Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein partner Kelly Dermody was sworn in as the Bar Association of San Francisco's 99th president Thursday, vowing to continue BASF's efforts to support court funding while emphasizing diversity in the profession and legal services for the poor.
"California is regrettably part of a national trend of defunding state courts," Dermody told about 500 lawyers and judges at the Four Seasons Hotel. "I can assure you that right now people are standing in long clerk's lines around the state" seeking critical orders to block evictions or restrain perpetrators of domestic violence.
BASF formed three task forces last year to support San Francisco Superior Court as it faced laying off 175 employees and closing 25 courtrooms. The court eventually negotiated a $2.5 million loan from the Administrative Office of the Courts that saved 100 jobs and 14 courtrooms. It was "a viable short-term solution, but this work is not done," Dermody said.
BASF and the S.F. Minority Bar Coalition will hold a diversity summit in 2012, Dermody promised, and sponsor five service days modeled on the Martin Luther King Day of Service.
Outgoing BASF President Priya Sanger, who works at Wells Fargo & Co., joked that BASF is the only place "where a banker's lawyer and a plaintiffs lawyer could become good friends."
Sanger presented BASF awards of merit to four key members of the court funding task forces -- Stuart Gordon of Gordon & Rees; Chothilde Hewlett of Nossaman; Niall McCarthy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and Blanca Young of Munger, Tolles & Olson. Also honored were three lawyers who helped the bar consolidate the BASF Foundation with its Volunteer Legal Services Program -- Barry Abbott of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin; Robert Wexler of Adler & Colvin and Richard Zitrin of Carlson, Calladine & Peterson -- and McKesson Corp. attorney Theodore Borromeo for his help with diversity and in-house recruitment issues.
Kaelyn Romey of the Internal Revenue Service was named Barrister of the Year, and Jake Neuberg of Revolution Prep received the Community Partner Award.