Monday, April 15, 2002
Lawyers Ryu, Sharrieff Elected to Board of CYLA
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
Los Angeles lawyers Francis S. Ryu and Excel A. Sharrieff have been elected to the board of the California Young Lawyers Association, an agency of the State Bar that serves lawyers who have practiced for less than 10 years or who are age 35 or under.
Elections for the CYLA board were scheduled to begin later this month, but they were scrapped for the Los Angeles delegates and Ryu and Sharrieff were deemed elected when nominations closed without anyone filing to run against them.
Ryu, 34, said he wanted to make sure new lawyers are not neglected as more firms put business development ahead of professional growth and training.
“Young lawyers don’t receive the kind of training they should be receiving,” Ryu said. “What I observe more and more is incredibly bright young lawyers who are insecure, who are not developing their best skills as they should be, because of the focus on the bottom line. I want to make sure that they get the mentoring they require and the assistance, without the feeling that they will get their heads chewed off by the senior partner for being an idiot whenever they ask a question.”
Ryu now practices with Gelfand Rappaport & Glaser in Santa Monica. But he says he started out with a larger firm that didn’t support his devotion to legal community activities.
He said he felt like he had to apologize for his service to the Beverly Hills Bar Association Barristers, where he serves as president, or on bar boards and foundations.
“Whenever I went to a board meeting I felt like I had to sneak out of the office,” he said. “Large law firms take the best people and shortchange them.”
Ryu was born in South Korea and grew up in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles. He earned his undergraduate degree from USC and his law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. He also received a master’s in international business law from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
He practices general business law, both litigation and transactional work.
Sharrieff, 32, said he was inspired to go to law school after a clerking job with the law office of Johnnie Cochran. After graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta and Pepperdine University School of Law, he faced the daunting task of starting his own firm, but he said he was able to make a go of it because of help from other lawyers.
He also has emphasized community involvement and said he wants to make sure other lawyers do the same.
“I want to foster respect for the law as far as the general public is concerned,” Sharrieff said. Our young colleagues should take as many ethical courses as possible and should hold up a high standard for our profession.
He called young lawyers the bridge between the lay public and the legal establishment, and said newer attorneys could better relate to non-lawyer clients who have trouble with “legalese” or have a less than high view of the legal profession.
He echoed Ryu’s call for a smaller emphasis on billing and a greater focus on pro bono work.
“When you’re working at a large firm, there is a lot of pressure to bill hours,” Sharrieff said. “And then a young lawyer is drained at the end of the day and has no energy for service. I would like to see more respect for pro bono work. It starts at the top [of law firm leadership] and it trickles down.”
Sharrieff’s own practice includes both criminal defense and civil litigation. He has recently hired on an attorney to handle entertainment law.
Ryu and Sharrieff take their CYLA board seats in October.
It is not yet clear whether the CYLA will conduct any balloting at all this year. Attorney Lesley Weaver was deemed elected in the district that covers San Francisco and Marin County, and Megan Clark captured the seat for the district that includes Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Bernardino, Kern and Riverside counties, because no one filed to run against them either.
No one signed up to run for the Orange County district seat before the close of the nomination period, so State Bar officials extended the period for that seat by a week. They now have one candidate, who may be deemed elected if no one else signs up to run by the close of the new nomination period this evening.
Current CYLA President Steven F. Kaufhold of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in San Francisco said the dearth of candidates this year may have something to do with a lack of time for young lawyers to devote to professional activities outside of work.
“I wouldn’t say it’s typical that there are no contested elections,” he said. “Some years they are contested and some years they aren’t. I don’t think it’s a lack of interest, but rather the press of time.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company