International Law and Immigration

Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award Recipients

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The International Law and Immigration Section has recognized the following individuals for distinguished service in the promotion of the rule of law internationally or for significant achievement in the practice of international law.

2023: Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

At the upcoming 2023 CLA Annual Meeting, ILS will be honoring Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar who is the 2023 Warren Christopher Award Recipient. Currently, he is the tenth president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Cuéllar was formerly a Supreme Court Justice of California. He served two US presidents at the white house and in federal agencies. He is a member of the US Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

He has written several articles that address problems in international affairs. Before working at the White House, he was a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Project where he co-directed the working group on immigration, borders, and refugee policy. During the Obama Administration, he led the Domestic Policy Council’s work on various matters including immigration.

We hope to see you at the Warren Christopher Award Reception which will be held in the evening on September 22, 2023 (Friday) at the Hilton Bayfront, San Diego where we will be honoring Mr. Cuéllar for his work and achievements in the practice of international law.

2022: Daniel M. Kolkey

Daniel Kolkey

Daniel M. Kolkey has served as an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, and as Counsel to the Governor of California.  A partner in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 2003 to 2020, Mr. Kolkey was chair of the firm’s California Appellate Law Practice Group, a member of the firm’s national appellate and constitutional law practice group, and a member of its Litigation Department.  He is currently President of the California Supreme Court Historical Society. Read more here.

2021: Barry Fisher

Barry Fisher

Mr. Fisher, UCLA B.A.,J.D., U.Penn. Law School R.H.Smith Fellow, served on the multinational negotiation teams and as counsel in the German and Austrian Holocaust settlements, as well as court-appointed class counsel on the Swiss Banks Holocaust cases.  Mr. Fisher is a signatory to the resulting treaties with Germany and Austria.  He serves as counsel on behalf of Chinese, Korean and other Asian victims of the sexual slavery and slave labor systems of wartime Japan, and has served as court-appointed receiver in major securities fraud cases. He works on Kurdish issues in Turkey and elsewhere. Read more about him here.

2020: Justin Brooks

Justin Brooks is the Director and Co-Founder of the California Innocence Project and a Tenured Professor of Law at California Western School of Law in San Diego.  Over the course of his career, he has served as counsel on many high profile criminal cases and has exonerated more than 30 innocent people (including former NFL player Brian Banks). Professor Brooks has been recognized several times by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California, and in 2010 and 2012, California Lawyer Magazine honored him with the “Lawyer of the Year” award. Professor Brooks has founded innocence organizations throughout Latin America, speaks around the world about innocence work, and is the author of the only legal casebook devoted to the topic of wrongful convictions.  He is portrayed by Academy Award nominated actor Greg Kinnear in the feature film, “Brian Banks.”

2019: Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders practiced law with Latham & Watkins for more than 35 years, as a partner from 1978 to 2002 and as executive counsel from 2003 to 2005. Mr. Sanders led the Latham & Watkins’ International Practice Group for many years. In addition, he was founding chair of the International Law Section of the California State Bar Association and founding president of the Los Angeles Center for International Commercial Arbitration. He is currently a member arbitrator of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy. In April 2001, he was awarded the Learned Hand Award for outstanding leadership in the legal profession.

Mr. Sanders was Chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. As Chairman, he led the effort to bid for the 2016 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In September 2007 he received the Olympic Spirit Award from the United States Olympic Committee and the William May Garland Award from the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. As a lawyer with the firm and as a supporter of amateur sports in Southern California, he represented the Los Angeles Sports Council, the America’s Cup Organizing Committee, the LA84 Foundation, the San Diego (ARCO) Olympic Training Center, the Special Olympics, and the Los Angeles Olympics Sports Festival. He headed the legal team for the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee in its bribery scandal. He is now a Director of the Los Angeles Sports Council and of the Los Angeles Sports Council Foundation.

He has been named “Man of the Year” for 2012 by the Special Olympics of Southern California and is on the Board of Directors for the Organizing Committee for the Special Olympics World Games of 2015.

