Orange County Women
 Lawyers Association
For Women Lawyers and Those Who Support Their Advancement

Call for Nominations for CWL's Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist and Fay Stender Awards

Thursday, March 17, 2016 9:18 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

The nomination deadline for the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award has been extended.
The Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award was first presented in 1994. At the time, it was the "Distinguished Jurist" Award and its first recipient was Joan Dempsey Klein, a Justice on the Second District Court of Appeal in California. Justice Klein is a champion of women's rights and a pioneer in the struggle to achieve equal opportunity for women in the law. She was a founder and provisional president of CWL and the first president of the National Association of Women Judges, and she has spent considerable time giving support and positive reinforcement to women in the legal profession. She is well known as an excellent judge who listens, encourages dialogue and fosters consensus. She accomplished all of this while raising five children.
Candidates for the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award are evaluated for excellence as jurists and for longstanding vigorous service and inspiration to the women lawyers of California. Those eligible for consideration are from the southern portion of the State.
The Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award is presented annually at CWL's Southern California Judicial Reception to be held this year on June 24, 2016.
Please click here for a list of past recipients.
Nomination for the Joan Dempsey Klein award will be reviewed by the Awards Committee, and the Board of Governors will select the recipient of this honor by April 15, 2016. 

CWL established the Fay Stender Award in 1982 in honor of Fay Stender, a Bay Area attorney who spent much of her professional life fighting for prisoners' rights.
Fay Abrahams Stender was born in Berkeley in 1932, the third generation of her mother's family to be born in the Bay Area. She attended Reed College and graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a major in English Literature, going on to receive a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1956.
After clerking for Associate Justice John W. Shenk, California Supreme Court, Ms. Stender associated with criminal defense attorney Charles Garry, where, over the next ten years, she founded the Prison Law Project and represented a number of prisoners, including George Jackson, whose prison letters were published in 1970 as Soledad Brother. She was also active in professional organizations on the national, state and local levels. She was a member of CWL's first elected board, and even after leaving the board remained actively involved in the organization's work. Fay chaired CWL's Joint Custody Project, and served on the advisory Committee of the Women's Litigation Unit. She also chaired the San Francisco Bar Association's Employment of Women Committee, and served on the charter board of Equal Rights Advocates' Lesbian Rights Project.
In the early morning hours of Memorial Day, 1979, Fay was shot five times by an intruder who falsely accused her of betraying George Jackson. Gravely injured and seriously disabled, she committed suicide one year later. She was survived by her mother, sister, husband, two children, and by numerous friends and colleagues.
Throughout her life, Fay undertook unpopular causes and worked with under-represented groups and individuals. Her tenacity, creativity, and compelling sense of justice were legendary, and her commitment, energy and integrity enriched all who were privileged to work with her.
The annual award is given to a feminist attorney who, like Fay Stender, is committed to the representation of women, disadvantaged groups and unpopular causes, and whose courage, zest for life and demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual make her a role model for women attorneys.

Candidates for the award are judged on the basis of the following attributes which were characteristic of Fay Stender:

  • Zest, humanity, personal courage, forceful presence and non-conformity;
  • Demonstrated commitment to under-represented or disadvantaged groups or unpopular causes.
  • Demonstrated feminist perspective;
  • Vigorous advocacy on behalf of women litigants which serves as a model for women attorneys; and
  • Demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual.
  • Please click here for a list of past recipients.

The Fay Stender award is presented annually at CWL's Dinner, which is held in conjuction with the California State Bar Annual Meeting. This year, the Dinner will be held at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, on September 29th.
Nomination for the Fay Stender award will be reviewed by the Awards Committee, and the Board of Governors will select the recipient of this honor by May 13, 2016. 
Nominations should consist of the following:

  • Nominee's Resume/Bio
  • Nominee's Photo
  • Supporting Statement
    A letter supporting the nominee as a worthy recipient of this honor with  a description of the candidate's qualifications for this award.
  • Articles and Letters
    To present a comprehensive picture of the nominee, you may include news/magazine articles written by or about the candidate and letters of support from individuals or organizations.

The nomination and supporting materials should be sent to co-chairs of the Awards Committee,  Amee Mikacich at and Renee Galente at or mailed to:
California Women Lawyers
700 R Street, Ste. 200
Sacramento, CA 95811

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