LACBA Women's History Month Honorees

LACBA Celebrates Over 140 Years of Service to the Los Angeles Legal Community and Recognizes Past Bar Presidents in Honor of Women's History Month


Janella T. Gholian-photo
Janella T. Gholian

Janella Gholian, Special Counsel at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP,  concentrates her practice in litigation matters, with particular emphasis in labor and employment matters, including wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination, harassment, breach of contract and wage and hour claims. She has experience advising clients on human resource needs, including hiring, termination, employment handbooks, policy implementation and other similar strategic decisions. Ms. Gholian has significant experience drafting settlement/severance agreements, executive contracts/compensation agreements, employment contracts and non-solicitation/non-compete agreements. She also has participated in a number of pro bono matters, including domestic violence/restraining orders, civil and probate cases. Janella currently volunteers with LACBA’s Domestic Violence Legal Services Project.  

While attending law school, Janella served as editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review.


Mary Thornton House-photo
Mary Thornton House

Judge Mary Thornton House retired from the Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2018 after serving for 22 years. She has started her third career as a private neutral for Alternative Resolution Centers (ARC). Starting out in the Pasadena Municipal Court handling criminal cases, Judge House quickly transitioned to civil and probate assignments in Pasadena and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Judge House has been honored throughout her career by many organizations. In 2004, Los Angeles County honored her as one of its ‘Women of the Year’ and she was named Judge of the Year by the Pasadena Bar Association. In 2008, the California Judges Association awarded her the Bernard S. Jefferson Award for Excellence in Judicial Education. In 2011, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association awarded her the Excellence in Judicial Administration award for her leadership in getting California’s Expedited Jury Trials legislation passed, the development of the current universal judgment form, and simplification of small claims pleadings. In 2013, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association named her their Judge of the Year.

Judge House was Dean of California B.E. Witkin Judicial College which provides for education of all judicial officers in California. The college is a nationally recognized institution and exemplar for judicial education where she has been an instructor and seminar leader since 1997. In 2007, Yale Law School selected her to teach at their China Law Center in Beijing, China, courses on small claims and limited civil procedures to selected judges from throughout China.

Judge House was an Assistant City Attorney and civil litigator for the City of Los Angeles. She graduated from UCLA and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego. Judge House is a member of the Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine Editorial Board. Her article profiling Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile will be featured in the April Edition.


Eva K. Freel-photo
Eva K. Freel

Eva Freel is an associate at Foley & Lardner LLP. She is a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Practice.  

Eva served as a summer associate with Foley, where she gained legal experience in the area of patent law. Prior to joining Foley, Eva was a judicial extern at the Central District of California’s Patent Pilot Program, where she worked for a panel of federal judges on patent cases. She also worked for the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law at its pro bono initiatives, including Startup Legal Garage Clinic, Trademark Law Clinic, and Patent Law Clinic. Eva currently volunteers with LACBA’s Domestic Violence Legal Services Project.


Valeria Granata-photo
Valeria Granata

Valeria Granata is a litigation attorney at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman and Dicker LLP’s Los Angeles office. Her practice focuses primarily on general liability, personal injury, real estate and commercial litigation. 

Ms. Granata has extensive trial experience, representing corporate and individual clients. She successfully litigated several cases in the Los Angeles Superior Court. She also successfully settled numerous civil matters at mediation. For her trial achievements, Ms. Granata was named SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2017 and 2018.

  Ms. Granata earned her LL.M in 2014 with honors from Loyola Law School and her J.D. in 2012 from the Catholic University of Milan. She is licensed to practice law in California and New York.

Ms. Granata has been appointed to the LACBA Diversity Committee and to the LACBA Attorney Client Mediation and Arbitration Services Committee. She also served as Vice President of the Italian American Lawyers Association in 2017.


Maria Hall-photo
Maria Hall

Maria Hall is a civil rights lawyer and director of the Los Angeles Incubator Consortium (LAIC), a legal incubator that supports recent graduates of Loyola, UCLA and Southwestern Law Schools as they build sustainable, community-based solo practices. LAIC’s mission is to increase access to affordable legal services and justice.

