Board of Directors. Jamie provided outstanding pro bono legal counsel and advice to the Board and to the Audit Committee in connection with the discharge of their respective duties of governance and oversight. Jamie’s preeminent skill, dedication, wisdom and generosity was extremely valuable to the Board and to the Audit Committee.
Awards of Merit - Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights Task Force (LARR)
Simona Agnolucci is a partner at the Willkie Farr & Gallagher and a member of the JDC Board of Directors. Simona was instrumental in recruiting law firms to join LARR and in shaping the content of the LARR Summit. Simona participated in strategic planning meetings for LARR and devoted a great deal of her time to LARR.
Kelly Dermody contributed a great deal to LARR by helping to recruit law firms from across the country to join LARR and by accessing her vast network to identify prominent experts at abortion/gender/race/religion-related organizations to present at the LARR Summit. Kelly devoted an incredible amount of time to LARR and also participated in various strategic planning meetings.
Teresa Johnson is a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and a Past President of both the BASF and JDC Boards of Directors. Teresa worked very closely with Mary McNamara to help get LARR up and running. Teresa spent a large amount of time participating in information gathering and collaboration meetings with abortion organizations, medical organizations, technology organizations, and fielding questions from across the country about LARR. She was also very instrumental in recruiting law firms to join LARR.
Mary McNamara, a partner at Swanson & McNamara and the 2022 President of both the BASF and JDC Boards of Directors, convene a group of, now over 70 law firms, to be ready to respond with free legal services for abortion funders, seekers, supporters, and providers in the event that the SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. In collaboration with the Office of the City Attorney of San Francisco, Mary spearheaded this brilliant effort, now recognized nationally, and has spent countless hours carrying out the vision.
Outgoing Barristers Club President Lindsey Mignano shared the Barristers Club’s progress in its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) approach in 2022. “As a part of my initiative this year, I asked all Barristers directors to organize one diversity CLE. This is really important for our community, larger legal community, but also here in San Francisco. Of the 47 barristers events this year, 1/3 were focused on DEI.” Mignano then congratulated the Outstanding Barrister Awards recipients: Emily McGrath, Lawless, Lawless & McGrath; Jessica Ryland, Uber; and Cristina Piechocki, Littler Mendelson.
Outstanding Barrister Awards
Emily McGrath, a Partner at Lawless, Lawless & McGrath, has been an instrumental member of the Barristers Solo and Small Firm Executive Committee, serving as Chair. In her tenure, she has organized and promoted more than her fair share of CLEs and events.
Jessica Ryland, corporate counsel at Uber, served as the Barristers President in 2021. Jessica organized and expanded the Barristers In-House Committee, as well as served on a number of Barristers initiatives such as the Pro Bono Committee, Law Students Committee, and Diversity Committee. She continues to serve the Barristers today by securing corporate sponsorships for our various fundraising events.
Cristina Piechocki, an associate and employment attorney
at Littler Mendelson, has been incredibly dedicated to the Barristers Club and previously served as a Barristers Board Member. Her dedication has continued even after her Board term ended, including serving as a panelist at our recent Parents and Caregivers panel and as a member of the Barristers Board Nominating Committee, in addition to her continued leadership of the Judges Reception.
After the award presentations, McNamara passed the gavel to the incoming Board President Vidhya Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran started with his personal stories about starting his legal career in San Francisco and his first involvement with BASF.
“Every step, being connected to this organization, I watched the collective power that is possible through our connection. We can, we should take a great deal of personal satisfaction in being associated with an organization that has done so much to take care of the people of San Francisco, and has actively promoted San Francisco values across the region, the state, and across the whole country.”
As Prabhakaran continued, he shared how the pandemic has threatened the connection within the legal community and between friends and families. He then introduced his BASF initiatives of sparking reconnections and giving back to San Francisco. “Come back to your Bar Association. Enlist your friends and colleagues to join or rejoin the Bar Association. Bring your energy, your creativity, your hope. Commit to collective action through reconnection… help remind the world what it means to proudly say that we hold San Francisco values that we are San Francisco.”
Stay tuned for the full recording and more event photos in our social media channels!