Tuesday, July 29, 2008
State Bar Honors Michael Judge, S.F. Lawyer for Diversity Efforts
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar of California has selected Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael P. Judge and San Francisco attorney Mary Bailey Cranston to receive its 2008 Diversity Award, the organization announced yesterday.
The honorees will receive their awards at the State Bar’s annual meeting Sept. 27 in Monterey Bay.
The Los Angeles County Public Defenders Office is the largest criminal defense firm in the world, a press release issued by the county stated. Women comprise more than 50 percent of its staff and 40 percent of the attorneys are also ethnic minorities, the release said.
The Asian Pacific Islander Public Defender Association, Black Public Defender Association, Gay and Lesbian Public Defender Association, Latino Public Defender Association and the Women’s Public Defender Association represent more than 350 deputy public defenders and nominated Judge for the award.
In a statement, the associations credited Judge with making diversity in the staff and management a “top priority” and ensuring “a safe working environment for employees without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or physical disability.”
State Bar President Jeffrey L. Bleich said Judge was being saluted “as a leader that has brought honor to the entire legal profession and as an individual that has made a significant impact in diversifying our profession,” and commended Judge for his “long-term commitment to diversity and significant accomplishments in increasing access and fairness in the legal profession.”
Cranston, a senior partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and the immediate past chair of the firm, said she was “very honored” to receive the award. She said like she was receiving it “on behalf of a very large army of people” who share credit for diversifying the workforce.
She is the former chair of the “No Glass-Ceiling Initiative,” working with law firms and corporate agencies to increase the number of women in leadership positions. The program which met with great success, she opined, as evidenced by the large number of women in leadership positions in the San Francisco area.
The Stanford Law School graduate said she was the first woman elected to run a global-100 law firm, which placed her in a position to talk about some of the issues women face in business and law.
“I made it one of my priorities to make sure I spoke the truth about these things,” Cranston said, especially because she was “kind of at the pioneer phase of women in business.”
She said she was inspired by her own life experiences, as well as those of her twin sister, who was one of the first female vascular surgeons in the country, “to make the work world a more even playing field for my daughter and future granddaughters.”
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.”
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company