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APRIL 2013 NEWSLETTER - Power Lunch
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March's Federal Power Lunch 

 By Hon. Sandra Klein



On March 15, 2013, the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, WilmerHale and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California hosted a Federal Court Power Lunch in Los Angeles.  A Power Lunch is a program for high school students who come to a courthouse to meet judges and lawyers and to learn about the law and the legal profession.  A number of WLALA Board members, including Bankruptcy Judge Sandra Klein, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Nicole Bershon, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nili Moghaddam and Cathy Ostiller, Jessica Kurzban, Elissa Barrett, and Julie Gerchik participated in the Lunch. 

Approximately 30 students from the New Designs Charter School attended the Power Lunch, which was held in the Roybal Building.  In addition to the judges mentioned above, District Court Judges Dale Fischer and Philip Gutierrez, Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal, Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Peter Carroll, and Bankruptcy Judges Neil Bason, Mark Houle and Ernest Robles were enthusiastic participants in the Lunch.  And, many other attorneys participated in the program and helped make the program a success. 

The theme of the Lunch was overcoming adversity and fear and dreaming big.  Judge Klein kicked off the program by introducing the guest speakers, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr. and Judge Houle.  U.S. Attorney Birotte is “top prosecutor” in this District and is responsible for representing the federal government in all litigation in federal courts, including criminal prosecutions for violations of federal law, civil litigation by and against the government, and actions to collect judgments and restitution on behalf of victims and taxpayers.  U.S. Attorney Birotte spoke about his background, dreaming big and never letting fear get in the way.  Judge Houle spoke about his background and how he overcame adversity.

Judge Gutierrez and Judge Segal welcomed the students and provided information about their backgrounds and challenges that they faced in their personal and professional lives. 

Judge Klein then introduced each judge and provided some fun facts about the judges.  Guess which judge accidentally rear-ended a police car and talked his/her way out of it?  (Please see below for the answer to this question).  

During the Power Lunch, which was generously sponsored by WilmerHale and WLALA, the judges, lawyers and other volunteers and students sat at tables named for the current, as well as some noteworthy former, Supreme Court Justices.  The Bankruptcy Court staff created a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of the Judges and a wonderful set of “Justices cards” that contained pictures of U.S. Supreme Court Justices on one side and important information about each Justice (the Justice’s “stats”) on the other side.

The highlight of the Lunch was playing the “Legal Jeopardy” game, which is played like a traditional Jeopardy game, and has categories including “Judges and Lawyers”, “Trials”, “Bill of Rights”, “Think Like a Lawyer”, and “Who’s Who in the Courtroom”.  The students had a great time answering the questions and learning about the law and the legal profession.

At the end of the Power Lunch, Judge Klein thanked everyone for participating and making the Federal Court Power Lunch such a success. 

SPOILER ALERT:  Judge Houle accidentally rear-ended a police car and talked his way out of a ticket!


Hon. Sandra Klein is the WLALA Board of Governors’ Federal Court Liaison and a Federal Bankruptcy Judge.