Mr. Sanders’ community service career spans many subjects. In early 1992, he served as executive editor and general counsel to the California Council on Competitiveness. From 1979 to 1984, he served as primary outside counsel to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. After the riots in Los Angeles in 1992, he was Co-Chair of Rebuild LA, the public-private organization established to deal with the problems of LA’s inner city. He served in that capacity until returning to Latham & Watkins on January 1, 1994. While Co-Chair of RLA, he was Chairman of the Board of the RLA Community Lending Corporation. He served as a Board member and as “Honorary Chair” of that inner city loan fund corporation from 1993 to 2000. The Coro Foundation presented him its “Crystal Eagle” Public Affairs Award for community service in 2007. Shane’s Inspiration, the organization for children with disabilities, presented him its Visionary Leadership Award in 2009. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce awarded Mr. Sanders its Civic Medal of Honor in 2011.

With respect to music and the arts, he received the 1999 Medal of Honor for contributions to the arts from the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California. He has been Chairman of the Board and President of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chairman of the Los Angeles Public Library Foundation. He is presently on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Opera and led its city-wide Ring Festival LA in spring 2010. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine. He served on the Boards of Directors of the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center (formerly “The Music Center”), the Music Center Foundation and The Walt Disney Concert Hall Corporation, the Joffrey Ballet, the Aman Dance Company, the Geffen Playhouse, the Otis Art Institute and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, among others.

2018: Mitsuru Claire Chino


At the 2018 California Lawyers Association Annual Meeting, the International Law Section awarded Mitsuru Claire Chino of Itochu Corporation as the winner of the 2018 Warren Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award.

To mention just a few of her accomplishments, Ms. Chino is the President & CEO of ITOCHU International Inc. and Managing Executive Officer of Itochu Corporation, a Fortune Global 500 company, headquartered in Japan, with over 40,000 employees worldwide.  In 2013, she became the first female executive officer of any major trading company in Japan. She has also been active in promoting women’s interests in corporate Japan and was instrumental in initiating a diversity program within Itochu. Prior to joining Itochu, she was a partner of an international law firm. Claire has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout her career, including from the World Economic Forum (Young Global Leader), Yale University (Yale World Fellow), Asia Society (Asia 21) and the U.S. Japan Leadership Program.  She has also been recognized in the in-house community as a “Top 25 In-House Counsel in Asia” (Asia Legal Business), “Asia Pacific’s Innovative Lawyer” (Financial Times) and “FT Global General Counsel 30 (Financial Times).

Clare is a graduate of Smith College (B.A. cum laude) and Cornell Law School (J.D.), where she serves on the advisory board, and has taught as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence.

2017: Michael R. Tyler


At the 2017 International Law Section Convention, the International Law Section awarded Michael R. Tyler of Jacobs Engineering Group as the winner of the 2017 Warren Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award.

Michael R. Tyler is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Jacobs Engineering Group (NYSE: JEC). Jacobs is one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of technical, professional and construction services, including all aspects of architecture, engineering and construction, operations and maintenance, as well as scientific and specialty consulting. Jacobs’ 75,000 employees in 230+ locations around the world serve a broad range of companies and organizations, including industrial, commercial, and government clients across multiple markets and geographies. At Jacobs, Mr. Tyler leads a global team of more than 100 lawyers, as well as manages the company’s global risk management organization.

Before joining Jacobs in 2013, Mr. Tyler served as the Chief Legal Officer of two other Fortune 500 public companies — Sanmina, Inc. in Silicon Valley, and Gateway, Inc. in both San Diego and in London. At both companies, he also served as Chief Administrative Officer and supervised, in addition to the Legal Department, Human Resources, Facilities, Corporate Procurement, Security and Travel. Prior to Sanmina & Gateway, Mr. Tyler was international counsel to Northrop Grumman Corporation, and before that worked at a major international law firm. He also served as a law clerk to Judge Arthur Alarcon on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Tyler is a past chair of the State Bar’s International Law Section.

2016: Constance De La Vega

De La Vega

At the State Bar of California 89th Annual Meeting, the International Law Section awarded Professor Constance de la Vega of the University of San Francisco School of Law as the winner of the 2016 Warren Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award.

In addition to her position as the Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Professor de la Vega is the Academic Director of the International Programs and the Director of the Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

2015: John V. Roos


The State Bar of California International Law Section named Honorable John V. Roos, the 28th United States Ambassador to Japan, as the recipient of the 2015 Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award.

