November 3, 2000
San Francisco The California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) has presented its "Jack Berman Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession and the Public" this year to Los Angeles civil rights attorney Thomas Saenz.
Saenz, a regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), played a key role in blocking the implementation of California's Proposition 187. He also assisted in the filing of a recent lawsuit challenging the lack of school construction in overcrowded minority districts in urban Los Angeles.
"With senior litigation staff as innovative, youthful and intelligent as Thomas Saenz, MALDEF has been able to expand its work in major civil rights cases," Antonio Hernandez, MALDEF's president and general counsel, said in nominating Saenz for the award. "The effects of this work have been unprecedently far-reaching."
Founded in 1968, MALDEF exists to advance the civil rights of Latinos and to contribute toward a better society through community education, legal action an the awarding of scholarships. As MALDEF's regional counsel, Saenz manages and supervises the Los Angeles Legal office serving Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. His work with MALDEF includes overseeing and conducting civil rights litigation, appeals and public policy analysis in the areas of education, employment, immigrants' rights and political access.
"Thousands of Californians are both directly and indirectly affected by this work," Her-nandez wrote in support of Saenz' nomination.
Saenz received this year's Jack Berman Award September 15 at a Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) reception held during the State Bar's Annual Meeting in San Diego.
The CYLA presents the award each year to recognize a young lawyer for his or her outstanding service to the profession and the public, and for dedication to issues of concern to the profession.
Established in 1992, the CYLA award was renamed the Jack Berman Award in 1993 in memory of the pro bono attorney who was a victim in a mass killing at the 101 California Street building in San Francisco.