2018 Lawyer of the Year
David Dai-Wung Fu
The Solo & Small Firm Section of the California Lawyers Association 2018 Lawyer of the Year is David Fu.
David is deserving of this recognition as his achievements and philosophy towards the practice of law exemplifies the ideals that the Award recognizes.
David’s law firm, David Fu and Associates, is a full-service law firm focusing on litigation and transactional matters for clients who are typically small or medium-sized business owners and real estate investors. David primarily serves an immigrant community which commonly lacks experience and sophistication in dealing with legal matters, and in dealing with governmental entities, legal issues and the court system. David’s philosophy is to make the client’s experience positive, along with conducting himself with honor, integrity and honesty.
David has been active in State Bar activities since 2007, starting with the Real Property Law Section. He began as a co-chair to the Sales and Brokerage Subsection. After that, he was part of the Executive Committee Subsection on Relations. He continued on becoming a committee member, then an officer, then he was the vice chair in 2011, and finally the co-chair from 2012 to 2013. Since then, he has been an advisor to the Committee. Starting in 2015, David was active in continuing education of the Bar, the Real Property Advisory Committee. Finally, and if that wasn’t enough, starting in 2014, David has served on the Commission for Judicial Nominees Evaluation in which, typical of his history, he started as a member, then became the vice chair and he sits as the chair for the 2017-2018 calendar year.
David is also active in local Bar activities and professional associations. He is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar, Real Property Executive Committee. He is a member of the Culver Marina Bar Association where he served on the Board of Directors from 2001 to 2004 and was president in 2004. He is active in the Chinese American Real Estate Professionals Association and serves as General Counsel. He is active in the National Association of Realtors as an instructor. He is a member of the San Gabriel Valley Bar Association and, finally, a member of the American Bar Association, Real Property Diversity Outreach Program.
A colleague has said of David that he “genuinely believes in the majesty, power and responsibility of the law, of lawyers and of society.” He believes he has a duty to serve and has invested close to 1,000 hours in 2017 alone, working on programs benefiting the Bar, its members and the community.
His website embraces the credo, “Do no harm.” His law philosophy is to give value for value in everything he does. Even in his litigation practice, he seeks the most cost effective, mutually acceptable resolution of a dispute. A principled lawyer, he understands the cost of litigation, the disruption litigation can have, and always works to educate his client and the opposing parties so a timely and mutually agreeable resolution serves those involved in a dispute.
Finally, David has been engaged in speaking for years, and the list is simply too long for this article. However, the highlight must be his testimony before the Commission on Judicial Appointments regarding the confirmation hearing of the Honorable Justice Mary H. Greenwood and Justice Thomas M. Goethals, which took place in January 2018.
David obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1986 from University of California, Berkeley. He then obtained his Juris Doctor in 1996 from University of West Los Angeles. Finally, he received a Master of Laws Degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University in 2000.
2017 Lawyer of the Year
L. Tracee Lorens
The State Bar Solo and Small Firm Section is pleased to announce that San Diego County attorney L. Tracee Lorens is the honored recipient of the 2017 Attorney of the Year Award. The Solo and Small Firm Section presents its Attorney of the Year Award to honor a solo or small firm attorney, who has shown exemplary leadership and dedication to the legal profession, contributed to the betterment of the practice of law, and has devoted significant service to the public and legal community. Mrs. Lorens fits the profile exceptionally. The award will be presented at the Solo and Small Firm Reception at the Section’s Convention held on Friday, August 18, 2017, in San Diego at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marin.
Tracee Lorens is a very accomplished attorney (recently retired) who now divides her work time between a Mediation practice in California and Colorado, and her luxury vacation rental business. She was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado and many admiringly nick named her “The Colorado Mountain Woman”, due to her tenacious litigation style and her never ending drive to win for her clients, every single time.
Ms. Lorens is the Founding Partner of Lorens & Associates, APLC, and has been recognized for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in employment and labor law, evidenced by being named one of California’s Lawyers of the Year in 2013 and 2014. She spent her 24-year career fighting to uphold the rights of low-wage workers and consumers, and has led a multitude of class action lawsuits in California. She was recently inducted into Worldwide Registry and maintains affiliation with the Consumer Attorneys of California, the California Employment Lawyers Association, the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, the San Diego County Bar Association, and The State Bar of California. She won the “CLAY” Award in 2013 for her ten (10) year battle in the BrinkerWage and Hour Class Action case.
Looking back, Ms. Lorens attributes her success to “good old fashioned” hard work and dedication to always producing the best product humanly possible. She started her own firm so she could balance a family and career. She attributes much of her success to her husband, Wayne A. Hughes, who practiced law with her for 20 years, and the love and unending support of her daughter Alexandra Rose Lorens, who graduated from Law School in May and takes the July California Bar exam. When asked about her mother’s career, Alexandra had this to say.
