Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, September 15, 2014


Page 1


Joanne Garvey, ‘Founding Mother’ of CWL, Dies at 79


By a MetNews Staff Writer


San Francisco attorney Joanne M. Garvey, an original organizer of California Women Lawyers and the first woman ever to serve on the Board of Governors of the State Bar, and a leading figure in the American Bar Association, has died at 79.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, where Garvey was a partner, said in a statement on its website that the 50-year-plus practitioner died Thursday. Garvey was a member of Sheppard Mullin’s tax practice and specialized in issues of state and local taxation.

“Joanne was an amazing lawyer who received many well-deserved awards, created and led organizations, provided training and numerous opportunities for others, and broke many a glass ceiling,” Sheppard Mullin San Francisco co-managing partner Betsy McDaniel said in the statement “She served her clients well.  We were so fortunate to have her join us at Sheppard Mullin.  Before the word ‘mentor’ was widely used as it is today, Joanne was one – to both woman and men.  She was generous with her time and her concern for others.  Joanne was one of a kind, played a great game of basketball, and will be greatly missed.”

Garvey had joined Sheppard Mullin from Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, which dissolved in 2008. She had gone to Heller Ehrman in 1988 from Jordan, Keeler and Seligman, where she had practiced for 25 years, after starting her career with a Santa Barbara firm, where she was the only woman lawyer at the firm and one of only two in the city.  

CWL President Neda Mansoorian paid tribute to Garvey Friday, saying:

“California Women Lawyers benefitted profoundly from the historic and ground-breaking work of our founding mother, Joanne Garvey—a feminist visionary, a trailblazer.  

“Although Joanne passed on the morning of her beloved organization’s 40th anniversary celebration and was missed greatly, we hope she was smiling and proud of us.

“CWL owes tremendous gratitude to Joanne, who, 40 years ago, at a state bar conference much like this weekend’s in San Diego, rose and bravely uttered 8 words that had never before been heard:  ‘I rise on behalf of California Women Lawyers’!  California was never the same.”

Garvey was “a pillar of the organized bar, both state and national,” former Los Angeles   County Bar Association Harry Hathaway said, recalling her work in various sections and committees of the ABA, and as a member of its House of Delegates and Board of Governors.

Garvey became the first woman to represent California in the House of Delegates by beating Hathaway in an election.

She beat him “fair and square,” Hathaway explained.

“That was the era of women’s empowerment. Women voted for women…and she got enough of the men to win.”

Garvey graduated from UC Berkeley in 1957 and from its law school in 1961. She was admitted to the State Bar in 1962.

She went on to become the first woman president of the San Francisco Barristers and the first woman president of the Bar Association of San Francisco. She helped launch the State Bar’s Taxation Section—the bar’s first section — and later received its first lifetime achievement award, which is named after her.

“What I have always tried to do,” she said in a 2003 interview with the State Bar Journal, “is have coattails.”

Garvey was one of five recipients of the ABA Commission on Women’s 2003 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, named after America’s first woman lawyer.

After receiving a master’s degree in history from UC Berkeley, she worked as a playground director for a year before going to what was then Boalt Hall. Garvey was one of just five women in her graduating class.

As a leading tax lawyer, she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. She also played on a basketball team that won a silver medal in the 2001 Senior Olympics.


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