February was filled with awards: a southern California attorney
who celebrated his 100th birthday was honored as the oldest practicing lawyer in the
state; the Judicial Council honored several of its own for their dedication to various
causes; and women lawyers recognized State Bar executive director Judy Johnson as a role
model for other women lawyers throughout the state.
Women in the Law
State Bar executive director Judy Johnson was honored for her
contributions to the legal profession by the bars Committee on Women in the Law.
At a presentation at the January board of governors meeting, CWIL
chair Ellen Pansky presented Johnson a resolution acknowledging her years of
extraordinary contribution and commitment to the best interests of the State Bar, its
board of governors, the legal profession and the community.
Johnson, the first woman and lawyer of color to
hold the bars top job, also was recognized for balancing her various roles of
leader, litigator, devoted and working mother, sister, friend, teacher and community
Johnson, a graduate of Stanford University and the University of
California Davis School of Law, was an assistant district attorney in San Francisco before
becoming the bars chief trial counsel, heading its discipline operation.
She was named executive director last May.
Jurists of the Year
The Judicial Council of California presented three Distinguished
Service Awards last month to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership
and made significant contributions to the administration of justice in the state.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell and Los Angeles Superior Court
Judge Veronica McBeth received Jurist of the Year awards. They were recognized, in part,
for their work as co-chairs of the Community-Focused Court Planning Imple-mentation
Com-mittee, a group which tries to improve the quality of justice in trial courts by
creating a positive relationship between courts and the communities they serve.
McConnell, who has been a judge since 1978, has a lengthy resume of
volunteer activities, including serving as a member of the Judicial Council and several of
its committees, the California State Senate Task Force on Family Equity, and on the
advisory board for the Center for Public Policy Studies that focused on indigent
representation in civil cases.
A judge since 1981, McBeth also is involved with several judicial and
community organizations. She led the First Impres-sions Project, an outreach program of
the former Los Angeles municipal courts public committee, which was aimed at
educating students about law and the court system. She also is moderator of the National
Consortium of Task Forces and Commissions on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Bias in the
Bernard Witkin Award
Former State Bar President Andrew Guilford received the Bernard E.
Witkin Award for his support of the activities of the California Commission on Access to
Justice. Guilford supported the development last year of the $10 million Equal Access
Fund, which has enabled new court-based self-help centers to be opened around the state.
also helped sustain other commission activities, including its development of training for
judges and the dissemination of information to the states pro per litigants.
The Witkin Award is named for the renowned legal scholar and
recognizes individuals who are not current members of the judiciary but who champion court
Oldest practicing lawyer
When Robert McManical turned 100 last month, he reached two
milestones: in addition to hitting the century mark, he became the oldest practicing
attorney in California.
Born in San Jose Feb. 3, 1901, McManigal received a Bachelor of
Science in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and after
working for six years, enrolled at Boalt Hall, where he was a classmate of Bernard Witkin.
McManigal recalls how Witkin attended class infrequently and then wrote a summary of the
law to prepare for exams. One of his most prized possessions is an early copy of a Witkin
McManigal received his law degree in 1928 and began practicing in Los Angeles,
where he specialized in intellectual property and probate law in a partnership with R.W.
Whann. He has represented two local corporations for more than 50 years.
McManigal currently practices from his South Pasadena home, and often
brings clients to his of-fice to discuss wills and trusts. He also spends time at the
public library, doing legal research and keeping abreast of developments in tax, probate
and patent law.