Looking back on my childhood I can’t remember many family vacations that weren’t spent with a full load of white file boxes, fax machines, and printers. I am also pretty sure that most of my friends growing up were the children of my mom’s clients or my mom’s other lawyer friend’s children. Some might find that kind of childhood experience to be odd. But those of us who grew up in the home of a lawyer know that it comes with the territory because you are always fighting for the little guy against big, well-funded, law firms.
My mother eats, breathes, and lives every case she ever had. She’s like the Energizer Bunny that her opponent never sees coming and really never has a chance of keeping up with—thus the vacations and holidays with files.
She taught me you do not have to be the smartest person in the room, but you better be the hardest working if you plan on getting anywhere. As a little girl I remember telling my friends, ‘My Mom is a lawyer and I can’t wait to be like her some day’. Twenty-six plus years later, as I take the Bar exam, that is still what I say to all my friends. I only hope that one day I can instill in my children the same passion for the law and the ability to make people’s lives better, as my mother has.
Tracee was President of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego in 2003, following ten (10) years serving on their Board of Directors. She served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the same institution. She has been involved in numerous charities, is known as a great cook, mother, and wife, and has sponsored no less than seven (7) children from low-income families (or orphans) in their quest to obtain a university education.
Memorable cases Ms. Lorens has litigated include Albrecht v. Rite Aid, Hohnbaum v. Brinker, and Laguna v. Coverall, among many others, both multi-party and individual. The most recognized case being Hohnbaum v. Brinker. That 100,000+-member class case was settled for $57.5 million in 2014. That is when Tracee retired and began her Mediation practice. She also develops and rents luxury cabins on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and on the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur.
In 1999, Ms. Lorens began focusing her practice on consumer class actions. She obtained in excess of $100,000,000 in settlements and/or verdicts over her 25-year career. One of her more memorable cases, Albrecht v. Rite Aid, involved violations of California’s wage and hour laws. It settled for $25,000,000 and Lorens received an Outstanding Advocacy Award honoring her efforts. She prides herself on representing those who could not otherwise afford representation and ensuring access to the legal system for low-wage workers and consumers.
When speaking to Wayne Hughes, her partner in law and in life, he described Tracee’s career by saying, “ I have decades of watching Tracees’ labor as an attorney. She does not give up. She sets ambitious and worthwhile goals. Without procrastinating she then sets out to accomplish those goals. When set backs occur, Tracee pauses, studies, and then attacks from a different route.
I remember when her Class Certification Order was overturned by the Court of Appeals in Brinker and all her colleagues told her it was over. But she said No. This Order is a death knell to all workers in California and I’m taking it all the way to the Supreme Court, if I have to. She did. She won. And then she settled that case for $57.5 Million.
Her caseload was always complex, beyond what is normal for a Class Action firm, let alone a small firm. She produced a caliber of work and results that even large firms would envy. She is hard driving yet always extremely civil and professional, to a degree not always deserved by her opponents. She has always run her businesses with a woman’s touch. She has an empathy about her that her clients and employees never missed; yet she was a pit bull underneath. I guess that’s why she was called a Colorado Mountain Woman.”
Ms. Lorens was a 2005 Nominee and Semi-Finalist for the San Diego Daily Transcript’sTop 25 Lawyers of the Year. Senator Joe Dunn presented her with a Senate Resolution for her “involvement in the community, outstanding record of personal and civic leadership, spirit, integrity, and passion for excellence” in 2004. She has received several Outstanding Lawyer Awards from CASD, a CLAY Award in 2013, and Super LawyerAwards on numerous occasions.
By the way, she loves to fish in Mexico during her “spare” time. Deep Sea fishing and travel are her favorite pass times.
Tracee has recently retired from the practice of law and spent a year in training and credentialing to become a mediator. To date, she has a 100% settlement rate.
Tracee’s years of litigation and trial work, combined with hundreds of settlement conferences and meditations, has given her the experience and knowledge to assist in resolving any type of dispute, litigated or otherwise. She has a reputation for being hard working, dogged in her determination, bright, highly experienced and knowledgeable, courteous yet adept at handling contentious personalities, and a “straight talker;” thus making the Mediation process efficient and very cost effective.
Tracee Lorens has found mediation to be a truly satisfying means of resolving disputes in a more cost-effective and satisfying way for the participants. Instead of spending thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars litigating, the parties, with her assistance, can construct a resolution that works for them, instead of having a judgment imposed on them via the court system. In some sense, Ms. Lorens has come full circle, from esteemed litigator to compassionate mediator. He experience definitely allows her to do both well.
All of us should celebrate a life and law practice lived well. The Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California is proud to present L. Tracee Lorens with its 2017 Attorney of the Year Award.
