Thursday, September 23, 2010
Justice Laurie Zelon to Receive 2010 Aranda Access to Justice Award
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Justice Laurie D. Zelon of the Court of Appeal for this district will receive the 2010 Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award, officials said yesterday.
Named for the founding chair of the Judicial Council’s Access and Fairness Advisory Committee, the award honors a trial judge or an appellate justice whose activities demonstrate a long-term commitment to improving access to justice. It is co-sponsored by the California Commission on Access to Justice, Judicial Council, State Bar and California Judges Association.
In choosing Zelon, officials cited her “tireless commitment to improving access to the courts, her efforts to promote pro bono work among law professionals, and her dedication to ensuring that legal services be available to those most in need.”
Retired Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson Jr., the 2004 recipient of the award, opined that Zelon “more than deserves” the honor.
“As someone who received the Aranda Award a few years ago, I can truthfully say no judge ever has done as much to merit this honor as Justice Laurie Zelon,” he remarked.
Justice Maria P. Rivera of the First District Court of Appeal said that Zelon “personifies the Benjamin Aranda Award,” since she has “labored continually, arduously, and passionately to make ‘justice for all’ a meaningful phrase” and “has been very effective in those efforts because she is dedicated, smart, tenacious, and politically adept.”
Zelon graduated from Harvard Law School in 1977 and was admitted to the State Bar of California the same year. She was an associate at the firm of Beardsley, Hufstedler & Kemble from 1977 to 1982; a member of Hufstedler, Kaus & Ettinger from 1983 to 1991; and a member of Morrison & Foerster from 1991 to 2000, all in their Los Angeles offices. She was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2000 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2003.
She became active in the American Bar Association early in her legal career, beginning in the Young Lawyers Division, where she served on the Delivery of Legal Services Committee and chaired the Delivery and Pro Bono Projects Committee.
From 1994 to 1997, Zelon chaired the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and was a member of the Consortium on Legal Services and the Public, an umbrella group formed from other committees to coordinate pro bono efforts, during a time when legal aid funding was threatened by Congress. Zelon testified before Congress on behalf of the ABA in support of the Legal Services Corporation.
The justice has also been active state and local bar programs focused on the delivery of legal services, serving as president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, a member of the State Bar’s Access to Justice Working Group and the founding chair of the California Commission on Access to Justice.
Zelon also was a member of the Judicial Council’s Task Force on Self-Represented Litigants and worked with LACBA and Public Counsel to create the Pro Per Pilot Project, which offers representation to indigent litigants.
She has served on the Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness since 2001 and has been a member of its Racial and Ethnic Fairness Subcommittee and Economic Access Subcommittee. She also co-chairs the Sexual Orientation Subcommittee and recently served as chair of the Judicial Council’s Elkins Family Law Task Force.
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