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DECEMBER 2013 - Meet the Board
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Meet the Board


Hon. Judith C. Chirlin (Ret.)
Member at Large







Tell us about your background. I was a civil litigator for 10 years, a Superior Court Judge for 24 1/2 years, a mediator and arbitrator with Judicate West for 2 years and now have been the Executive Director of the Western Justice Center for 2 years -- which is a full time job, although I still do a few mediations and arbitrations with Judicate West. I also do volunteer work with the Rule of Law  Initiative of the American Bar Association, the Office of Global Women's Issues of the State Department and the National Association of Women Judges. I think I will have to go back on the Bench to get some rest! 

What is your role for WLALA and how would you like to see members get more involved? I think of myself as the institutional memory of WLALA, as I have been a member since I graduated from law school (in 1974) and on the Board for most years after that (with about a 5 or 6 year hiatus when I was on the California Women Lawyers Board.) I also think of myself as a cheer-leader for WLALA, because it not only does great work, but I have been the beneficiary of friendship, mentoring and support through the years from some really terrific women. I hope that younger lawyers will become involved and get the same things from WLALA that I have gotten over the years. 

What are your passions and interests? My passion -- since law school -- has been to improve the justice system. In my early years as a lawyer, that drew me to get involved in bar work. At one point I served as a Judicial Fellow working on projects in the administration of justice for U. S. Chief Justice Warren Burger. My passion for improving the administration of justice also led me to create the "So You Want to be a Judge" programs (still presented by CWL) on the theory that one way to improve the administration of judges is to make sure that a significant portion of the population is not excluded from the bench just because of gender or ethnicity. It has also led me to consult internationally on justice system reform (in over 20 countries) -- and most recently has resulted in my working on women's issues as they are dealt with by legal and political systems around the world. I am also interested in spreading peaceful conflict resolution techniques and programs in schools (through the programs of the Western Justice Center.



Tanya L. Forsheit
Career Development and Life Balance

Tell us about your background.
I am a corporate privacy and data security attorney – I handle compliance, transactional, and litigation matters.  I spent a dozen years as an associate and then a partner at Proskauer, and then in 2009 I started my own national boutique firm InfoLawGroup LLP (we now have 16 lawyers across the country).  I have been an active member of WLALA since 2005 and have been on the Board since 2006; I was President in 2011-2012.
What is your role for WLALA and how would you like to see members get more involved? I stay involved in WLALA as a Past President because I think it provides invaluable resources for women looking for fulfillment and sustainability in their professional lives.  The network of women is amazing and allows members to get to know lawyers from every corner of the Los Angeles legal community – private practice, in-house, government, public service, and the judiciary.  This year, as co-chair of the Career Development and Life Balance committee, I am going back to my roots – encouraging women to hang in there and find other working moms, wives and daughters who have made it work despite considerable obstacles and persistent but subtle bias in the profession.
What are your passions and interests? 1. My kids:  Ian, 10 years old, and Talia, 10 months old.  2.  My husband.  3. Sting and The Police.

Susan Formaker
California Women Lawyers Liasion

Tell us about your background.  I currently serve as Presiding Administrative Law Judge in the General Jurisdiction Division of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) in Los Angeles. I became an Administrative Law Judge at OAH in 2008. For almost twenty years before joining OAH, I was an in-house litigator for financial institutions; I was also a litigator in private practice for a few years in the early part of my legal career.

What is your role for WLALA and how would you like to see members get more involved?  WLALA is an affiliate of CWL, which is the statewide women's bar association. In my role as CWL Liaison, I seek to ensure that the two organizations support each other's programs and events and work together in promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession and in society. I would like to see more members of both organizations get involved by helping to plan an event or volunteering to work on a committee or project. A little bit of involvement by a lot of people working together can make a real difference!