2016 Lawyer of the Year
The State Bar Solo and Small Firm Section is pleased to announce that Orange County (Irvine, CA) attorney Neil Pedersen as the honored recipient of the 2016 Attorney of the Year Award. The award was presented at the Myer J. Sankary Reception at the Solo and Small Firm Summit held on June 17, 2016 at 5 p.m. at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa.
Neil is deserving of this recognition as his achievements and philosophy towards the practice of law exemplifies the ideals that the Award is meant to recognize.
Neil’s dedication to the practice of law, from mentoring law students and new attorneys, to his involvement with the Orange County Bar Association and community groups, and overall contribution to the legal profession is something that all attorneys should strive to accomplish. Neil’s law partner Teresa McQueen is his biggest champion, which says a lot after all of the hours they spend working on cases in the law firm. However, Neil’s influence extends beyond his own law firm, his colleagues have weighed in to commend him:
“Through tough times and wonderful times, I have seen a [Neil] persevere and never waiver from doing the right thing.”
“Mr. Pederson sets a perfect example of what an attorney should be . . .”
“[Neil advised] to always take the high road and to remember that ‘your word is your bond.’”
“[Neil] has always stressed ethics above all else, teaching that the best way to grow a legal practice is to do great work and thereby create a legacy of satisfied clients.”
“[Neil] sets an example that debunks [all] of the cliché jokes and bad reputation that lawyers have gotten over the years in the eyes of the general public.”
Neil’s passion for the law and mentoring new attorneys can be described as absolute. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at his Alma Mater, Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, CA. His course subjects include Law Practice Management, technology, and employment law. He actively participates with the law school’s extern program to bring students into his firm. In addition, he works as a mediator through a Christian Faith-based organization that seeks to resolve conflicts using Judeo-Christian values and principles.
Neil firmly believes and works to help State Bar Members by offering his time and resources, from which he hopes to improve the reputation of all lawyers and legal services to their clients. By doing so, he inspires and encourages attorneys to do good work and make others more rounded in the process. He loves to spend time with attorneys, and with a smile on his face, has an offer for young attorneys: “for a soda and a sandwich you get an hour of my time.” For Neil, “his door is always open.”
Neil graduated law school and began practicing law in 1988. He has been in a small firm environment since 1990, when he started Ford & Pedersen after leaving Walker, Kendrick & Jackson. In 2012, he started Pedersen McQueen, APLC, where he is Principal Attorney. He has practiced law in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas his entire career.
Neil Pedersen is a fierce competitor, savvy negotiator, and insightful strategist. He has a twenty-plus year track record of procuring significant judgments and settlements in the areas of insurance coverage and bad faith, business litigation, real property litigation, and employment discrimination and termination. He enjoys and excels in trial, and pushes cases aggressively in that direction. In addition, general counsel services and business transactions are not foreign to him. In the late 90’s Neil was in-house counsel for a start-up technology firm where he built the legal and human resources infrastructure from the ground up. Neil uses this rich diversity of both litigation and transactional experience to provide superior leadership and guidance as Principal of Pedersen McQueen.
Neil cherishes loves the idea of being in a smaller firm where still obtains quality experience. In his first year of practice, he had the privilege of being second chair on a 10-week jury trial and won a huge verdict in an insurance bad faith case, which went all the way to the California Supreme Court.
Neil is an award-winning attorney and has been published in legal journals throughout his career. He was elected to his law school alma mater’s Hall of Fame in May 2010, where he was the co-Valedictorian and Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. He is consistently rated as a top attorney by multiple publications. In 2014, he was honored as a Wall of Justice Honoree by the California Employment Lawyers Association.
He holds his Bachelor of Science and his Juris Doctor degrees from Western State University College of Law. He earned both degrees in 1998.
Neil met his wife on the first day of law school. They were study partners and were married during their second year of law school. Neil and his lovely wife are now celebrating 30 years together.
All of us should celebrate a life and law practice lived well. The Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California is proud to present Neil Pedersen with its 2016 Attorney of the Year Award.
2015 Lawyer of the Year
The State Bar Solo and Small Firm Section was delighted to announce that Sacramento attorney Ashley West was the recipient of its 2015 Attorney of the Year Award. The award was presented at the Myer J. Sankary Reception at the Solo and Small Firm Summit held on June 19, 2015 in Newport Beach, CA. Ashley is a founding partner of the boutique transactional firm Carter West, focusing on high dollar corporate and real estate matters with her law partner, Ian Carter.
This year’s nominees were a group whose histories of involvement and achievement exemplified the ideals of leadership of the profession and service to the community that the Award is meant to recognize. Ashley stood out for the depth of her dedication to the community and professional work to which she has been devoted since her admission to practice in California in 2004, and the prodigious amount of that work.
Ashley’s dedication to the profession and public service shines brightest through her work with WEAVE, Inc., Sacramento’s primary provider of services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Ashley joined WEAVE’s Board of Directors in 2005, and since then has served on or chaired many of its committees, and notably served for three years as its Board Chair and President (2009-2011).