Now in its fifth year, LAIC has nurtured the development of 52 solo community lawyers in a variety of practice areas. Its participants speak 23 different languages, and they have together contributed more than 6,000 pro bono hours to LA’s most vulnerable populations.

Maria became a solo attorney in 2005, two years after graduating from USC Gould School of Law. During her post-graduate fellowship at Communities for a Better Environment, an environmental justice organization in Southeast LA, she saw firsthand how thousands of Angelenos lacked access to affordable lawyers. She then decided to build a firm representing low and modest income clients in the areas of civil rights, housing, and environmental health and justice. She later expanded her practice to include employment law.

In 2018, Maria founded Lawyers and Communities Together (“Lawyers ACT”), a nonprofit organization that pairs “private public interest” lawyers with social services agencies to implement grassroots community lawyering projects and policies. The group's first project is to provide "legal triage" for a year to program participants of South Bay Center for Counseling in Wilmington. 

Maria is the immediate past president of the board of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and is the current vice president of the board of the Mexican American Bar Foundation. She also serves on the board of the Friends of the LA Law Library. She is an active LACBA member, and enjoys serving on both its Lawyer Referral Service Advisory Committee and its Access to Justice Committee.

Maria received the USC Latino Law Students Association’s Inspirational Alumnus Award in 2017 and Southwestern Law School’s Public Service Program Award in 2018.


Saundra K. Wootton-photo
Saundra K. Wootton

Saundra K. Wootton is litigation partner with Kutak Rock LLP.   She has litigated a number of complex matters in both state and federal court, including claims related to anti-trust/unfair competition, real estate disputes, product defect, employment, environmental, toxic torts, catastrophic injuries and professional malpractice (legal and design professionals).  Her diverse civil litigation experience enables her to effectively serve and advise her clients on a broad range matters both inside and outside of the courtroom.  She has lectured and authored numerous articles/alerts on breaking legal developments.

Saundra also enjoys serving to advance Kutak Rock LLP’s robust diversity and inclusions initiatives and its pro bono initiatives.

In the community, Saundra dedicates her time as a member of LACBA’s Diversity in the Profession Committee.  She has been actively assisting LACBA with its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion at all levels in the legal profession and in advancing LACBA’s invitation to all legal employers to adopt its “Pledge to Promote Diversity.”  She has also participated in the coordination, facilitation and/or presentation of collaborative legal educational programs and many pipeline mentoring programs facilitated by LACBA’s Diversity in the Profession Committee, Southwestern Law School and/or the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women. 

Born in Sacramento, California, Saundra earned her B.A. Degree in Communications with Distinction from the University of the California, San Diego, in 1998.   During her tenure at UCSD, she was the recipient of President’s Washington D.C. Scholarship and interned in the Domestic Violence Unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Washington D.C.   Saundra received her J.D. from Southwestern Law School in 2002.  During her tenure at Southwestern Law School, she was a recipient of the Schumacher Minority Leadership Scholarship.  Saundra also taught remedies to law students at Southwestern Law School.


Angela Berry-photo
Angela Berry

Ms. Berry is an accomplished criminal defense attorney who practices in both trial courtrooms and before the appellate courts. Her practice involves a wide range of cases, including the defense of the accused in simple misdemeanor misconduct and those accused of capital murder. She credits her precise and persuasive motion and appellate writing to her clerkship with the California Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Appeals Section, while attending Loyola Law School in the early 1990’s. Her vast experience in the trial courts is a culmination of trying over 50 cases before a jury.

