Monday, December 11, 2009
Ordin Poised to Become First Woman County Counsel
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is poised to name former federal, state and local prosecutor and former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Andrea S. Ordin as county counsel on Tuesday, the MetNews has learned.
If confirmed by the board, Ordin—currently senior counsel in the Los Angeles office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and vice president of the Los Angeles Police Commission—would be the first woman to become the county’s top lawyer.
She would replace Robert E. Kalunian, who has served as acting county counsel since April after the retirement of Raymond G. Fortner. Kalunian said he will be returning to the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office if the board votes to appoint Ordin, and said he has no reason to doubt that they will do so.
Ordin, who served as LACBA president from 1991 to 1992, would receive an annual salary of $295,000, effective Feb. 1, and oversee a staff of more than 250 lawyers providing legal services to the supervisors and county departments.
The position would represent the latest in a series of high-profile, and sometimes groundbreaking, government jobs during Ordin’s 43-year career as an attorney.
Attorney General’s Office
After attending college and law school at UCLA, Ordin was admitted to the State Bar in 1966 and spent seven years handling civil, criminal and constitutional cases in the California Attorney General’s Office.
She served briefly as LACBA’s executive director in the 1970’s before being named in 1975 by then-Los Angeles County District Attorney John Van de Kamp as the first female assistant district attorney, the office’s third-highest job.
Van de Kamp said yesterday that, at the time, he was “very interested in a sign that [the office] was a great place for women.” He commented that Ordin, then 35, was exactly what he was looking for: a “competent and able lawyer who would do well in the office” and who was female.
“I’m glad I was able to steal her away from LACBA,” he recalled.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ordin as the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, where she was the first woman to serve in the post and the third to serve as a U.S. attorney in the country.
Ordin rejoined Van de Kamp after he became California attorney general in 1983, and served as chief assistant attorney general in charge of the Public Rights Division. The division is responsible for all environmental, consumer, anti-trust, charitable trust and civil rights litigation for the state.
Van de Kamp, who later became president of the State Bar, said Ordin’s would be a “terrific appointment.” Noting that he had worked with her closely for 12 years, he said she was “a fine lawyer and great administrator with a winning personality who gives straightforward, good advice.”
Nossaman LLP attorney Lloyd W. Pellman—who served as county counsel from 1998 to 2004 and worked with Ordin on a “special matter” he declined to disclose—said that Ordin’s qualifications were “tremendous” given her state and federal background and the position she occupies in the legal community.
Remarking that he was honored that Ordin would be appointed to the position he once held, Pellman said she was “absolutely great, extremely professional, very knowledgeable, very articulate and a quick study” and “above reproach.”
Kalunian commented that he did not know Ordin personally, but said her broad range of experience made her “a very good choice.” He predicted she would be “welcomed and supported by the staff.”
In addition to her public and private practice, Ordin has been deeply involved in oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department. In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, she was named to the Christopher Commission, which investigated the factors that led to the beating of Rodney King and subsequent uprising.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who chaired the commission, said in a statement that Ordin “has demonstrated a deep commitment to public service throughout her entire career, and with her deep knowledge of Los Angeles and fine legal skills, she will be a great asset to the County.”
In the book “Official Negligence,” author Lou Cannon credited Ordin with the decision to include blatantly bigoted and sexist police e-mail messages in the Christopher Commission’s report to help better capture the department’s internal culture and keep “the report from being an overly dry statistical analysis.”
In 2005, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Ordin to the Police Commission, the five member civilian board that oversees LAPD policy and practices, and she was elected vice president of the commission earlier this year.
Ordin’s current practice is focused on complex business and environmental litigation, appellate litigation and internal corporate investigations.
A former adjunct professor at UCLA’s law school, she is also a frequent author and panelist for continuing legal education programs.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company