Ambassador Roos is the Founding Partner at Geodesic Capital. He is a Senior Advisor at Centerview Partners, a preeminent mergers & acquisitions advisory firm and a member of the Board of Directors at and the Sony Corporation. In addition to the Global Advisory Board of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Ambassador Roos chairs the Toyota Research Institute Advisory Board and serves on the Board of Directors of The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Previously, Ambassador Roos served as Chief Executive Officer and Senior Partner at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, & Rosati, the leading law firm in the United States in the representation of technology, life sciences, and emerging growth companies.

From 2009-2013 Ambassador Roos served as the United States Ambassador to Japan. On August 6, 2010 he became the first sitting U.S. Ambassador ever to attend the commemoration ceremony of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. Ambassador Roos’ service in Tokyo coincided with the devastating 9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis on March 11, 2011. Following this tragedy, Ambassador Roos led the American effort on the ground in support of Japan’s response to the multi-dimensional and unprecedented disaster. After the crisis, Ambassador Roos also led the creation of the TOMODACHI initiative, a public-private partnership that has raised more than fifty million dollars and established more than 40 exchange programs.

2014: Robert E. Lutz


The State Bar of California International Law Section named Robert E. Lutz, Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School as the recipient of the 2014 Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award.

One of legal education’s foremost authorities on international public and private law studies, Professor Lutz has held the top posts in the most influential organizations in the international law community, including Chair of the International Law Sections of the American Bar Association, Association of American Law Schools and Los Angeles County Bar Association, and was co-founder of the State Bar of California International Law Section and Chair of the ABA Task Force on International Trade in Legal Services.  He has created and edited major legal publications–The International Lawyer, the Ecology Quarterly, the “Year in Review of International Law“, and The California International Practitioner.   His many pioneering contributions in each of these positions and others, and his efforts on behalf of the American legal profession to liberalize transnational practice internationally are significant accomplishments that have greatly benefitted the international profession.

2013: James A. Gash


The International Law Section honored Professor James A. Gash as the winner of the 2013 Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award during the State Bar’s Annual meeting in October 2013. This award is being given to Professor Gash because of his unique efforts over the past several years to help bring the rule of law to Uganda.

James A. Gash, is a Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law. Professor Gash teaches Torts, Evidence, and Legal Ethics. Professor Gash also serves as the Director of the Global Justice Program in Pepperdine’s Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion, and Ethics. From 2005 until 2012, he also served as Associate Dean at Pepperdine Law.

2012: Albert S. Golbert


The State Bar of California International Law Section named Albert S. Golbert as the recipient of the 2012 Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award.

After practicing for ten years throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, Albert returned to California in 1970. In addition to an extensive tax and business law practice, he was an Adjunct Law Professor at Southwestern University School of Law and at Whittier Law School, and a Lecturer at the law schools of the USC, Loyola, UC Davis and UCLA. He has authored more than 50 articles and five books and has served on many different Committees of the Bar. Albert has been the recipient of a number of awards and professional recognition, including: the Dana Latham Award for lifetime achievement and commitment to the tax bar, (highest honor bestowed by the Taxation Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association, 2000); Best Lawyers in America 2006-20 (Taxation and/or International Trade and Finance Law) and Best Lawyers’ 2014-15 (Los Angeles International Trade and Finance Law Lawyer of the Year); and Southern California Super Lawyers, 2006-2019 (Taxation-International Trade and Finance Law).

2011: Warren M. Christopher


The International Law Section has inaugurated the International Lawyer of the Year Award to honor California legal practitioners who render extraordinary service to our profession in the field of international law.

The first annual International Lawyer of the Year Award was presented posthumously to Warren M. Christopher. The award was presented at the International Law Section’s Annual Cocktail Reception and Dinner in September 2011. The award was accepted by Mr. Christopher’s daughter, Lynn Collins.

Warren Christopher had a long and distinguished career both as a lawyer and statesman. Among his many accomplishments as the 63rd Secretary of State, Mr. Christopher brokered the Bosnian Peace Agreement during President Bill Clinton’s first term in office. For many years, Mr. Christopher was a Senior Partner at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in the firm’s Century City office. Aided by videoclips and anecdotes, we remembered Mr. Christopher’s life-long commitment to the furtherance of international law and democracy around the world.

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