Friday, March 14, 2003
Attorney Walter Gordon Jr. to Receive 2003 Shattuck-Price Award
By LORELEI LAIRD, Staff Writer
Pioneering attorney Walter L. Gordon Jr., 95, has been named to receive this year’s Los Angeles County Bar Association Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award.
“A man who for the first 13 years of his practice was not even able to join [LACBA], for him to get an award from that organization has a tremendous significance,” Presiding Judge William C. Beverly of the Superior Court’s Appellate Division said. “It is something that everyone can rejoice in, for the bar as well as Mr. Gordon.”
Admitted to the State Bar in 1937, Gordon blazed a trail as one of the first African American attorneys in Los Angeles at a time when the city’s legal establishment remained segregated.
Beverly praised Gordon as unique not only for his role in the integration of the city’s legal community, but as an individual practicing law.
“The recipient of [the Shattuck-Price award] may not have had a complaint even filed against him, much less have it be true,” Beverly said. “It takes a special person to handle people in such a way that, for 63 years, your record is in that condition....I don’t want to say it’s unheard of, but if there are others who have followed that path I am not aware of it.”
Beverly also said the choice of Gordon for the award has double significance for the African American community because it shows how far the legal community has come.
“He knew men in the 1920s who practiced law,” Beverly said. “Those men had a connection to slavery”—either as former slaves themselves or as the children of slaves.
Gordon said if he stands out from his peers, it may be because he has tried to be honest and courteous throughout his career.
“These are little things, but they are very important to me,” he said. “I know so many lawyers who I think have done so much more than I have, and I am just pleased that maybe my average has been better than some of them.”
Gordon said he has no plans to retire.
“I physically feel fit and want to be active, and I would just wither up and die if I had to stay in the house,” he said. “I’m practicing now and I was in court yesterday.”
Gordon has also been presented with LACBA’s 2001 Career Achievement Award. He is a founding member of the John Langston Bar Association and a member of the National Bar Association, as well as of LACBA.
Awarded for outstanding dedication to the high principles of the legal profession and the administration of justice, the Shattuck-Price Award is LACBA’s highest honor. It is named after two former County Bar presidents who died in office, Edward S. Shattuck and Ira M. Price II.
The award will be presented at the County Bar’s 125th Birthday Celebration, to be held April 8 at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Incoming American Bar Association President Dennis Archer, a former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and former mayor of Detroit, will speak, along with California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company