Says her law partner, Ian Carter, “I’d like to be the first to congratulate my partner, Ashley West, on being named 2015 Attorney of the Year by the California State Bar Solo & Small Firm Section. While it is an amazing honor, I doubt it will come as much of a surprise to those who know and work with Ashley. This world needs more attorneys like Ashley. Her dedication, desire and drive to serve her clients and her community are unparalleled. Whether it’s serving to help victims of domestic violence with WEAVE or leading a client through a complex acquisition, Ashley’s confident, energetic, knowledgeable and fun-loving approach to life shines through. Great job Ashley.”
Since 2006, Ashley has raised over $1,150,000 for WEAVE, and has provided more than $600,000 in pro bono services to it, including legal services to (i) secure over $2 million in contracts from the state Emergency Housing and Assistance Program; (ii) build a new Safehouse in 2008 and construct transitional housing cottages in 2012; (iii) identify, negotiate, document and acquire a new apartment complex WEAVE dedicated to emergency housing; (iv) negotiate leases for WEAVE’s thrift stores and its service center in south Sacramento; (v) negotiate the lease of WEAVE’s subtenant in its headquarters; (vi) advise on corporate matters; and (vii) call in favors from litigators to handle litigation pro bono.
With much praise, Beth Hassett, WEAVE’s Executive Director, says that, “Ashley’s efforts have translated into tens of thousands of nights of safe shelter; more than 1,000 victims of domestic violence having access to legal assistance and representation; and a network of colleagues and friends who thought they agreed to a meeting only to find themselves passionate WEAVE supporters. WEAVE is the agency it is today because there are attorneys like Ashley West who know the power of strengthening their communities. I am humbled by her commitment and proud to celebrate this well-deserved recognition with her.” Adds Beth, “Ashley improves the public’s confidence in lawyers on both ends of the economic spectrum.”
The Attorney of the Year Award is not the first recognition Ashley has received for her exceptional work. A partial list of her past awards and honors includes Best of the Bar(Sacramento Business Journal, 2013, 2014); One of 40 Women Leaders in Law in the State of California (The Recorder, September 13, 2012); Outstanding Community Service Award (The Unity Bar and Women Lawyers’ of Sacramento, October 25, 2012); Top 40 Under 40 (Sacramento Business Journal, April 27, 2010); Sacramento’s Board Member of the Year (Volunteer Center of Sacramento, October 30, 2009); and California’s Outstanding Board Member of the Year (California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, May 28, 2008).
Ashley has also volunteered her time as a Board Member of the Barristers’ Club of Sacramento, an affiliate of the Sacramento County Bar Association dedicated to providing educational and networking opportunities to new and young lawyers in Sacramento County, the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the YMCA Model Youth and Government Program, and the California Bar Foundation of Legal Heritage Institute..
If this were not enough, Ashley still finds time to enjoy hiking, running, swimming, and, of course, bragging about her toddler.
More succinctly, “Ashley is a bad ass. That sums it up,” says Beth.
Ashley is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Law and received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a Minor in Philosophy from the University of Missouri. Prior to her California Bar admission, Ashley practiced law in Missouri and Florida.
The Solo and Small Firm Section was proud to present Ms. West with its 2015 Attorney of the Year Award.
2014 Lawyer of the Year
The State Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Section chose Orange County’s Solange Ritchie to receive the 2014 Myer J. Sankary Attorney of the Year Award. In addition to her practice with her husband, Steven R. Young, handling civil litigation with an emphasis on “last minute trials,” Ms. Ritchie has been an active member of the Orange County Bar Association (“OCBA”), California Women Lawyers (“CWL”), Orange County Women Lawyers (“OCWL”), Orange County Asian American Bar Association (“OCAABA”), and the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (“OCTLA”). This year’s nominees were a group whose histories of involvement and achievement exemplified the ideals of leadership of the profession and service to the community that the Award is meant to recognize. Ms. Ritchie stood out for the depth of her dedication to the community and professional work to which she has been devoted since her admission to practice in 1998, and the prodigious amount of that work.
A native of Jamaica, Ms. Ritchie witnessed a breakdown of social order, increases in criminal activity, and deprivations of justice with the election of a Socialist president. Her mother created a charitable foundation to help young people with special needs, including Ms. Ritchie’s brother who has Down syndrome. Ms. Ritchie immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 11, and ever since she has been dedicated to the cause of justice. “After what I experienced, I have always wanted to help the people who needed to be heard. I get a lot of satisfaction from beating the big boys.”
Ms. Ritchie has served on OCWLA’s Board of Directors since 2002, and as its President in 2007. Teresa McQueen, an OCWLA member and former member of the Solo and Small Firm Section Executive Committee, says, “I just love Solange. She is a very hard worker, and she does amazing things. Even after she’s finished the officer track, she stays involved.” Neda Mansoorian, CWL President, describes her personal admiration and fondness for Ms. Ritchie “as a kind, thoughtful, and hardworking colleague.” She praises Ms. Ritchie’s work “promoting diversity, equality, and access to justice.”
