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ABOUT WLALA - Past Awardees
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WLALA's Annual Awards

The Ernestine Stahlhut Award


The Myra Bradwell Award


The Distinguished Service Award


The Courage Award




            History:  Ernestine Stahlhut was working as a secretary in a law office when she decided to study law.  She was admitted to the California Bar in 1933 and entered private practice.  In 1942, she became Assistant Secretary to the California State Bar Association in charge of the Los Angeles office, the first woman to hold that position.  She was appointed to the Municipal Court by Governor Earl Warren in 1953 and was named Presiding Judge of that Court in 1964.  She died in that office.  Judge Kathleen Parker and Evelyn Whitlow proposed the Award that has been bestowed by Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles in Judge Stahlhut’s memory since 1965. 

            Award Criteria:  This award is given annually to a woman of the legal profession who has attained the respect, admiration and affection of the Bench and Bar by her outstanding character, her dedication to service and her significant contributions to the cause of justice; a person who has challenged women in our profession to excel, and who has been an encouragement to young women in our society to seek the law as a profession.


Hon. Mary Lahey

Edna Covert Plummer

Ariel C. Hilton

Hon. Kathleen Parker

Hon. Mildred L. Lillie

Hon. Shirley M. Hufstedler

Hon. Dorothy Nelson

Ruth J. Lavine

Hon. Joan Dempsey Klein

Hon.Vaino Spencer

Hon. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

Hon. Roberta Ralph

Norma Zarky

Betty Bryant

Hon. Rose Elizabeth Bird

Blanche Bersch

Hon. Barbara Jean Johnson

Ruth Church Gupta

Dawn Tilman, 1983

Harriett Buhai, 1984

Patricia D. Phillips, 1985

Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall, 1986

Katharine Krause, 1987

Hon. Madge S. Watai, 1988

Hon. Candace D. Cooper, 1989

Hon. Joyce L. Kennard, 1990

Hon. Sheila James Kuehl, 1991

Hon. Kathleen Brown, 1992

Anne K. Bingaman, 1993

Hon. Margaret M. Morrow, 1994

Hon. Nora M. Manella, 1995

Molly Munger, 1996

Hon. Arleigh Woods, 1997

Hon.  Florence-Marie Cooper, 1998

Hon. Audrey B. Collins, 1999

Andrea Sheridan Ordin, 2000

Abby J. Leibman, 2001

Hon. Judith Chirlin (Ret.), 2002

Professor Myrna Raeder, 2003

Constance Rice, 2004

Nancy Y. Bekavac, 2005

Antonia Hernandez, 2006

Hon. Laurie D. Zelon, 2007

Hon. Lee Smalley Edmon, 2008

Hon. Kim McLane Wardlaw, 2009

Edith R. Matthai, 2010

Hon Diane Wayne (Ret.), 2011

Hon. Patricia L. Collins (Ret.), 2012

Jackie Lacey, 2013

Judith Bain, 2014

Tani Cantil-Sakauye, 2015

Hon. Maria Stratton, 2016

Susan Westerberg Prager, 2017

Hon. Beverly Reid O'Connell, 2018

Hon. Holly J. Fujie, 2019



            History/Award Criteria:  The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1990 to honor members of WLALA who have brought honor and esteem to the organization by their commitment to public service.  The purpose of this award is to publicly recognize WLALA members who have demonstrated such commitment through, among other things, their pro bono, community service or bar association activities, or by providing legal services to the underrepresented and disadvantaged.


Hon. Mary S. Parker

Betty L. Nordwind

Susan R. Stockel

Mablean Ephriam Paxton

Michael Yamamoto

Rosalyn S. Zakheim

Maria Angeletti

Hon. Diana M. Wheatley

Frances Wender Kandel

Joan Patsy Ostroy

Maurice P. Destouet, 2001

Pamela C. Sellers, 2002

Hon. Holly J. Fujie, 2003

Susan Steinhauser, 2004

Edith R, Matthai, 2005

Meredith Blake, 2006

Eve L. Hill, 2007

Hon. Michelle Williams Court, 2008

Eileen M. Decker, 2010

Kathleen McDowell, 2011

Mary-Christine (M.C.) Sungaila, 2012

Hon. Nicole C. Bershon, 2013

Hon. Beverly Reid O'Connell, 2014

Lisa Jaskol, 2015

Katherine M. Forster, 2016

Anne C. Tremblay, 2017

Hon. Sandra R. Klein, 2018

Nancy Mintie, 2019


             History:  This award, established in 1993, is named for Myra Bradwell (1831-1894), a lawyer and editor who fought for women's rights throughout her life.  When her application for admission to the Illinois State Bar was denied because she was a woman, she sought redress in the courts.  Although she lost her bid for admission in a landmark United States Supreme Court decision, Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1873), she was eventually admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1890.  She also was the founder of the Chicago Legal News, a weekly legal newspaper which became the most important legal publication in the western United States.  She worked for reforms in many areas of concern to women, such as giving married women the right to keep their own wages, protecting the rights of widows, and extending suffrage and full legal equality to women.

            Award Criteria:  To honor a law firm, corporate or government office, or other entity that has been exemplary in promoting and advancing women lawyers and issues important to women.


Los Angeles Office of Morrison & Foerster, 1993

Los Angeles Office of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, 1995

The Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California, 1996

Southwestern University School Of Law, 1997

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 1999

USC Law School, 2001

The Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, 2002

United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, 2003

California Women Lawyers, 2004

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, 2005

Warner Bros. Entertainment, 2006

Yahoo!, 2007

Deloitte LLP, 2008

Southern California Edison, 2009

Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, 2010

Amgen Inc., 2011

Raytheon Company, 2012

Occidental Petroleum Corporation, 2013

University of California Office of the General Counsel, 2014

Southern California Gas Company, 2015

Public Counsel, 2016

Patagonia, 2017

CBRE Legal Department, 2018

ACLU of Southern California, 2019



             History/Criteria:  The Courage Award honors an individual who has shown exceptional dedication and commitment in the fight to protect women's reproductive freedom.  The Courage Award was created in 1999 in response to increasing hostility toward women's reproductive rights and the challenges to keeping abortion safe, legal and accessible to women of all income levels.


Governor Gray Davis, 1999

Representative Loretta Sanchez, 2000

Dr. Leroy Carhart, 2001

Joyce Schorr, 2002

Senator Barbara Boxer, 2003

Dr. Sarah Weddington, 2004

Gloria Feldt, 2005

Janice MacAvoy and Janie Schulman, 2016