The Benefit for Justice is an annual event that brings together the legal community and Santa Clara Law for a night of socializing and fundraising to support the public interest and social justice summer work of law students.
Doors Open at 5:00 p.m.
Hors d’oeuvres, Silent/Live Auction, Music, and more
Hosted by the Public Interest and Social Justice Law Board
2013 Social Justice Service Award Honorees:
Ramón Arias, Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid
Dale Minami, Partner with Minami and Tamaki, San Francisco
The Social Justice Service Awards recognize law students and attorneys who have significantly contributed to the social justice and public interest community through work or volunteer efforts.
2013 Award Winners
Ramón Arias is Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid and a leader in the national civil justice community.
He began his legal aid career in 1978 with California Rural Legal Assistance. During his ten years with CRLA, Ramón served as a staff attorney, managing attorney, Director of CRLA’s Migrant Farm Worker Project, and as a regional counsel. In 1988, Ramón became the Executive Director of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, a position he held for the next 12 years.
In 2000, Ramón became the Executive Director of Bay Area Legal Aid, an organization he helped to create by merger of four legal aid programs. Bay Area Legal Aid is the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest law firm for the poor and is nationally recognized for its innovation, effectiveness, and quality.
Named one of the top 100 attorneys in California twice by the Daily Journal, Ramón has served as Chair of the Board of the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association, member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants, a member of the ABA Committee on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness, and Chair of the Board of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.
Ramón was recently appointed by the President of the Legal Services Corporation to an LSC Advisory Group committed to exploring ways legal aid providers can better demonstrate the effectiveness of the legal assistance they provide.
Consistent with his national leadership on the need to cultivate a new generation of public interest lawyers, Ramón currently serves on the Board of Equal Justice Works, which operates the largest fellowship program in the United States.
Dale Minami is a partner with Minami and Tamaki in San Francisco. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California in 1968 and received his J.D. in 1971 from the University of California at Berkeley.
Mr. Minami has been recognized as one of the top personal injury lawyers in the Bay Area. He was selected by Law & Politics Magazine as one of the Super Lawyers for each year from 2004 through 2013 in the Personal Injury category, one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers for Northern California in 2005 and 2007 through 2013, on of the Top Ten Superlawyers in 2013, one of the 500 hundred Best Lawyers in America by Lawdragon Magazine in 2005 and one of the top 3% attorneys in the nation by The Legal News. He has received an “AV” rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating for competence and ethics issued by that publication, and reserved for attorneys designated as outstanding in their field.
Mr. Minami has also been involved in litigation involving the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans, including Korematsu v. United States, United Pilipinos for Affirmative Action v. California Blue Shield (class action employment discrimination lawsuit), Spokane JACL v. Washington State University, (class action to establish an Asian American Studies program) and Nakanishi v. UCLA (challenge to unfair tenure denial.
He also co-founded the Asian Law Caucus, Inc., the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area and the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Minami has served on State and Federal judicial screening committees and has taught at U.C. Berkeley and Mills College. He was the Co-Executive Producer of a feature film, “Life Tastes Good” which screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
In recognition of his achievements, Mr. Minami has received the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall and Spirit of Excellence Awards, NAPABA’ Trailblazer Award, the ACLU Civil Liberties Award, an honorary Juris Doctor degree from the USF and McGeorge Schools of Law, designation of a dormitory at the U.C. Santa Cruz as the Queen Liliuokalani-Minami Dormitory, Employment Law Center Matthew Tobriner Award, naming of a public interest fellowship in his name at and the Citation Award at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, among others awards.