Ms. Ritchie has served since 2003 on the Board of Directors of OCAABA, and as its President in 2008. She has been a member of the OCBA Board of Directors since 2005, co-chaired OCBA’s Committee on Diversity and Equal Justice from 2007 through 2010, and served as Chair of its Resolutions Committee in 2010. Ms. Ritchie has served on the Board of Directors of the OCBA Charitable Fund since 2008, and on the OCTLA Board of Directors over that same time. She has also served since 2008 on the Board of El Viento Foundation, providing educational and leadership opportunities for underprivileged children living in the Orange County community of Huntington Beach.
The Myer J. Sankary Award is not the first recognition Ms. Ritchie has received for her exceptional work. In 2008, the National Organization of Women Business Owners selected her as a Remarkable Woman of the Year. In 2009, OCWLA honored her as Attorney of the Year. And last year, her alma mater, Western State University College of Law, which she attended while working as a paralegal and where she was, in 1993, Editor in Chief of the Law Review, inducted Ms. Ritchie into its Alumni Hall of Fame. The Solo and Small Firm Section is proud to give its Myer J. Sankary Attorney of the Year Award for 2014 to Solange Ritchie.
The award was presented on Friday evening, September 12, 2014, at the Section’s reception at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, the site of the State Bar Annual Meeting.
2013 Lawyer of the Year
The State Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Section chose Alameda County’s Sally Elkington to receive the 2013 Myer J. Sankary Attorney of the Year Award. The Section presents the Award each year to someone who has shown dedication to public service, given her time and energies to promote access to justice, and demonstrated leadership to the legal community. Ms. Elkington exemplifies these ideals.
“I get motivation from working with people who have no hope and trying, with my work, to give them some hope,” Sally says. “If it’s not getting done or someone is not being served, then I want to do something to help.”
Sally maintains a very active solo practice representing debtors in bankruptcy, and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Volunteer Legal Services Corporation (VLSC) of the Alameda County Bar Association, where, in addition to representing the underserved pro bono, she mentors and assists other volunteers. Sally also provides pro bono representation to renters in complex Landlord-Tenant matters involving habitability issues.
Ann Wassam, the Alameda County Bar Association’s Executive Director, says, “Sally epitomizes the type of attorney this Award was meant to showcase – leading, mentoring and helping others in the legal community – yet doing so without the support of a larger law firm.”
In 2012, Sally served as president of the Alameda County Bar Association, and played a vital role in developing and running VLSC’s month long Bankruptcy Form Completion Clinic, in which volunteer attorneys help pro per litigants file for bankruptcy. During her term as County Bar President, Sally also helped establish a long range strategic planning process for the organization. This year, Sally was appointed to the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Committee, one of the most time-intensive volunteer positions in the State Bar.
United States Bankruptcy Judge William J. Lafferty, III, strongly supports Sally’s selection as the Attorney of the Year “not based solely on her zeal and energy in doing good works, as impressive as those qualifies are. Of equal value,” according to Judge Lafferty, “Sally is just a superb lawyer, who represents her clients with great skill and ardor, and who has earned the well-deserved confidence and trust of myself and my colleagues on the bankruptcy bench in Oakland for her consistently excellent work in our courts.”
Sally traces her devotion to public service from her mother. “My mom was a single parent, who was a ‘home room mom’ and volunteered countless hours. I saw firsthand the difference she made in people’s lives, and I try to follow in her footsteps.”
The law is Sally’s third career. Her undergraduate degree is in physical education, but instead of teaching she entered the business world. Later, Sally taught in junior college, and obtained her Masters Degree. She then decided to pursue a career in law and attended the New College of Law in San Francisco. Throughout her life and careers, however, Sally says one thing has remained constant: “I have always strived to make a difference.”
The Solo and Small Firm Section recognized Sally Elkington’s extraordinary career and accomplishments, when we presented her with the Myer J. Sankery Award at a special cocktail reception during the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Jose on Friday evening, October 13, 2013.
2012 Lawyer of the Year
The Myer J. Sankary Award is presented annually by the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar to an individual who has demonstrated years of faithful service and leadership to the community or to his fellow attorneys and who has contributed to the development of greater justice in a field of law. Kevin Adamson, the 2012 recipient of the Myer J. Sankary Award, exemplifies these criteria.
Kevin is a solo practitioner whose practice emphasizes representing juveniles charged with criminal offenses ranging from misdemeanors to complex gang-related offenses and homicides.