What are your passions and interests?  I am passionate about promoting equality in both professional and personal arenas. I am also very interested in judicial education and have served as a faculty member for the National Judicial College; a particular interest is considering the cognitive processes involved in decision making. Aside from my work and professional activities, I love reading, music, hiking, dancing, going to museums and galleries, and spending time with my family and close friends.
Katherine M. Forster
Downtown Women's Center Liaison
Tell us about your background. I am a labor and employment lawyer with Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where I defend companies in class action and single-plaintiff litigation and advise clients on labor law compliance.  Law is my second career; I used to be a project manager in the aerospace and defense industry.  I am a graduate of Princeton University and USC Law School.
What is your role for WLALA and how would you like to see members get more involved? I act as a liaison between WLALA and the Downtown Women’s Center, which provides day center services, health services, case management, job skills training, and permanent supportive housing to women on Skid Row.  WLALA is a longtime supporter of DWC, and with DWC’s expansion over the last several years, there are more opportunities than ever for WLALA members to get involved and give back.  There is so much happening at DWC that there is truly something for every interest.
What are your passions and interests? Besides WLALA, DWC, and other community activities?  In my personal life, I enjoy wine collecting – my particular passion is old Champagne, but my collection also includes Bordeaux and California wines, and I am getting more into Italian wines.  I love to cook and to eat out at good restaurants, everything from the finest of fine dining to my personal favorite: old-school Cal-Mex cuisine.  And I love music – classical was my first love, but these days it’s all about rock and roll (hard rock, classic rock, metal, thrash, blues rock, rockabilly, surf, prog, glam, punk, 60s, 70s, 80s, you name it).


Hon. Holly J. Fujie
Judicial/State Court Liaison
Tell us about your background. I am a Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, currently assigned to Dept. 87 in Mosk, a Family Law assignment.  Before my appointment in 2011 I was a partner with Buchalter Nemer, doing complex civil litigation.  I have been on the Board for over 20 years and in 2008-2009 I was the first Asian American President of the California State Bar.
What is your role for WLALA and how would you like to see members get more involved? As State Court Judicial liaison, I work to increase communication and involvement with WLALA in the State Court judiciary.  WLALA Members can help by reaching out to members of the judiciary to get them involved, or identifying to me those judges whom they think should get involved so I can reach out to them. 
What are your passions and interests? My passions are, in no particular order: my family (husband Lee Cotugno and our two kids, Sabrina (23) and Tom (16)), mentoring law students and lawyers, helping families to survive and thrive after separation, divorce and/or domestic violence, increasing the pipeline for women and minorities to the judiciary, women's and minorities' issues in general, travel, reading, and antique jewelry.

Anne Grignon
Amicus Briefs 


Tell us about your background. I started out as an admiralty lawyer in Long Beach arresting vessels and determining title to buried treasure!  Now I am an appellate attorney at Reed Smith, involved in everything from drafting dispositive trial court motions, to appellate briefs to petitions for review with the California Supreme Court.  Lately, I have developed a niche providing appellate consultation for ongoing trials, which consists of immediate review of daily transcripts, assistance in preserving the appellate record and in drafting pocket briefs and dispositive motions as needed.

What is your role for WLALA and how would you like to see members get more involved? My role for WLALA is to review requests for WLALA to file amicus briefs in support of various issues that affect women.  When WLALA accepts such requests, my co-chair and I either draft the supporting amicus briefs ourselves or provide advice and support to any other groups filing such a brief.  We would love to see more requests for amicus brief support, so if any of our members come across a case affecting important rights for women, they should bring it to the committee’s attention.

What are your passions and interests?  My husband and I love to go sailing to Catalina with the love of our life—our terrier mix named Alf (yes he does bear a resemblance to Alf the alien).  I also enjoy traveling the world, having just returned from an amazing trip to Italy where I was able to refresh myself on the art history course I took back in the day, and satisfy my love of pasta and pizza!  In my free time I like to curl up with a good book (preferably a mystery) in front of the fire.