2006 Public Lawyer of the Year: Clara Slifkin
The award was presented by Chief Justice Ronald George during the State Bar of California 2006 Annual Meeting in Monterey. The Public Lawyer of the Year Award presentation and reception was held on Friday, October 6, 2006 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. in the Portola Room of the Portola Plaza Hotel.
Biographical statement of Clara Slifkin
Clara Slifkin has devoted her entire legal career to serving the public interest. Until her recent appointment as Administrative Law Judge, she served 17 years as Deputy Attorney General in the Land Law and Business and Tax Sections of the California Department of Justice. There, she litigated public policy matters and advised state agencies such as the California Coastal Commission, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, State Board of Equalization, Department of Real Estate, and Department of Insurance. She argued before the California Supreme Court and won a victory in Beatrice Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1993) 6 Cal.4th 767 [the assumption by the subsidiary of a parent corporation's liabilities constituted consideration for the transferred property which subjected the transaction to taxation.] Clara also played a leading role in the Attorney General's $73 million settlement with Montrose Chemical Corporation to clean up DDT and PCBs on the Palos Verdes shelf.
Prior to her career as a prosecutor, Clara served 12 years as Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County, where she represented indigent criminal defendants. She also served for two years as Legislative Analyst for the Los Angeles City Council, where she drafted and analyzed municipal legislation affecting every facet of urban life.
Aside from the practice of public law, Clara has been a leader in improving the legal profession at The State Bar of California. The first government attorney elected to its Board of Governors from District 7 (Los Angeles), Clara brought recognition to and gave government/public lawyers a voice in the operation of the State Bar. She was Vice President and member of the State Bar's Board of Governors at a time when the unified Bar was restructured. Former State Bar President Jim Towery appointed Clara as Chair of the Task Force on Government Lawyers. Former Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas appointed her to the Judicial Council's Advisory Committee on Judicial Performance and Procedures and the Committee to Save the Unified Bar. In addition, Clara was former Chair of the Public Law Section, Council of Sections, Future Planning Committee, and was Vice Chair of the Commission on Corrections. In all these capacities, she brought the unique perspective of the public lawyer in shaping a Bar that is more accountable to the public trust and better serves the members of our profession.
Ever committed to public service, Clara currently serves as Vice President and Scholarship Committee Chair of the Board of the Foundation of the State Bar, which distributes scholarships to law students and grants to nonprofit organizations, courts, and bar associations for law-related projects. She is also Board Secretary of the Center for Civic Education, which promotes civic education in the schools, encourages students' commitment to fundamental values and principles of constitutional democracy, including individual rights, the common good and the rule of law.
Clara was further active in the American Bar Association's Public Lawyer Section, where she planned programs for government attorneys.
Accordingly, Clara is the very model of an outstanding public lawyer, who has well served the citizens of California and the members of our profession.