For over 15 years, Kevin has served as a volunteer on the Sacramento County Bar Association’s Indigent Defense Panel Committee – an organization consisting of over 140 private criminal defense attorneys who provide conflict representation to adults and juveniles charged with criminal conduct who are unable to afford retained counsel. For the past seven years Kevin has chaired this panel. In this capacity, Kevin has devoted countless hours, on a volunteer basis, to develop and implement standards and policies to ensure that all clients represented by members of the panel receive high-quality and cost-effective representation. Indeed, the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court for Sacramento County has praised Kevin for establishing a meaningful peer-review process, including extensive qualifications review for new lawyers wishing to serve on the panel.
Kevin also serves on the Sacramento County Bar Association’s Indigent Defense Appeals Committee, which reviews appeals of decisions made by the County regarding panel membership, discipline of panel members and compensation to panel members.
Appointed by the Director of Sacramento County Conflict Criminal Defenders in 2006, Kevin has served as this organization’s Lead Juvenile Attorney. In this capacity, Kevin acts as the Director’s representative for all Juvenile Court matters and committees that deal with the substantive, administrative and policy issues at the Juvenile Court.
But Kevin’s service to the legal community and the broader community extends beyond his field of practice. For example, he has coached high school Mock Trial and Moot Court teams and has also served as a judge in these competitions. Kevin’s excellence, dedication, leadership and community involvement have already been recognized in his home county, where he was the 2006 recipient of the Sacramento County Bar Association’s President’s Award for his dedication and service to the criminal justice profession and the 2007 recipient of their Distinguished Service Award for his longstanding leadership in and service to the Sacramento County Bar Association.
It is with great pride that the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar follows Sacramento County in recognizing Kevin’s accomplishments, leadership and service.
The Solo and Small Firm Section presented the Myer J. Samkery Award to Mr. Adamson at a special cocktail reception during the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey on Friday evening October 12, 2012.
“[Kevin Adamson’s] contributions and dedication to both his clients and the greater legal community are unsurpassed… [he is both] tireless and inspiring…”
— Stacy Boulware Eurie, Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court, Sacramento Superior Court.
” [Kevin] is recognized by judges, public and private defenders, and others in the criminal justice community as an ethical, professional, and dedicated leader, and an exceptional attorney. . . Selecting Kevin Adamson to join the distinguished previous recipients of the Myer J. Sankary Lawyer of the Year Award, will continue the tradition of excellence that this award stands for…”
— June D. Coleman, Sacramento County Bar Association President.“[Kevin] epitomizes what a lawyer should be. … He is a spirited advocate for his clients and their best interests, while always maintaining the highest ethical standards, professional decorum, and polite respect for the court, staff, and his adversary.”
— Frank C. Meyer, Supervising Deputy District Attorney, Sacramento County Office of the District Attorney
2011 Lawyer of the Year
Douglas W. Otto
Douglas W. Otto is a civil and criminal trial lawyer in private practice in Long Beach, who has tried over 100 jury trials to verdict. He has served as President of the Long Beach Bar Association and as a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Board of Trustees. In 1996-97, he co-chaired the American Bar Association’s Committee on Victims Rights and regularly provides pro bono representation to indigent defendants. He recently served a three-year term as a member of the California State Bar’s Access to Justice Commission. He received the Long Beach Bar Association Lawyer of the Year Award in 2005.
2010 Lawyer of the Year
Russell S. Roeca
The Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California selected Russell S. Roeca for the 2010 Myer Sankary Lawyer of the Year Award. Presented annually to a sole practitioner or small firm lawyer who has demonstrated years of faithful service and leadership to the community or fellow attorneys, the Award recognizes those who have exercised notable leadership or made a contribution to the development of greater justice in a field of law. Mr. Roeca has earned the Award with a career of service, leadership and devotion to social justice. The Solo and Small Firm Section presented the Award to Mr. Roeca at a special reception Friday evening, September 24, 2010 during the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey.
Mr. Roeca is the Past President of the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF), having served as President in 2009. For more than 25 years, he has served his profession and the community, believing that “as lawyers, we’re obligated to do more than just make money.” Mr. Roeca also served on the State Bar’s Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2004, representing District 4. He continues to serve on the State Bar’s Council on Access & Fairness and chairs that Council’s Judiciary Committee and is an active member of BASF’s Conference of Delegates Committee. He is serving his third term as a member of the State Bar’s Committee on Professional Responsibility Insurance and is a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Professional Liability.
In 2000, Mr. Roeca founded the three person law firm of Roeca Hass Hager LLP, in San Francisco, where he specializes in professional liability, real estate, health care, insurance and related commercial and business litigation. Though he had practiced in large defense firms for some 20 years before that, he says small firm practice “made me a better lawyer.”
Mr. Roeca is a staunch advocate of diversity in the legal profession. A member of the BASF Diversity Task Force for almost20 years, he served on the BASF Board of Directors from 1994 to 1998, during which time BASF, in conjunction with the San Francisco Board of Education, established the Law Academy Classroom to Career program, and each summer Mr. Roeca’s firm employs a Law Academy intern.
