Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, October 2, 2017


Page 3


Buckley, Meyer, Prager to Be Feted at 30th ‘Persons of the Year’ Dinner


By a MetNews Staff Writer



Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge


Los Angeles County Bar Association President


Southwestern Law School Dean/Chief Executive Officer


Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Daniel J. Buckley, Los Angeles County Bar Association President Michael E. Meyer, and Southwestern Law School Dean Susan Westerberg Prager have been designated by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise as 2017 “persons of the year,” and each will be honored on Jan. 26 at the 30th annual “POY” dinner.

In a special section of the MetNews in early January, biographies of the honorees and tributes to them will appear.

The black-tie dinner will be held at a private club in downtown Los Angeles. Club rules preclude mentioning it other than in invitations—and an invitation appears on the MetNews website.

For the 22nd time, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Robert H. Philibosian, now of counsel to Sheppard Mullin, will serve as emcee.

Heads Massive Court

With 22 years of experience in private practice, Buckley was appointed to the Superior Court in 2002 by then-Gov. Gray Davis, and now, with 15 years on the bench, he is heading the largest unified trial court in the nation.

When he declared his candidacy for assistant presiding judge in 2014, he drew no opponents. He served at that post in 2015 and 2016.

By tradition, he ascended to the top post without opposition.

Prior to becoming assistant presiding judge, he was supervisor of the civil courts.

Buckley earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at Notre Dame.

He was described Friday by MetNews Editor/Co-Publisher Roger M. Grace as “highly adept, personable, without detractors.”

Seeks Reforms

Meyer last year headed a slate of “reform” candidates in the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s first contested election in 25 years. The slate captured each office for which it put up a candidate, and Meyer became president-elect.

He automatically ascended to the presidency in July.

LACBA has been suffering in recent years from a rapidly declining membership and shriveling financial reserves—while, at the same time, giving money away to charitable causes. It has been criticized for excessive secrecy and efforts to regiment the sections.

Meyer promised changes.

“He’s true to his word,” Grace commented. “LACBA is decidedly on the upswing under his deft guidance.”

The lawyer, whose JD is from the University of Chicago School of Law, is chairman of DLA Piper’s Los Angeles offices and is a nationally recognized authority on leases.

Two Law Schools

Prager has been dean and chief executive officer of Southwestern since 2013. It’s her second stint as a law school dean; she served in that capacity at UCLA from 1982-98, the longest tenure of any dean there.

She was the first woman dean at both institutions.

Immediately prior to coming to Southwestern, she was executive director and chief executive officer of the Association of American Law Schools for five years.

Prager has also served as provost of Dartmouth College and president of Occidental College.

She received her JD from UCLA in 1971 and was editor-in-chief of the law review there.

Early in her career—from 1964-65—she was research assistant to U.S. Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel of California, now deceased, who was Senate Republican whip. She later served as administrative assistant to then-Assemblyman John G. Veneman of Modesto, also deceased, and as an aide to then-U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey.

“She is extraordinarily accomplished,” Grace remarked, “yet down-to-earth and personable.”

Former Honorees

Counting the 2017 “persons of the year,” there have been 57 honorees, starting in 1983. The first five—Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Mildred L. Lillie, California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk, Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Lester Wm. Roth, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Parker (all deceased), and then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Billy G. Mills (now retired)— were recognized only in print, with the remaining 52 also being toasted at a dinner.

The annual dinners began in 1988. Then-Los Angeles Superior Court Executive Officer Frank Zolin was the honoree, and former Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Joseph Wapner, then star of television’s “People’s Court,” was the emcee. Both are now deceased.

 “Persons of the year” in the years to follow have included two chief justices, four Court of Appeal presiding justices (and three future presiding justices), five Los Angeles Superior Court presiding judges (including Buckley), three assistant presiding judges of that court, two U.S. District Court judges, a state attorney general, four State Bar presidents (and one future president of that group), three Los Angeles County Bar Association presidents, two district attorneys, two sheriffs, and two county supervisors.


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