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An advocate for equal access wins bar honor

By Nancy McCarthy
Staff Writer

Angela Bradstreet left her home in England in 1979, forced to leave because her family could not accept her sexual orientation. Nearly 25 years later, the Boalt Hall-educated lawyer possesses a resume with a long list of professional distinctions, awards and activities that are a testament to a career dedicated to opening doors for women and minorities in the legal profession.

Angela Bradstreet
Bradstreet

The experience with her parents "taught me the value of compassion and not to judge others and that everyone is entitled to dignity and respect," Brad-street says.

"Equality is such a basic value that goes to our very existence and the very integrity of our profession. It's incumbent on all of us to keep that in mind and not to be consumed by the billable hour and the bottom line."

In recognition of her extensive efforts to diversify and promote access to the legal profession, Bradstreet received one of two 2003 Diversity Awards from the State Bar.

The bar associations of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties received the award in the bar association category for co-sponsoring a 13-year-old summer clerkship program for minority students.

The Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program offers summer opportunities in law firms and government or corporate law offices to law students of color. Founded in 1990, it has helped law firms recruit more than 200 law students into their summer programs. Many have been hired by the firms where they clerked.

"In today's increasingly competitive legal environment and during this period of economic weakness, attracting a diversity of talented law students becomes challenging each year for recruiting firms," said James McWilliams of the Alameda County Bar Association's Race & Ethnic Fairness Committee. "This truly is a program that has served to increase diversity and with it understanding in our profession."

Bradstreet, a partner with San Francisco's Carroll Burdick & McDonough LLP, was most recently in the news for her efforts to prohibit judges from belonging to social organizations, like the Boy Scouts, that discriminate against gays and lesbians. The San Francisco, Alameda and Santa Clara superior courts adopted such a mandate, and a less stringent policy was approved by the California Supreme Court in June.

She also used her former position as president of the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) as a bully pulpit to launch an initiative to eliminate the glass ceiling for women lawyers. The campaign resulted in more than 60 law firms, businesses and public agencies signing up for a series of commitments, including increasing the number of women in partnership to at least 25 percent and assuring at least one female in senior management by 2005.

Signatories include Morrison & Foerster, Kaiser Permanente, Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco City Attorney's office.

"Angela is a woman of action, a woman who never gives up in the struggle for equality and justice," said Andrea Carlise, president of California Women Lawyers, an organization where Bradstreet served as president in 1992-93.

Added Queen's Bench President Eliza M. Rodrigues, "Angela Bradstreet has dedicated her career to helping women of all color, education and income to overcome the many barriers that face them."

Bradstreet became president in 1989 of Queen's Bench, where she spearheaded several initiatives for women. She co-chaired a new ABA Women Rainmakers Committee in the early 1990s, and in 1992 organized a large contingent of women lawyers to put pressure on the ABA to support women's reproductive rights.

Her activism continued with her election to the presidency of California Women Lawyers, where she initiated a glass ceiling survey of major California law firms and public agencies, created a "Rainmaking Guide to Corporate Counsel" and co-authored model sexual harassment policy guidelines for employers.

At BASF, in addition to the "No Glass Ceiling" committee, she launched a breast cancer peer counseling hotline and created a scholarship at Golden Gate University to assist women who suffered under the Afghan regime.

Professionally, she served a three-year stint as managing partner of Carroll Burdick, where she heads the firm's statewide employment litigation practice.

In the future, Bradstreet, 48, will continue to monitor BASF's glass ceiling program to determine how much progress signatories to the initiative have made.

Asked if her work, which often is controversial, wears her out, Bradstreet laughed. "I do believe in basic goodness and I believe when things are basically right, doing what is right is just very rewarding," she said. "Sometimes you can feel discouraged and weighed down, but the point is, there are so many wonderful people in our legal profession who believe as I do."

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