Mr. Roeca frequently serves as a judicial arbitrator appointed by the San Francisco Superior Court, as a panelist with BASF’s early settlement program and as a judge pro tem in the Superior Court of Alameda County.
In addition to his service to the profession, Mr. Roeca has been active in the San Francisco community. In 1996, then-Mayor Willie Brown appointed Mr. Roeca to the San Francisco Fire Commission, where he served for more than eight years, including a term as Vice President of the Commission. He has served on the board of the Bay Area Non-Partisan Alliance and on the Human Rights Campaign Board of Trustees.
“I have personally witnessed Russ Roeca’s many contributions during his career,” says James Donato, Mr. Roeca’s predecessor as BASF President, “and have seen how they have made a positive difference in the lives of students and the legal community, all while balancing a successful law practice in a small firm.”
2009 Lawyer of the Year
Patricia L. McCabe
Formerly a partner in a personal injury litigation firm, Patricia L. McCabe has been a sole practitioner for the last 13 years, specializing in representing the disabled. She practices throughout California and other jurisdictions in United States District Court and before governmental agencies, handling Social Security claims, Medicare claims, Medi-Cal claims, litigation involving disability insurance policies, Veteran’s benefits, and California State disability and unemployment benefits. She handles matters at all levels of the administrative process from application through exhaustion of the administrative appeal and filing of litigation in United States District Court.
Her choice of practice suggests Ms. McCabe’s compassion and devotion to public service. Her history of service is the proof.
A graduate of Franklin Pierce Law Center, Ms. McCabe has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology. She is a Past President of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association. She has served on the Los Angeles County Bar Association Board of Trustees and is a member of LACBA’s Social Security section executive committee. She is a Past Chair of the Executive Committee of the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California.
Now serving her 14th year as a delegate to the Conference of California Bar Associations, Ms. McCabe is also a member of the House of Delegates to the American Bar Association. She has written resolutions which have passed the Conference of Delegates and been proposed to the California Legislature.
Ms. McCabe was a member of the editorial team and a contributing author to the California Guide to Opening and Managing a Law Office, published by the State Bar in 2008. And she frequently lectures for the State Bar, the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives and other bar associations.
While some might get anxious just reading about all the things she does, Ms. McCabe views them as ways to reduce stress. “The practice of law is extremely stressful,” she says, “and nothing good comes from trying to power through stress. Volunteering in the community, providing pro bono legal services and working with other lawyers to better the profession bring positive factors to your life and balance things out.”
A firm believer in both the duties and the benefits of giving back to the community, Ms. McCabe provides pro bono legal services to low income individuals, the homeless, and veterans. She has received the American Bar Association’s 2008 Difference Makers Award for pro bono service and the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives’ 2004 Annual Pro Bono Award. She volunteers her services for Public Counsel, the Disability Legal Rights Center, the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives, Neighborhood Legal Services and HALSA, the HIV and AIDS Legal Services Alliance. She also serves on the Boards of Directors for San Fernando Valley Mental Health Clinics, Inc., the Valley Community Legal Foundation, and for Neighborhood Legal Services, which is among Los Angeles County’s larges legal aid programs.
“Patty is a very giving, caring and concerned person,” says Anne Adams, a professional colleauge and longtime friend of Ms. McCabe. “She has been extremely supportive of the charities and bar activities she’s involved in.”
Patricia McCabe was the deserving recipient of the 2009 Myer Sankary Award and was presented her award at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California in San Diego on Friday, September 11, 2009.
2008 Lawyer of the Year
Cheryl L. Hicks
Cheryl L. Hicks, is a private practice attorney in Oakland, specializing in juvenile dependency, family law, and plaintiffs personal injury law. A graduate of Boalt Hall, she is a past chair of the Civil Court Appointed Attorneys Advisory Committee.
Cheryl Hicks believes in giving back. Back to her community. Back to her fellow attorneys. “[M]any of us still find the time, a few minutes here and an hour there, to give a little something back”. This award recognizes the fact that Ms. Hicks is a giver, not a taker. That despite her devotion to her own practice, she makes the time to recognize her colleagues and to ensure that her community is represented.
Ms. Hicks has achieved balance. She recognizes that the practice of law is a stressful profession. Which is understandable as she maintains a heavy caseload in juvenile dependency in addition to providing services on the Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA) Civil Court Appointed Attorney Program (CCAAP) and acting on the oversight committee for that program.. And while that would be enough for most, Ms. Hicks is also the immediate past president of the Alameda Bar Association (she is pictured above with other past presidents), she served on the ACBA’s Board of Directors for six years and she provides leadership on the ACBA’s Judicial Mentoring Project.
