Judge Holly Fujie to Receive Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award
By Susan L. Formaker
Inspiring. Barrier-breaking. Brilliant. Committed. Tireless. These are just a few of the qualities Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Fujie has embodied throughout her career as a distinguished lawyer, judge, mentor, and leader in the community. For her excellence as a jurist and her longstanding vigorous service and inspiration to the women lawyers of California, Judge Fujie will be honored by California Women Lawyers (CWL) with the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award on June 10, 2016, at CWL’s 23rd Annual Southern California Judicial Reception, to be held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
The Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award was established in 1994 in honor of Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, a founder and provisional president of CWL, to recognize her pioneering work for women’s rights and struggle to achieve equal opportunity for women in the law. Judge Fujie has carried the torch of equality through her innovative and indefatigable efforts on behalf of women and minorities in the law and through her extraordinary accomplishments.
Judge Fujie was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in December 2011. Before her appointment, she was an equity shareholder at Buchalter Nemer, specializing in complex litigation. Her expertise resulted in her being named as one of California’s Top 100 Lawyers, one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Southern California, and, from 2004 to 2011, a Southern California Super Lawyer. Judge Fujie was the third woman and the first Asian American to serve as President of the State Bar of California from 2008 to 2009. As President, she focused on the advancement of women and minorities in the legal profession. Among other efforts, she created a program called “You Can Do It! Successful Women Lawyers Discuss Combining Families and Careers,” which was presented at 16 law schools across the state and in partnership with numerous co-sponsoring organizations (including CWL). As a mother of two children and leader in the legal arena, Judge Fujie understood that showing women law students how they could combine a career in the law and a family remained a critical issue for the profession. Judge Fujie similarly worked to engage law students in the profession when she persuaded many bar organizations to offer free or significantly discounted memberships to students, and she paid for discounted memberships herself when she was State Bar President.
Since 1992, Judge Fujie has served on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Judicial Advisory Committee, and she was its Chair from 2008 until her elevation to the bench. In that role, she has advised the Senator and the White House on federal judicial nominations and on the nomination of U.S. Attorneys for the Central District of California. Through her work on this committee, Judge Fujie has been an effective voice in advancing diversity on the federal bench.
Judge Fujie’s list of accomplishments and leadership positions does not stop there. Since being appointed to the Superior Court, Judge Fujie has served as a member of the California Judicial Council’s Family Law Curriculum Committee and its Commission on the Future of California’s Courts and as Vice Chair of the California Supreme Court’s Board of Trustees Appointment Nominations Committee. Judge Fujie has also served on the California State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness and on the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Diversity and Community Outreach Committees, as well as the Superior Court Family Law Division’s Operational Committee. She co-chaired the Court’s Judicial Diversity Summit, held in 2015 to encourage and assist diverse candidates for the judiciary, and she organized the 2013 Celebration of Diversity on the Bench Under Governor Jerry Brown.
Judge Fujie served as President of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association and of the influential Los Angeles Chancery Club, Vice President of the California Bar Foundation, and Chair of the Board of Bet Tzedek Legal Services. She has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) since the early 1990s, and she is a longstanding member of the Advisory Boards of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles and the Women of Color Coalition of Boalt Hall. She is a Senior Advisor to the Multicultural Bar Alliance of Southern California. Judge Fujie has previously served on a number of other boards, including those of CWL and of the Federal Bar Association, and on many local, court and state bar committees and commissions. Judge Fujie has also authored chapters in a number of legal publications and spoken frequently on topics related to diversity and bias in the legal profession. She has received numerous awards for her work in diversity and bar and bench leadership.
In the materials submitted by WLALA to nominate Judge Fujie for the award, her legendary mentoring activities were consistently mentioned. Through her dedication, enthusiasm, generosity, and boundless energy, Judge Fujie helps others to reach goals they never thought possible. Several of the letters submitted on Judge Fujie’s behalf in support of her nomination emphasized that no one is more qualified for the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award than Judge Fujie. CWL could not agree more and is honored to name Judge Fujie as its 2016 Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award recipient.
Please join CWL in celebrating Judge Fujie’s accomplishments at CWL’s 23rd Annual Southern California Judicial Reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on June 10, 2016, at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. You can register for the event at http://www.cwl.org/events/23rd-Annual-Southern-California-Judicial-Reception-106/details.
Susan L. Formaker is WLALA's Board of Governors CWL Liaison. This article was republished with permission from the CWL newsletter.