LACBA Update Back Issues - June 2015

Justice Joan Dempsey Klein to Receive LACBA’s Outstanding Jurist Award

The award will be presented during the 2015 LACBA Installation and Awards Dinner. 

The Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) has selected Hon. Joan Dempsey Klein as the recipient of its prestigious Outstanding Jurist Award. The award will be presented during LACBA’s Installation and Awards Dinner on June 25 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles.

“Every woman practicing law today owes a debt of gratitude to Justice Klein, whose career opened new and exciting opportunities for women in the legal profession,” said LACBA President Linda L. Curtis. “She is an inspiration to each of us, and her contributions to the law and equality will live on for generations.”

“Thank you for this recognition—It gives me the opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to the Los Angeles County Bar Association for its support of women in the bar and on the bench,” said Justice Klein. “I hope the commitment will continue. Such assurance will make my retirement more acceptable.” 

A pioneer on behalf of women in the legal profession, Justice Klein is the former Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Three, and was one of its longest-tenured justices, having served on the bench for more than 51 years before retiring late last year. 

She graduated from UCLA Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1955, working for seven years as a state deputy attorney general prior to her appointment to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1963. Justice Klein was the first UCLA Law School graduate to be appointed to the bench. As Presiding Judge of the Municipal Court, she initiated citywide Bail by Mail and inaugurated the Los Angeles County Planning and Research Unit for the courts.

In 1974, Justice Klein was elected to the Superior Court before being appointed to the California Court of Appeal in 1978, becoming the first female Presiding Justice in California.

But Justice Klein’s legacy goes well beyond the bench. She was the co-founder and first president of the National Association of Women Judges and the founding president of California Women Lawyers. She also helped found the International Association of Women Judges.

Among her numerous awards, she was named the Los Angeles Times’ Woman of the Year, received the American Bar Association (ABA) Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, the State Bar of California Bernard E. Witkin Medal, the California Women Lawyers’ Joan Dempsey Klein Award, and LACBA’s Trailblazers of the Bar Award.

About the Outstanding Jurist Award. LACBA’s Outstanding Jurist Award is presented annually to a current or past member of the federal or state judiciary in Los Angeles County who has made significant contributions from the bench through judicial ability and experience, temperament and demeanor, and knowledge of the law, as well as improvement or education of the legal community, the practice of law, and the community at large.