Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, August 22, 2008


Page 3


State Bar Bestows Public Service Award on Los Angeles Attorney


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The State Bar of California has selected Los Angeles appellate attorney Richard Rothschild to receive the association’s highest award for service to the public, the organization announced yesterday.

The 59-year old director of litigation for the Western Center on Law and Poverty will be presented with the Loren Miller Legal Services Award at the State Bar’s annual meeting Sept. 27 in Monterey Bay.

A graduate of Yale University and USC Law School, Rothschild has spent his entire 32-year career with the center. He called his work “rewarding” as the “ideal combination of intellectually challenging work…and the opportunity to work with really nice people,” and advised anyone considering a career in public service to “just do it and you won’t regret it.”

Rothschild served as principal counsel in Serrano v. Priest, a landmark education case where the California Supreme Court overturned the then-existing system of school funding based on local property taxes to ensure state-wide equality in public school education.

He also served as principal counsel in: Hunt v. Superior Court, where the California Supreme Court held that counties must provide health care to all indigent residents; Nelson v. Board of Supervisors, which held that a county may not prevent homeless people from receiving subsistence General Assistance payments on the ground they lack a valid residential address; and Gardner v. Los Angeles, which invalidated Los Angeles County’s attempt to reduce General Assistance cash payments to offset the alleged value of health care provided by the county and led to a $60 million settlement.

“I haven’t done any of the cases at Western Center by myself,” he said. “I always had great co-counsel, and I’m happy to accept the award on behalf of everyone I’ve ever worked with.”

Retired Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson praised Johnson for providing “appellate advocacy of the highest caliber, the kind otherwise available only to the wealthiest clients and the largest corporations and institutions” to California’s poor.

The award was created in 1977 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the State Bar and is given annually to a lawyer who has demonstrated long-term commitment to legal services and who has personally done significant work in extending legal services to the poor. It is named after the late Loren Miller, an African American lawyer and judge who was a leader in the civil rights movement.

In other news, San Diego attorney Natalie Prescott will receive the 2008 Jack Berman Award of Achievement for Distinguished Service to the Profession and the Public.

The 28-year old is a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California and will join Latham & Watkins San Diego’s office later this year to work on appellate litigation and insurance cases.

The California Young Lawyers Association established the award in 1992 to recognize the public service achievements of a young lawyer or a lawyer in his or her first five years of practice. The following year the award was named in memory of Jack Berman, a young lawyer who served as the pro bono chair for Pettit & Martin and was killed in the 1993 shooting at the firm’s offices at 101 California Street in San Francisco.

Also as previously reported, the Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael P. Judge and San Francisco attorney Mary Bailey Cranston will receive the State Bar’s 2008 Diversity Award.  The Bar Association of San Francisco was named as a third recipient yesterday as well.

The diversity awards were established in 2001 by the Board of Governors to recognize “outstanding efforts made by a bar association or an individual attorney in promoting diversity in the legal profession and to recognize efforts ensuring the full and equal opportunity of all persons for entry and advancement in California’s legal profession.”


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