Ms. Berry currently sits as an executive board member of the Indigent Criminal Defense Appointments (ICDA) Program, an arm of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, which provides indigent criminal defendants legal representation when the County’s public defenders’ offices cannot accept the appointments. There, she collaborates with other board members to address policy matters and concerns of the panel members. She also sits as a member of the Billing and Discipline Committee for the same organization. Ms. Berry is actively engaged in, and sits on the Board of, the Criminal Courts Bar Association, an organization of criminal defense attorneys, judges, prosecutors, law students and private individuals, whose stated goals are the protection of individual rights and liberties, improvement of the Criminal Justice System, and continuing education of the Criminal Defense Bar. She is a former Chair of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association’s (SFVBA) Criminal Law Section, where for four years she organized events and MCLE programs that benefit criminal law practitioners. She currently sits on the Attorney Referral Service Committee for the SFVBA.

Ms. Berry is a guest speaker, providing criminal law presentations to civil law firms, high schools, the Daughters of the Revolution, and the defense bar. She is currently preparing presentations in association with the Los Angeles Law Library. She is the mother of two, the step-mother of two, loves running marathons and has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.


Vidhya Ragunathan-photo
Vidhya Ragunathan

Vidhya joined ICLC as its Pro Bono Coordinator in January 2015 and is currently its Director of Pro Bono. Prior to joining ICLC, she practiced complex commercial litigation for over five years at the law firms of Crowell & Moring LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Vidhya handled a variety of matters relating to antitrust, real estate, contracts, environmental law, and insurance. Vidhya also maintained an active pro bono practice, representing a variety of clients on issues such as immigration, guardianship, and housing law. Vidhya is active in the legal community, currently serving on the board of the Women Lawyer’s Association of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee. She was a member of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California (SABA-SC), a president of SABA-SC’s Public Interest Foundation, a board member of the South Asian Network, and a member of the State Bar of California’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

Vidhya received degrees in Political Science and Psychology from UCLA and her J.D. from UCLA.


Jenny Farrell-photo
Mary McKelvey

Mary McKelvey, Principal at Polsinelli, is a fierce and highly respected trial attorney who is influential in every aspect of her career, i.e. in litigating difficult cases for national and global clients, in handling high stakes pro bono cases, in successfully assuming leadership positions at the state and local bar levels, in supporting the next generation of women lawyers, in mentoring at-risk non-lawyer women, and in proactively volunteering in the community. In addition to extensive trial experience, Mary has wide range of experience in all stages of litigation including trial preparation, taking and defending percipient and expert witness depositions, developing innovative case handling strategy during discovery, and drafting complex pleadings and arguing dispositive motions in both state and federal court. Mary masterfully presents complex facts, concepts, medical vocabulary, historical data, scientific data, and other complicated issues in ways that jurors and judges can understand and use to arrive at fair and just decisions.

Mary has a deep passion for pro bono work and serves as the Pro Bono Coordinator for Polsinelli’s Los Angeles office. In her own words, “Doing pro bono work has allowed me glimpses into realities I would not otherwise have encountered. It has allowed me a multi-dimensional perspective on important issues such as immigration policies and the effectiveness of our criminal justice system. It has allowed me to assist others that I would never even have had the privilege of encountering but for my handling of their matter on a pro bono basis.”


Michele
Michele J. Beilke

Michele is a partner in Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s Labor and Employment group. She has extensive experience efficiently and effectively litigating single -plaintiff discrimination and multi-plaintiff cases in state and federal courts. She also has extensive national jury trial and arbitration experience. She litigates state and national wage and hour class actions, and discrimination and harassment claims under state and federal law. Michele also provides advice and counsel with respect to California and FLSA wage and hour issues, FMLA, CFRA and ADA issues and leave policies, WARN requirements, and non-solicitation and non-compete agreements. She prepares responses to EEOC and DFEH administrative charges and has represented employers in connection with Department of Labor audits. She has experience handling arbitrations before the FINRA and private arbitrators. Her practice also includes speaking for in-house attorneys, human resources professionals and supervisors, conducting sexual harassment training for employers, drafting employment agreements and developing and implementing employee policies.


