First diversity awards honor efforts to increase access
A southern California attorney and two bar associations were honored last
month for their efforts to ensure equal opportunity for all persons to the legal
The State Bar's first-ever Diver-sity Awards were presented at the annual
meeting to Eve L. Hill, executive director of the Western Law Center for Disability
Rights in Los Angeles, California Women Lawyers and the California Minority
Counsel Program. All were honored for their "outstanding efforts . . .
in promoting diversity in the legal profession."
In addition to her work with the law center, Hill, 38, chairs the bar's Committee
on Legal Professionals with Disabilities and teaches at Loyola Law School, where
she designed a course in disability rights law to encourage new lawyers to represent
"In all these capacities, her spirit of innovation has enabled these endeavors
to draw strength from one another by minimizing duplication, maximizing collaboration
and contributing substantially to our profession on a number of levels
from the new law student to the seasoned attorney and to everyone in between,"
said Olegario D. Cantos, an attorney who nominated her.
At the law center, Hill coordinated efforts to at-tract disabled students to
law school and in one event brought together more than 70 students and job seekers
with disabilities, matching them with elected officials from Los Angeles, non-profit
organizations and corporate sector leaders.
She also created the Young Profes-sionals Board, a group of law students and
newly admitted attorneys who work to increase awareness of disability issues
among young lawyers, and she created a team to train private attorneys on disability
sensitivity and issues.
Hill has hired and promoted attorneys with disabilities within her organization
and she lectures widely on eliminating bias toward legal professionals with
She also challenged the courts of Los Angeles for failing to provide physical
access for attorneys and other parties with mobility impairments and has sought
strong enforcement of a state rule of court which addresses accessibility issues
for persons with disabilities.
California Women Lawyers shared the diversity award given to bar associations
with the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP). The women's group, founded
in 1974 when only 4 percent of the state's judges were women, was honored for
its longtime efforts to include more women in the legal profession and on the
bench. Today, 20 percent of Cali-fornia's 1,500-plus judges are women.
The association continuously takes a strong leadership role on behalf of all
women in California and serves as a network for women's bar associations, women
attorneys, judges, law professors and law students statewide.
Among the activities cited by the bar's access and fairness committees, which
determined the award winners, were business development seminars for women lawyers,
its "So You Want to be a Judge" seminars demystifying the judicial
appointment and election process, and establishing a mechanism to promote consideration
of women candidates for judgeships. It also evaluates California candidates
for federal judicial appointments and provides input to the state's senators
and the president.
The minority counsel program was co-founded by Drucilla Stender Ramey and Guy
Rounsaville in 1989 in recognition of the fact that although minorities make
up close to half of California's population, they are seriously underrepresented
in the highest levels of the legal profession. The program addresses that under-representation,
particularly in the corporate counsel and law firm partner ranks.
A membership organization which draws from corporate legal departments, law
firms, bar associations and public agencies, CMCP sponsors numerous activities
designed to promote diversity in the profession.
They include an annual business development conference, a variety of roundtables,
a monthly e-newsletter publicizing accomplishments of member minority attorneys,
forging an alliance with Special Counsel, a national recruiting firm to help
member firms and corporations find a diverse applicant pool, and incorporating
on its website a "lawyer locator" function, the only online searchable
database of attorneys of color in California.
A statewide program that achieves its goals on a statewide rather than local
or regional basis, CMCP is nationally renowned for helping ethnic attorneys
get business from majority firms and providing training and mentoring programs.