Awards

OUR AWARDS:

Fay Stender Award
Judith Soley Lawyer As Citizen Award
Rose Bird Memorial Award
Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award

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CWL Announces Winners of 2020 Annual Awards:

California Women Lawyers is pleased to announce the 2020 winners of our four signature awards – two honoring judicial officers and two honoring attorneys.

Rose Bird Memorial Award
Hon. Anita Santos, Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa

The Rose Bird Memorial Award is presented annually to a Northern California judge who is courageous and compassionate, exhibits brilliance and excellence, demonstrates a devotion to public service, and inspires the women lawyers of California.

The award's namesake, Rose Bird, was the first female California Supreme Court justice and the first female Chief Justice. Chief Justice Bird was actively engaged in civil service prior to joining the bench. This year’s award winner, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Anita Santos, has similarly devoted her life to vigorous and varied public service.

The daughter of immigrants from Cape Verde, Judge Santos put herself through law school, working as a police dispatcher with the City of Concord Police Department, later becoming a patrol officer. Upon passing the Bar, she joined the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, where she served for eleven years. After running her own family law practice for a few years, Judge Santos went on to become a child support commissioner. Two years later, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Judge Santos to the Contra Costa County bench in 2014, where she currently serves in a felony criminal trial assignment. Her passion for mentoring and for actively encouraging other women to join the bench is well known, as is her commitment to diversity, exemplified by her founding of the Diversity Section of the Contra Costa Bar Association.

Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award
Hon. Louise A. LaMothe, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Central District of California

The Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award honors a Southern California judge each year, recognizing excellence as a jurist and longstanding vigorous service and inspiration to the women lawyers of California.

Central District U.S. Magistrate Judge Louise A. LaMothe will receive the 2020 Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award. Currently serving part-time as a magistrate judge for the Central District in Santa Barbara, Judge LaMothe also serves as a professional arbitrator and mediator.

Attending Stanford Law School at a time when there were no women law professors, and only a handful of women judges, Judge LaMothe immediately began working to ensure that women coming behind her would have the support and role models she had lacked. Beginning her career at the University of Kansas law school, she quickly moved on to Irell & Manella where she became the firm’s first woman partner and member of the firm’s executive committee. Judge LaMothe distinguished herself in the male-dominated litigation world, setting an example by serving in the firm’s leadership roles and also mentoring more junior women by actively teaching them how to navigate firm culture, develop clients, and hone litigation skills. Judge LaMothe also opened doors for women via her long service at the ABA Section of Litigation, then and now the ABA’s largest section, and at NITA.

CWL established the “Distinguished Jurist” award in 1994. Its first recipient was Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, a CWL founder and a champion of women's rights.

Judith Soley Lawyer as Citizen Award
Laura W. Brill

Laura W. Brill, Certified Appellate Specialist, and founding partner at Kendall Brill Kelly in Los Angeles, will receive CWL's 2020 Judith Soley Lawyer as Citizen Award. A former law clerk of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Brill’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation and appeals in media, entertainment, commercial, and regulatory matters.

The Soley award is named for a longtime CWL board member who was active in her Fresno County legal community and in the greater world around her before being killed by the husband of a client during a lunch break in their divorce proceedings. The Soley Award recognizes attorneys who have made a significant contribution to their community, extending beyond the practice of law, to devote time and effort to the public good through public service and community involvement, and who demonstrate a commitment to the mission of CWL.

Founder of The Civics Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a foundation for civic engagement and voter participation, Brill used little known law and procedure to increase voter pre-registration for high school students in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Joining with others around the nation, Brill’s efforts have led to students nationwide using The Civics Center’s “Democracy in a Box” toolkit to engage high school students in the democratic process and to build a habit of civic engagement. Brill writes articles for a variety of outlets and actively participates in panel presentations on issues of voting rights as well as judicial independence.

Fay Stender Award
Rose Carmen Goldberg

San Francisco attorney Rose Carmen Goldberg will be honored with CWL’s 2020 Fay Stender Award.

The award, named for Bay Area attorney Fay Stender who passed away in 1980, is given to a feminist attorney, who, like Stender, is committed to the representation of women, disadvantaged groups and unpopular causes, and whose courage, zest for life and demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual makes her a role model for women attorneys.

Currently serving in the Public Rights Division of the California Attorney General’s office in San Francisco, Goldberg engages in affirmative civil and criminal litigation to enforce laws prohibiting fraud and predatory practices. A graduate of St. John’s College, Columbia University, and Yale Law School, Goldberg has also devoted her considerable energy and ability to advocating for military veterans, including persons who have been improperly dishonorably discharged from the military and, as a result, were unable to obtain veterans’ benefits. Whether through direct representation, active participation on expert panels, or her writings, she is a zealous advocate for persons who have been victims of military sexual trauma. A Wall Street Journal op-ed Goldberg authored about how VA policy harmed veterans who, like her Purple Heart-recipient client, had less than honorable discharges, led the VA to change policy. Goldberg has also advocated to improve care for and protect the rights of terminally ill hospice patients and female inmates. As one colleagues wrote of Goldberg, “When she sees injustice, she makes sure others do too, and pushes society to look in the mirror and change.”