Jenny Farrell-photo
Jenny Farrell

On January 2, 2019, Jenny Farrell became the Executive Director of Mental Health Advocacy Services. Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) is a private, non-profit organization established in 1977 to provide free legal services to people with mental health disabilities. MHAS assists both children and adults, with an emphasis on obtaining government benefits and services, protecting rights, and fighting discrimination. MHAS also serves as a resource to the community by providing training and technical assistance to attorneys, mental health professionals, consumer and family member groups, and other advocates. Finally, MHAS participates in impact litigation in an effort to improve the lives of people with mental disabilities.

Jenny previously served as Director of External Relations of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit legal aid agency that provides free legal services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  At LACLJ, Jenny served in a hybrid role as the organization’s Director of Development, Director of Communications, and Director of Pro Bono & Volunteers.  Jenny directed the fund development and marketing strategy for LACLJ, including Annual Fund, Major Gifts, Special Events, and Law Firm and Corporate Sponsorships. Jenny also oversaw LACLJ’s communication strategies and worked closely with LACLJ’s Board of Directors and Leadership Council to increase financial and volunteer resources for LACLJ’s core services and raise awareness of LACLJ among leaders in the legal, business and philanthropic communities. Finally, Jenny connected private law firms and practitioners to LACLJ by supervising the placement of family law and immigration pro bono cases with both attorneys and law students.

Prior to joining LACLJ, Jenny was an attorney at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, where she focused her practice on litigating complex personal injury, wrongful death, product defect and police brutality cases.

Jenny received her Bachelor’s degree in Government from Smith College, where she graduated cum laude in 2003. Jenny spent five years working at non-profit organizations for environmental, consumer and public health issues before heading to law school. She received her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 2011. While in law school, Jenny was named the 2011 Public Interest Student of the Year and awarded the Mason C. Brown Award for her commitment to public interest issues and talent for trial work.


Monisha Coelho-photo
Monisha Coelho

Ms. Coelho is a distinguished business attorney with international experience. She is amongst a handful of attorneys nationwide who have successfully handled both corporate transactions and litigation matters in California and India. Ms. Coelho has successfully litigated a broad range of complex business, corporate, and real estate cases and obtained multi-million dollar settlements for her clients. She has handled all aspects of federal and state court litigation, mediations, and arbitrations. Ms. Coelho heads the firms India Practice and represents domestic and Indian clients in US-India cross border transactions, litigation, and arbitrations. Her clients include biotech, technology, and energy companies.  

Ms. Coelho was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine. She has been invited to lecture at the UCLA Law School, USC Law School, Loyola Law School, and Los Angeles County Bar Association. She is the author of "Fundamentals of an American Lawsuit (For Business)" - a handbook on how a case progresses in American courts from initiation until trial/settlement. She is the Chair Elect of the Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She was appointed to the LACBA President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession. She runs half marathons, sails, and is a patron of the LA Philharmonic.


Amber Healy-photo
Amber Healy

Amber Healy, Partner at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, focuses her practice on the defense of employers and management in high stakes employment litigation. She has extensive experience litigating wage and hour class and representative actions in state and federal courts throughout California. She has also litigated novel issues concerning the Private Attorneys General Act before both the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Court of Appeal.  Ms. Healy represents clients in all major industries and heads her firm’s Complex Litigation Team.  

Ms. Healy also counsels clients on issues concerning equal pay, employee discipline, privacy, wrongful termination, retaliation, whistleblower, discrimination, harassment, and prevailing wage issues. She frequently represents clients in proceedings before administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Department of Industrial Relations. Ms. Healy currently serves on LACBA’s President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession.


Patricia Phillips-photo
Patricia Phillips

Ms. Phillips was the first woman president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (1984). She received LACBA's highest honor--The Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award (1991)--for her extraordinary contribution to improving the administration of justice in Los Angeles County. Ms. Phillips is now a partner at Phillips Jessner in Los Angeles and specializes in family law and civil litigation.


Morrow-photo
Hon. Margaret M. Morrow (Ret.)