“Being active in your local bar association is a wonderful way for solo practitioners to connect with other lawyers and to help develop business.” When it comes to Ms. Hicks, being “active” is an understatement. In nominating her, Ann Wassam, Executive Director of the Alameda County Bar Association, highlights some of the many examples of Ms. Hicks’ service to the legal community. These include acting as an informal mentor to countless juvenile dependency lawyers which in turn improves the quality of representation available for low-income residents, and serving on the CCAAP oversight committee to deal with issues such as fee disputes, rule revisions and contract negotiations with the local court.
In 2007, in response to State Bar President Shelly Sloan’s focus on promoting civility, Ms. Hicks set forth guidelines for ACBA members in order to deal with what she recognized as a continuing problem. “When we lose our cool in court or with opposing counsel, we cannot be effective advocates. The Court and our colleagues will not be listening to our compelling legal arguments if we are presenting them in a demeaning and angry manner.” Balance is the key. Zealous advocacy must be tempered with professional decorum.
Cheryl Hicks sets a very high standard. In her words, “We have a responsibility to the communities we live in and to society as a whole to assist with shaping the world we want to live in, and use our knowledge and education to be leaders.”
Ms. Hicks is both an excellent lawyer and an example of the best a sole practitioner has to offer to the legal community.
2007 Lawyer of the Year
Anne C. Adams
Anne C. Adams is a business and family law solo practitioner based in Canoga Park. She represents clients in the Los Angeles area courts who are sued for consumer debts. Her office provides legal services to clients including hardship payment plans and debt negotiation services statewide.
Ms. Adams served as president of the Valley Community Legal Foundation of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, which provides scholarships to students who intend to pursue careers in law enforcement, firefighting, public safety or a legal profession. The Foundation funds lawrelated projects including providing legal information to the public, court advocates to domestic violence victims and legal clinics for low-income valley residents.
“I’ve known and worked with Anne in numerous professional contexts throughout the past years,” Solo and Small Firm Section Chair Roberta Burnette says. “She is selfless in her dedication to her clients – she brings an energy and a focus that any client would be lucky to have in counsel.”
Ms. Adams is a former chair of the Executive Committee of the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California. She has always given her time selflessly to make the lives of California small firm practitioners easier.
“Anne is unfailingly innovative in her approach to the small firm practice sector in California,” Ms. Burnette, principal of Thousand Oak’s Burnette Law Firm, says. “No one pushes forward with new ideas and new programs to benefit California small firm practitioners the way Anne has demonstrated again and again.”
Several years ago, Ms. Adams negotiated and implemented a joint venture program of discounts for small firm lawyers at the Continuing Education of the Bar office. Attorneys who use the discount program save significant money and earn necessary continuing legal education credits.
“The CEB program is easy to use and the educational seminars are outstanding,” Richard Kaplan, past chair of the Section, says. “Anne is outstanding at figuring out what smaller firm lawyers need and making it happen.”
In recognizing the difficulties that face solos and small firm practitioners, Ms. Adams, who holds both Juris Doctorate and Masters in Business Administration degrees, has spearheaded efforts to make information available to attorneys in the Section. She is a frequent speaker on law office management processes.
“Anne’s presentations at the State Bar Annual Meeting are always mobbed,” Lisa Miller, Section chair-elect and editor of BIG NEWS, says. “I frequently share the dais with Anne, and the audiences always clamor for her unique handouts on law office processes and managing the bottom line.”
True to her signature cutting-edge approach to volunteer service, Anne is currently working on an exciting project that will bring educational Webinars to the legal profession at very reasonable prices. Her committee has three Webinars in the pipeline at the moment, including the three-part presentation “Business Development Boot Camp.”
“Boot Camp” will address strategic marketing techniques for smaller firms, securing free media exposure through public relations, and paid media placements through free and low-cost advertising. The Webinar includes practical handouts and worksheets to help guide any sole practitioner or small firm through a year of developing a useable business development plan.
“Anne has always exhibited the highest degree of commitment to the best interests of the Section’s constituents,” Myer J. Sankary, a full-time neutral in Los Angels and the attorney after whom the award was named, says. “Her energy and insight has made a huge difference in the ability of the Solo Section to grow.”
Mr. Sankary was the inaugural recipient of the Myer J. Sankary Lawyer of the Year award. Mr. Sankary is credited with revitalizing the Solo and Small Firm Section, growing it from less than a half-dozen members to it current ranks of almost 2,000 members. He continues to provide significant leadership to the Section through his membership on the executive committee in advisor status.
Immediate past Section Chair Patricia McCabe has worked with Ms. Adams in many capacities over many years. Ms. McCabe has held leadership posts with both the Solo Section of the State Bar and the San Fernando Valley Bar Association.
“Anne has been a constant source of support and advice to me throughout my chairwomanship of the Section,” Ms. McCabe says. “She has a tremendous body of knowledge regarding serving our legal community as well as the larger community in California.”
One cannot think of faithful service and not think of Anne C. Adams. She embodies all of the attributes that the Myer J. Sankary Lawyer of the Year award is intended to honor.