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Six elected to bar board of governors

The State Bar Board of Governors will be significantly more diverse next month when six new members (including the young lawyer member) take their seats after winning election to the 23-member board. Four women, two ethnic minorities and two men in their 60s may change the tone and outlook of the board, which will be well-balanced in terms of gender, race, age, size of firm and type of practice.

The number of women attorneys on the board will more than double, and the average age of lawyer members will be 54. Five will be public lawyers, three work in large firms, six are ethnic minorities.

The new members, who will be sworn in at the bar’s Annual Meeting in San Diego Sept. 10, are James N. Penrod of San Francisco, Maria Carmen Ramirez of Oxnard, Holly J. Fujie of Los Angeles, John P. McNicholas of Los Angeles and Danni R. Murphy of Santa Ana. Each will serve a three-year term.

Also elected were new board members for the California Young Lawyers Association.

James N. Penrod

Penrod, 63, has been a trial lawyer for 36 years and currently is a partner with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in San Francisco. An engineering graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he received his law degree from George Washington University. He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He replaces Rod McLeod, another big firm lawyer in San Francisco.

Maria Ramirez

Ramirez, 56, coordinates a self-help legal access center for the Ventura Superior Court in Oxnard. Before joining the court in 1998, she spent 23 years as a legal aid attorney in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. She also served as president of the county bar association. Ramirez received her law degree from Loyola Law School. She replaces James Heiting, who will be the bar’s president next year.

Holly J. Fujie

Fujie, who defeated three other candidates running for one of two seats in Los Angeles, is a shareholder in Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger, where she is administrative chair of its litigation practice group. She serves on the board of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and received its Distinguished Service Award in 2003. Fujie, 49, graduated from UC Berkeley and received her law degree from Boalt Hall. She replaces Los Angeles deputy district attorney Steve Ipsen.

John McNicholas

McNicholas, 68, practices with two sons and a daughter in the firm of McNicholas & McNicholas LLP, and has been a trial lawyer for 42 years. He is a certified trial specialist in civil litigation by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and served on the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. He received his law degree from Loyola Law School. He replaces Los Angeles attorney David Marcus.

Danni Murphy

Murphy, 57, is supervisor and “head of court” of the Orange County public defender’s South Justice Center branch office and was president of the county bar association in 2001. She has a long resume of bar association activities and is active in local legal charities. Murphy received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and her law degree from Western State. She will take the seat vacated by Orange County attorney Joel Miliband.

Maralee MacDonald

Sacramento attorney Maralee MacDonald will serve as the CYLA representative to the board of governors next year, replacing AP Diaz, an assistant city attorney in Los Angeles. Now CYLA president, MacDonald works for Boutin Dentino Gibson DeGiusto Hodell Inc.

The winners of the CYLA board election are: Eric Lifschitz, a solo practitioner in San Francisco who specializes in toxic mold litigation; Rachael Cianfrani, a Riverside deputy public defender; Katherine Hren, an associate with Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt in Universal City, who specializes in labor and employment law; and Sean Paisan, a civil litigation attorney with Shaw Terhar & LaMontagne LLP in Los Angeles.

No candidate ran for the District 8 CYLA seat in Orange County, so someone will be appointed.

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