2012 Award Winners
Stephen P. Berzon
Altshuler Berzon LLP
Stephen P. Berzon is a founding partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP where he specializes in major litigation, frequently involving labor and employment, environment and public health, campaign and election, and constitutional issues, both at the trial and appellate levels. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Alvin B. Rubin of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He was formerly the Legal Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, a public interest organization in Washington, D.C. He also practiced with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, and the National Housing and Economic Development Law Project of the University of California, Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall). He is currently a member of the Ninth Circuit’s Advisory Committee on Rules and Internal Operating Procedures. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He served for seven years (January, 2005 – December, 2011) as a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society, and for nine years (2000-2009) as a member of the Board of Directors of the national AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee. He also served as Chair of the City of Berkeley Police Review Commission, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Urban Strategies Council. He received the Voting Rights Award from the ACLU of Southern California in 2002 for his work on voting rights litigation. In 2009, he was named a California Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine in the area of Civil Rights. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for labor and employment law, and in San Francisco Magazine’s Northern California Super Lawyers in the appellate practice area. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and federal circuit and district courts throughout the country. He has testified before U.S. Senate and House Committees, and California Senate and Assembly Committees. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
David W. Epps
Santa Clara County Alternate Defender Office
David Epps is the Supervising Attorney of the Santa Clara County Alternate Defender Office. When appointed to the position in 2005, he was the first African American to assume an executive management position in any of the County’s law offices. He supervises an office of 21 attorneys and a support staff of investigators, paralegals, and clerical positions that provides legal services to indigent criminal defendants in Santa Clara County.
Mr. Epps received his B.A. degree from the University of Michigan. He is a 1992 graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law. He is a past president of the Santa Clara County Black Lawyers Association and has served on the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees of the Santa Clara County Bar Association.
Law Student Social Justice Service Awards
Jessica C. Chan ’13
Jessica Chan has dedicated her professional, academic, and personal life to public interest and social justice. During law school she has interned at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, working on immigration issues; Amnesty International Australia in the Refugee Team; the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in Berkeley, CA, filing affirmative asylum applications for indigent clients including primarily LGBT, forced FGM, women’s rights and political opinion cases, and represented 20 clients before USCIS in San Francisco. Currently, Ms. Chan is part of the new Santa Clara Law International Human Rights Clinic, Technical Editor for the Journal of International Law, and Co-President of the law school’s chapter of Amnesty International. She is also helping found a non-profit focused on development in African urban communities. Next semester, she will continue to pursue her passion for refugee rights at the UNHCR in Geneva, Switzerland.
Isabella Shin ’13
Isabella Shin has dedicated her academic and professional efforts to promoting diversity and social justice. Prior to law school, she worked with at-risk youth through CHALK, Inc., a non-profit youth development organization in San Francisco. She also served two terms as an AmeriCorps volunteer, working with youth organizations in underprivileged communities. During law school, Ms. Shin interned at a women’s safe house in Australia, working with victims of human trafficking and domestic violence and was a Policy Research Fellow at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Currently, Ms. Shin is a student case worker at the Northern California Innocence Project, technical editor for the Santa Clara Law Review, Co-President of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and an intern for Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, helping coordinate the District Office’s anti-human trafficking efforts with the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Spring semester Ms. Shin will intern at the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office.
2011 Award Winners
Kazan, McClain, Lyons,
Greenwood & Harley, PLC
After 18 years as a principal at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley, PLC, in 2009, Ms. Abrams decided to devote the majority of her time to pro bono practice while remaining involved in asbestos litigation on the firm’s behalf. With the firm’s generous support she continues to provide assistance for the asbestos practice, but now focuses on representing a wide array of clients whose cases might not otherwise be brought. These include the family of an elderly woman strangled to death by the lanyard of her Lifeline personal help button, a 60 year old victim of domestic violence currently serving an indeterminate sentence in prison for the death of her husband, a class of women workers subjected to sexual harassment at a gaming casino, and other cases. Ms. Abrams also continues to mentor attorneys at the firm.
Prior to going to law school Ms. Abrams taught sociology and women’s studies at the University of Maryland and Antioch College in Ohio. Ms. Abrams has a keen interest in occupational health and safety issues, and has been an officer and member of the Board of Worksafe. She also serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of the East Bay Community Law Center, and on the Board of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.
Ms. Abrams is a member of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Association for Justice, Consumers Attorneys of California, the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association, and the Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association.
