Friday, March 27, 2009
LACBA Selects Justice Zelon for Shattuck-Price Award
Executive Director Stuart A. Forsyth Announces Retirement
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County Bar Association has selected Justice Laurie D. Zelon of this district’s Court of Appeal, Div. Seven, to receive the organization’s highest honor, the Shattuck-Price Outstanding Attorney Award.
The selection of Zelon was one of two major announcement’s made at Wednesday night’s meeting of the association’s board. The other was that its executive director, Stuart A. Forsyth, plans to step down from his position at the end of November.
The Shattuck-Price award is named after two County Bar presidents who died in office, Edward S. Shattuck and Ira M. Price II, and is awarded for “outstanding dedication to the high principles of the legal profession and the administration of justice.”
It will be presented to Zelon, who could not be reached for comment, at LACBA’s annual installation dinner June 17.
Mirian Aroni Krinsky, a former LACBA president and Shattuck-Price Award Committee Chair, said selecting Zelon as this year’s recipient of the award was “an easy decision.”
Krinsky said that ever since she met the justice 25 years ago, while in her final year of law school, she has looked to Zelon as “a mentor and role model,” who “has never stopped fighting to create an open and equal court…and inspires others to be a part of that fight along with her.”
Zelon is “one of those individuals who never says no when asked to participate in the newest initiative or to chair the latest task force or to be part of yet another project,” Krinsky said.
Zelon was named the chair of the Judicial Council’s Elkins Family Law Task Force last year. The task force was charged with forming recommendations to improve family law proceedings and statewide rules of practice and procedure in order to preserve and increase access to justice, especially for self-represented litigants.
She is also in the final year of her three-year term as a member of the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors.
Zelon has been a member of the ABA since 1978 and has served as the chair of the Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Public Service Responsibility, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project and the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. She also has served on several ABA entities, including the Consortium on Law and the Public, the Task Force on Domestic Violence and the Ethics 2000 Commission.
The justice has also been president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, a member of its board of trustees, and chair of its Federal Courts Committee, its Judiciary Committee, its Access to Justice Committee, and its subsection on Real Estate Litigation
In 2000 the State Bar of California chose Zelon to receive the Loren Miller Legal Services Award, presented annually to an attorney who demonstrates a long-term commitment to legal services for the poor.
That same year the Pro Bono Institute in Washington, D.C. named the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award in her honor, and made her its first recipient.
Zelon is a former chair of the California Commission on Access to Justice, and has been a member of several statewide judicial committees addressing administration of justice issues.
Additionally, the justice has written articles and spoken at educational programs for judges and lawyers concerning pro bono, public service, legal ethics and legal education.
Born in Durham, N.C., Zelon graduated from Cornell University in 1974 and Harvard Law School in 1977.
She was a partner with Hufstedler, Kaus & Ettinger and with Morrison & Foerster, before being appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by then-Gov. Gray Davis in 2000.
Davis appointed her to the Court of Appeal in 2003.
LACBA President Dannette E. Meyers praised Zelon’s pro bono service to the legal community “second to none,” adding that she “couldn’t think of anyone more deserving” of the award than Zelon, whom she praised as “a wonderful, wonderful jurist and human being.”
Meyers also said that the organization is putting together a committee, headed by Senior Vice President Alan K. Steinbrecher and Vice President Eric A. Webber to find a new executive director once Forsyth steps down in November.
Forsyth said that his five-year contract with the organization will be expiring Nov. 30 and that he plans to return to a consulting business which he had “mothballed” while serving LACBA.
“I’ve done what I came here to do and I think the bar is in good shape to move forward,” he said, explaining that he came to assist the organization in the “potentially sensitive and difficult transition” after predecessor Rich Walch—who served as the executive director for over 20 years—stepped down in 2005.
Although Forsyth acknowledges that there is “still lots to do,” he said he wanted to give the board as much time as possible to find his successor and to try and ensure a “smooth hand off of the ball.”
For the four years before joining LACBA, Forsyth ran a consulting firm called The Legal Futurist, providing long-range strategic planning services to bar associations, law firms, courts, judges and CLE providers, among others.
Forsyth had been a consultant to the American Bar Association’s Committee on Research About the Future of the Legal Profession and was a founding member of the Association of Professional Futurists.
A former executive director of the State Bar of Arizona, Forsyth served in various legal and senior management positions at the State Bar of California for 24 years and practiced law with the appellate and education law firm of Johnson & Stanton in San Francisco.
Forsyth obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics from Occidental College in Los Angeles and his law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He has completed the coursework for a master’s degree in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, with a focus on the future of the legal profession and has taught at the University of Phoenix at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
While Forsyth said he will miss the leadership, staff and members of the organization, he promised he will never be too far away, even after he steps down.
“I’m 9.3 miles from the office,” he quipped.
Other orders of business that the board attended to included the presentation of the framed text of a resolution honoring Trustee Pamela E. Dunn, who passed away on Christmas, to her long-time partner, Maria “Ria” Cousineau of Sedgwick Detert Moran & Arnold, their son Cary, and their daughter Casey.
The board also heard a presentation by the non-profit organization BookEnds, which recycles children’s books to develop libraries in schools and youth organizations. Meyers asked individuals interested in participating in a book drive to bring used children’s books to the LACBA new office, located at 1055 West 7th Street, Suite 2700, in downtown Los Angeles.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company