Contact: Laura Ernde 


SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 7, 2013 – A group of exceptional lawyers, legal organizations, a  law professor and a judge will all be recognized for their extraordinary work with a series of awards to be presented at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting Oct. 10 through 12 in San Jose.

The Loren Miller Legal Services Award will be presented to UCLA Law Professor Gary Blasi for his many contributions as a lawyer and a teacher. Blasi has taught law for more than 20 years and has been a passionate advocate for the poor, litigating landmark cases and training numerous poverty lawyers. The award recognizes those who have shown a long-term commitment to legal services and have done significant work in extending legal services to the poor.

The recipients of the President’s Pro Bono Service Awards for 2013 are:

  • Meeran Mahmud, a recently admitted lawyer who logged long hours volunteering to help immigrant clients who were victims of domestic violence, torture and human trafficking with their immigration cases
  • Julie M. McCoy, pro bono attorney for victims of domestic violence and violent crimes and volunteer legal counsel to an organization that flies volunteer doctors and healthcare providers to Sinaloa, Mexico, to provide free medical and dental care to people in need
  • Laura Robles, a San Bernardino prosecutor who donated hundreds of hours of her time to help low-income clients, many of whom only spoke Spanish or had been victims of domestic violence
  • Christine Linh-Chau Hoang, who helped improve the lives of survivors of trafficking and domestic violence and  trains volunteers and pro bono attorneys to help them as well
  • Charles Trudrung Taylor, who generously volunteered his time to help low-wage workers in the Central Valley
  • Irell & Manella’s Newport Beach office, which donated more than 2,100 hours to legal services organizations in 2012, helping clients in matters including immigration and bankruptcy
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson’s team defending the ban on conversion therapy, which helped fend off a legal challenge to California’s new law preventing therapists from trying to change minors’ sexual orientation
  • The University of California, Irvine School of Law, Family Law Blitz Pro Bono Project law students helped scores of clients through a series of family law clinics
  • Ruth B. Kahn, a litigator and trial attorney who has shown enormous dedication to Holocaust survivors

The Bernard E. Witkin Medal, which recognizes a member of the legal community who has helped to shape the legal landscape, will be given to former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. From his early days as deputy city attorney to his years as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, Moreno has had a remarkable career. He has been nominated as ambassador to Belize.

This year’s Diversity Awards will be given to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte, Keker & Van Nest, the San Mateo County Bar Association and Southwestern Law School.

The Crawford Legal Institute Mentorship Bond Program (CLIMB) and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Educational Partnerships are the recipients of the Education Pipeline Award, which honors law-related educational programs that train and support students interested in the judicial system and careers in law.

The Jack Berman Award of Achievement, presented by the California Young Lawyers Association, will go to Melissa A. Tyner. Tyner is being recognized for her work on behalf of female homeless veterans as a senior staff attorney with the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles.

In addition to the awards given out at the meeting, Justice James Lambden, associate justice with the First District Court of Appeal, is scheduled to receive the Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award in December.

Justice Lambden was instrumental in getting the Equal Access Fund established in 1999, and it has brought in over $170 million since that time for legal services programs throughout the state. He has also been a supporter of language access in the courts, has assisted in the development of a set of Access Standards for the local courts, has been involved in the initiation and formation of strategic relationships to fund projects to improve access to justice as well as other access initiatives.

Sponsored by the State Bar, the Judicial Council of California, the California Commission on Access to Justice and California Judges Association, the award honors individuals who have significantly improved access for low- and moderate-income Californians.


The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By October 2013, membership reached 244,000.