Ms. Abrams received a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California (1986); a M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Maryland (1975 and 1983 respectively); and a B.A from the University of Rhode Island (1972).
Cherri N. Allison ’83
Alameda County Family Justice Center
In April 2011, Ms. Allison took the reins of the Alameda County Family Justice Center (ACFJC) as the Center’s new Executive Director/Legal Advisor. The ACFJC is a new community initiative launched by more than 50 organizations and 150 people who have joined together to provide comprehensive services required by domestic violence victims and their families.
Ms. Allison is one of the founders of the Alameda County Family Justice Center, and was formerly the Executive Director of the Family Violence Law Center (FVLC), an organization that provides civil legal and advocate services to Alameda County victims of domestic violence. Prior to her tenure at FVLC, Ms. Allison was the Director of Programs at the Alameda County Bar Association. In addition to Ms. Allison’s expertise in nonprofit management, she has experience in board development, program development, grant writing, and investments.
Ms. Allison is a statewide and nationally recognized leader in the field of domestic violence. Her expertise includes legal services to victims of domestic and interpersonal violence, including elder abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault.
In addition to being a member of several national, statewide and local Organizations, Ms. Allison serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, the California Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, the California Women Lawyers–Board of Governors, the Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color and the State Bar of California–Ethnic Minorities Relations Committee. Ms. Allison is also a published legal writer on issues involving domestic violence and interpersonal violence.
In 2009, Ms. Allison was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in the Justice category. Ms. Allison is a recent graduate Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute – Women’s Foundation of California, and is a LeaderSpring Fellow.
Ms. Allison earned her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, after receiving her B.A. in Mass Communication from UC Berkeley.
Partner, Alexander Hawes, LLP
Ms. Hawes is a pioneer in toxic chemical litigation, with expertise on the medical effects of toxic chemical exposure, including in utero exposures. She has over 30 years of experience representing people exposed to toxic chemicals that have caused birth defects, cancer and other chronic diseases. She is a tireless advocate for health-protective exposure standards for workers exposed to toxics. Ms. Hawes has taught environmental justice and toxic tort courses at Golden Gate University School of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law and the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Ms. Hawes has served on several non-profit boards over the years. She is currently on the Executive Board of WORKSAFE, the Advisory Board and Board of Directors of the Impact Fund, and is the Education and Outreach Co-Chair of CHANGE (Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy).
Ms. Hawes received a J.D. from Harvard Law School (1968); a B.A. from Wellesley College (1965) and is a Phi Beta Kappa, Durant Scholar.
Martin Kopp ’12
Martin Kopp has been involved in a variety of events and programs that embody the spirit of social justice that Santa Clara University School of Law endorses. Through his work with the Santa Clara County Family Self-Help Center, Martin advised and helped with dissolutions of marriage, property rights, custody rights restraining orders for domestic violence victims, and visitation schedules. He continued to help while working with research attorneys for the Family Court judges. Overall, he worked over 200 hours in contributing to those without the funds to seek attorneys. He continued his work through volunteering to help low-income taxpayers through Tax-Aid in San Jose in 2010 and 2011. Training at Deloitte, he helped with the intake of clients to the clinic. He plans to be in the inaugural class of students to help with this specific area of tax controversy.
2010 Award Winners
Edison A. Jensen ’89 is a civil litigator with a particular interest in healthcare law as it affects the Latino/Farm worker population. He recently resigned as Chairman of the Board of Salud Para la Gente, Inc. (www.splg.org) a federally qualified health center after serving in that capacity for 14 years. In addition, he was recently appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dominican Hospital (Catholic Healthcare West) (www.dominicanhospital.org). Mr. Jensen was the founding Chairman of the Pajaro Valley Health Trust which is a conversion foundation serving the needs of the poor in the Pajaro Valley. Mr. Jensen is the recipient of numerous awards for his pro bono work with the farm worker community. While a student at Santa Clara Law he served as President of La Raza Law Students Association. He is currently President of La Raza Lawyers of Santa Cruz County.
