Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, September 19, 2003


Page 1


Vilma Martinez to Receive LAFLA’s Toll Award


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Munger, Tolles & Olson litigator Vilma Martinez is this year’s recipient of  the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Maynard Toll Award for Distinguished Public Service, the foundation said yesterday.

The award, which will be presented at the foundation’s annual Access to Justice Dinner on Oct. 14, is “given to people whose distinguished records...are in the best tradition of the legal profession,” LAFLA development director Kathleen Sheldon told the MetNews.

Martinez, the former president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, has not only distinguished herself within the profession, but is a “groundbreaking Latina” who has brought diversity to a number of corporate boards, Sheldon noted. 

Martinez has served as a director of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., Fluor Corp., and Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. She has also served on the boards of nonprofit groups, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the California Community Foundation.

She was a regent of the University of California from 1976 to 1990, chairing the board from 1984 to 1986.

The Maynard Toll Award, named after its first recipient, was established in 1985 by the foundation to honor members of the bar for their commitment to public service and to providing legal services to the poor. Last year’s recipient was U.S. District Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian Jr. of the Central District of California.

Other past recipients include Chief Justice Ronald M. George, Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Richard A. Paez, U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow, former U.S. Secretary of Education Shirley M. Hufstedler, and Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson Jr. of this district’s Div. Seven.

Martinez joined Munger, Tolles & Olson as a partner in 1982. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas in 1964 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1967.

She started her legal career as a staff attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1967, then joined the prominent New York firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel as a litigation associate before taking the MALDEF position in 1973.

She has been previously honored for her various achievements by the American Bar Association, Columbia Law School, the University of Texas, the Mexican-American Bar Association, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Institute for Public Service, the California School of Professional Psychology and Amherst College.

Also to be honored by LAFLA on Oct. 14 is actress/producer Amy Brenneman, who created and stars in “Judging Amy.” The award-winning weekly CBS television show is based on the experiences of Brenneman’s mother, a retired Connecticut family court judge who has served as advisor on the series.

Brenneman will receive the Access to Justice Award, which was created in 1999 to recognize “distinguished individuals for their dedication to social causes and the justice system and their support of LAFLA’s mission to provide equal access to justice,” LAFLA explained in a release.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company