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Diversity advocates receive bar honors

Guy Rounsaville

Guy Rounsaville Jr., executive vice president and general counsel with Visa International in Foster City, and the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association received the State Bar’s 4th Annual Diversity Awards last month.

Rounsaville, 61, a tireless advocate of diversity in law schools and law firms, co-founded the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP), which has enlisted corporations to increase opportunities for minority lawyers. Starting with just five major businesses in 1989, CMCP has grown into a coalition of more than 350 California-based corporations, law firms and bar associations working to provide equal opportunity to lawyers of color at corporations and public agencies.

“I can say without fear of contradiction that Guy’s work has changed thousands of lives for the better,” said Drucilla Stender Ramey, co-founder of CMCP and former president of the Bar Association of San Francisco. She pointed out that it was Rounsaville who, individual letter by individual letter, brought companies into the CMCP and instilled in their officers the need for commitment to diversity.

“He was equally demanding with respect to his own department, not only dramatically increasing the diversity of his in-house lawyers, but also hiring dozens of minority-owned law firms to work on his cases,” she said.

The Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCLA) was recognized for its work in promoting diversity throughout its membership, helping underrepresented minority law students increase their chance of success in law school, addressing the issue of retention of women in the legal profession, conducting outreach to high school students, offering scholarships and fellowships to students from underrepresented areas and going into minority communities to provide legal services.

“SCCLA has enabled generations of Asian American law students and attorneys to overcome obstacles and advance in the practice of law,” said U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew. “SCCLA is also unique in the instrumental role it has played in assisting and forging bonds with other multi-ethnic and multi-gender bar associations.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley also noted that SCCLA has been a key player in fighting the unauthorized practice of law, which often is aimed at immigrants.

In addition, Cooley noted, SCCLA volunteers helped coordinate a defense against members of the Trevor Law Group, who resigned from the bar after facing disbarment because of thousands of what have been described as “shakedown lawsuits.” “Their work caused the State Bar to launch an investigation,” said Cooley.

The Diversity Awards were established in 2001 by the bar’s board of governors “to recognize outstanding efforts made by a bar association and an individual attorney in promoting diversity in the legal profession, in particular, to recognize efforts ensuring the full and equal opportunity of all persons for entry and advancement in California’s legal profession.”

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