Patricia Massey ’03 is a passionate advocate for the civil rights of children with disabilities. She is a Senior Attorney at Legal Advocates for Children & Youth, a program of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, where she represents parents and students in matters of educational law including special education and discipline. Ms. Massey has been involved in the design and implementation of Project YEA!, a model program of educational representation for students in the juvenile justice and dependency systems in Santa Clara County, since its inception. She taught Children and the Law at Santa Clara Law and was the Teaching Fellow for the Center for Social Justice and Public Service in 2003.
2009 Award Winners
River Abeje ’92
East Bay Community Law Center
River Abeje received a J.D. from Santa Clara Law and was one of the first recipients of the Public Interest and Social Justice Law Certificate. She became a supervising attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center in the Clean Slate practice in 2007. Previously, she served as the Policy Specialist for the Office of Citizen Complaints advancing accountability of the San Francisco police department. As staff attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, she was involved in litigation challenging medical conditions at the largest women’s prisons in California and published several articles on legal and social issues for caregivers of children whose parents are incarcerated and substance dependent. She is an avid bicyclist and has cycled from San Francisco to Los Angeles in one week to raise funds to benefit the SF AIDS Foundation and a multi time veteran of the Cinderella Classic which raises funds for girls’ and women’s organizations. Last year she got to fulfill a long desire to be a rock star and played electric bass in the band “Reluctant Witness.” She is also the mom of a very cool girl. Ms. Abeje is about to hike up Mt. Tamalpais with her team “Treasure Chest” to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Fund’s work to eliminate the environmental causes of the disease.
Haydée Alfonso ’93
Bay Area Legal Aid
Haydée Alfonso, Managing Attorney of Bay Area Legal Aid’s Legal Advice Line, has been dedicated to serving the low income and disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area for over 15 years. She earned a joint JD/MBA from Santa Clara Law and the School of Business in 1993. After law school she joined Gordon & Rees, where she worked as a business attorney. Three years later she joined the Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) of the Bar Association of San Francisco. At VLSP, she developed and managed one of the nation’s first business law projects serving community-based organizations with their legal needs.
In 2008, Ms. Alfonso joined Bay Area Legal Aid, the largest provider of free civil legal services, and the only provider that serves the entire Bay Area region. She now manages the region’s only free civil legal advice hotline serving low-income families. An advanced combination of telephony and a team of seven poverty law attorneys and advocates provide legal advice and referrals to over 16,000 callers annually.
J. Dominic Campodonico ’96
Gordon & Rees, LLP
J. Dominic Campodonico received a J.D. and a Public Interest Law Certificate from Santa Clara Law in 1996. While in law school he was active in the Public Interest Coalition, Street Law, disability rights, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, and other efforts to give back to the community. Mr. Campodonico was a research attorney for three Los Angeles Superior Court judges and has worked as an associate, and is now a partner at Gordon & Rees, LLP in San Francisco. His practice focuses on product liability defense, commercial litigation, and False Claims Act cases.
Mr. Campodonico has been active in the firm’s Community Service Committee and is a current member of its Diversity Committee and the chair of the Pro Bono Committee for the San Francisco office. In his efforts to give back to the community, he has represented numerous clients in pro bono matters. He is an active member of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Program. Currently he is the president of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefits District and has been a member of its board of directors.
Lea Francisco ’10
Lea Francisco dedicates her professional, academic, and volunteer life to public interest and social justice work. During her first year at Santa Clara Law, until February of this year, she served as the Board Co-Chair of the Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES). During the summer following her first year, she interned at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, working on community economic development and workers’ rights. During the fall of her 2L year, she interned at Bay Area Legal Aid, working in the housing and family law programs. This past summer, she interned at Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment, working on environmental justice issues. She serves as an Articles Editor for the Asian American Law Journal, and she is also active on campus with several student groups, particularly with the Pilipino American Law Society, which she co-founded last year.