Hon. Margaret M. Morrow (Ret.) was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1988. She received LACBA's highest honor--The Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award (1997)--for her extraordinary contribution to improving the administration of justice in Los Angeles County. Hon. Morrow was appointed to the United States District Court for the Central District of California by President Bill Clinton in 1998. Prior to the appointment, she was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Arnold & Porter. She is currently President and CEO of the nation's largest pro bono law firm, Public Counsel.


Margaret P. Stevens photo
Margaret P. Stevens

Margaret P. Stevens was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2016. Margaret has served as a trustee, president of the Barristers, Finance Committee Chair, and as a member of the Judicial Evaluation Committee. She is a founding and managing partner of Daehnke Stevens LLP and works in the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices.


Danette Meyers photo
Danette Meyers

Danette Meyers was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2008. Danette has served as a trustee, chair of the Criminal Justice Section, member of the Delegation to the Conference of Delegates, and as a member of the Judicial Evaluation Committee. She is currently Deputy District Attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.


Andrea Sheridan Ordin photo
Andrea Sheridan Ordin

Andrea Sheridan Ordin was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1991. Andrea received LACBA's highest honor--The Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award (2011)--for her extraordinary contribution to improving the administration of justice in Los Angeles County. She is now senior counsel at Strumwasser & Woocher.


Justice Laurie D. Zelon-photo
Justice Laurie D. Zelon

Justice Laurie D. Zelon was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1995. Justice Zelon served on LACBA's Federal Courts Committee, Judiciary Committee, Access to Justice Comittee, as well as being a former Board of Trustee member. Justice Zelon currently serves as an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal.


	Linda L. Curtis photo
Linda L. Curtis

Linda L. Curtis was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2014. Linda previously served as chair of LACBA's Business and Corporations Law Section. She has also served on LACBA's Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section Executive Committee. Linda is currently a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Los Angeles office.


Hon. Patricia Schnegg, Ret.-photo
Hon. Patricia Schnegg, Ret.

Judge Patricia Schnegg was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1999. Judge Schnegg was awarded Judge of the Year by LACBA's Criminal Justice Section in 2012. Judge Schnegg retired after 15 years of service for the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2014. Judge Schnegg is currently a neutral for Judicate West.


Edith R. Matthai-photo
Edith R. Matthai

Edith R. Matthai was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2005. She received LACBA's highest honor--The Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award (2014)--for her extraordinary contribution to improving the administration of justice in Los Angeles County. Edith is a founding partner of the law firm Robie & Matthai. The firm handles complex cases at the trial and appellate levels with an emphasis on business disputes, insurance litigation and the representation of attorneys.


Patricia Egan Daehnke-photo
Patricia Egan Daehnke

Patricia Egan Daehnke was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2013. Patricia received the Matthew S. Rae Outstanding Section Leader Award for her service as Chair of the Litigation Section, and she is a past Chair of the LACBA Delegation to the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations. Patricia is a founding partner of Collinson, Daehnke, Inlow & Greco.


Miriam Krinsky-photo
Miriam Krinsky

Miriam Krinsky was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2002. Miriam was the first lawyer from the public sector to hold this position. Ms. Krinsky is currently executive director for Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP). FJP brings together newly elected local prosecutors as part of a network of leaders committed to promoting a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility.


Gretchen M. Nelson-photo
Gretchen M. Nelson

Gretchen M. Nelson was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2007. Ms. Nelson was also past chair of LACBA's Litigation Section. Gretchen is currently of counsel at the law firm of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP. Gretchen is one of the founding members of their Los Angeles office, and she continues to practice in the area of complex class action litigation.


Justice Lee Smalley Edmon-photo
Justice Lee Smalley Edmon

Justice Lee Smalley Edmon was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1998. Justice Edmon has a rich history with LACBA. She is a former president of the Barristers Section, named one of LACBA's Trailblazers of the Bar (2011) and received LACBA's Outstanding Jurist award in 2013. Justice Edmon is a former Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. She is currently Presiding Justice of Division Three of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District.