ABA Commission on Women Lawyers Recognizes Chief Justice

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Contact: Lynn Holton, Public Information Officer, 415-865-7726

April 9, 2012

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye to Receive National Award from ABA Commission on Women Lawyers

chief justice in robe
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

SAN FRANCISCO—Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has received the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, which is awarded each year by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession.

Established in 1991, the Margaret Brent Award is named after the first woman lawyer in America. It recognizes the accomplishments of women lawyers who have excelled in their fields and have paved the way to success for other women lawyers. The award will be presented to the Chief Justice and four other recipients at a special luncheon at the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago on Sunday, August 5, 2012. The other recipients are:

• Marcia Devins Greenberger, co-president, National Women's Law Center, Washington, D.C.
• Joan M. Hall, retired partner, Jenner & Block LLP, Chicago, Illinois.
• Arlinda Locklear, attorney, Arlinda Locklear Law Office, Washington, D.C.
• Amy W. Schulman, executive vice president & general counsel of Pfizer, president of Pfizer Nutrition, New York, New York.

Previous winners range from small-firm practitioners in Alabama and Alaska to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was sworn into office on January 3, 2011, following her nomination by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in July 2010, her confirmation in August 2010, and her approval by voters in November 2010.  Before taking office as the state’s top jurist, she served for more than 20 years on California trial and appellate courts.  She is the first minority and the second woman to serve as Chief Justice of California.

The Chief Justice’s first year in office was marked by the fourth straight year of budget cutbacks to the judicial branch. She immediately organized a diverse coalition within the bar and branch to help advocate for greater funding for the courts. She has travelled more than 30,000 miles across the state to push for adequate court funding to ensure equal access to justice for Californians, and to meet with judges, lawyers, bar associations, community groups, and students. 

As chair of the Judicial Council of California, the policy-making body of the judicial branch, the Chief Justice has appointed judicial committees to oversee priority programs in technology and court facilities. She increased transparency at Judicial Council meetings, appointed new leadership, launched a Judicial Council outreach program to improve connections with the trial courts, and began a thorough review of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the staff agency of the Judicial Council.