Meyers Nave’s promotion of diversity reflects the values of our clients, our society and our firm. We support diversity throughout our offices, in the legal profession, and in our communities. The individuality of our attorneys and staff — and their collective experiences, perspectives and backgrounds — helps us provide clients with the most effective and creative legal services. Our approach focuses on the three pillars of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which are fundamental principles woven into the fabric of our firm: they drive the success, innovation and professional leadership of Meyers Nave. Please click here for a video message about diversity from Amrit Kulkarni, a Principal at Meyers Nave, member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Land Use, Environmental and Transportation and Infrastructure Practice groups. Diversity was the theme of our firm’s 2017 holiday e-card, which can be viewed here.
Meyers Nave proudly sponsors a broad range of activities with diverse bar associations, law student organizations, alumni associations, youth groups, and clients — wherever we can make an impact. Our attorneys are involved in many diversity oriented organizations, including California Women Lawyers, Sacramento Lawyers for the Equality of Gays and Lesbians, Charles Houston Bar Association, California Minority Counsel Program, Filipino Bar Association of Northern California, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, Lawyers Club of San Diego, Asian American Bar Association, LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association of Southern California, and the Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, among many others.
Our attorneys’ involvement includes serving in leadership roles, such as Principal Eric Casher serving as President of the Charles Houston Bar Association, Associate Annie Smiddy serving on the Leadership Conference committee of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, Principal Richard Pio Roda serving as the Meyers Nave liaison to the League of California Cities’ Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus, and Principal Camille Hamilton Pating collaborating with the California Minority Counsel Program to create a seminar on the topic of “Strategies for Handling High Profile Litigation.” Our Oakland office also serves as the quarterly meeting location for the Northern California Chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources.
Meyers Nave’s substantial financial support of organizations that promote diversity in the legal profession is exceptionally greater than law firms that are much larger than Meyers Nave. For example, in 2017 and to date in 2018, Meyers Nave’s substantial financial sponsorships include (1) Bronze Sponsor of the California Minority Counsel Program’s Business Conference, (2) Silver Sponsor of the California Women Lawyers’ Dinner and Silent Auction, (3) Bar Circle sponsor of the Charles Houston Bar Association Annual Gala Dinner, (4) Gold Sponsor of the Daily Journal’s Women Leadership in Law Forums in Northern and Southern California, (5) Gold Sponsor of the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles’ Annual Gala, (6) Pioneer Sponsor of the California Bar Foundation’s Diversity Awards & Scholarship Reception, (7) Leadership Sponsor of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce Annual Economic Awards Dinner, (8) co-sponsor of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s African American Partners and Associates Summer Reception and (9) Scholarship Sponsor of the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association’s Annual Noche de Gala which benefits the Bay Area Latino Lawyers Fund’s student scholarship program, among many others.
Diversity Fellowship Program
Meyers Nave announced its new Diversity Fellowship Program in the firm’s 2016 holiday e-card, which received Honorable Mention in a national contest and was recognized for demonstrating “the firm’s commitment to diversity.” Our Diversity Fellowship Program is designed to promote diversity throughout the legal profession by helping to build a pipeline of diverse attorneys at the law school level. The Diversity Fellowship Program includes (1) a paid, full-time, 10-week Fellow position at Meyers Nave during the summer after the first year of law school with possible extension to second year summer, (2) annual tuition assistance of $5,000 following each summer completed with Meyers Nave, (3) mentoring during law school from Meyers Nave attorneys focusing on academic work and the practice and business of law, and (4) a potential Associate position at Meyers Nave after law school. Please click here for more information about the program, including application, comments from our inaugural Fellow about her experience at Meyers Nave and pictures from 2018 program highlights such as meeting the Oakland Mayor and City Councilmembers.
Meyers Nave Principal Eric S. Casher currently serves as President of the Charles Houston Bar Association. CHBA is an affiliate of the National Bar Association and represents the interests of African-American lawyers, judges and law students throughout Northern California. Eric’s many years of service to CHBA include serving in numerous positions on the Board of Directors, including General Counsel (2013), Vice President (2014, 2016, 2017), and Special Assistant to the President (2015). In 2015, Meyers Nave received the Corporate Recognition Award from the Charles Houston Bar Association. The award is presented to an organization that demonstrates a commitment to strengthening diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and in our communities. In addition to financial participation that has included a CHBA scholarship, Meyers Nave helps advance CHBA’s mission through a broad range of activities, such as hosting a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major For Justice Advocacy Competition, hosting a Judicial Panel on behalf of CHBA, sponsoring the President’s Reception at the National Bar Association Conference, and hosting an alumni panel for the UC Hastings College of the Law Black Law Students Association and Hastings Alumni Association.
Diversity on the Bench: Three Meyers Nave Judicial Appointments
Under SB 56 and SB 182 the California Governor is required to report statewide demographic data provided by judicial applicants. The February 28, 2017 report notes that Governor Brown made 356 appointments to the bench since 2011 and nearly 40% of appointees self-identified as a member of a minority group. Of the 45 judicial appointments in 2016, 17 were nonwhite, 17 were women, and four were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Firsts during the 2011-2016 period include the first South Asian American woman judge appointed in California, first American-Muslim judge appointed in California, first Hmong American judge appointed in the country, first Native American judge and Latina judge appointed to the Riverside County Superior Court, first openly gay judge appointed to the Imperial County Superior Court, first Latino judge appointed to the Yolo County Superior Court, first woman judges appointed to the Sierra County Superior Court and Del Norte County Superior Court, first Latino justices appointed to the Fifth and Sixth District Courts of Appeal, first Asian-American judge appointed to the Ventura County Superior Court, and first openly gay justice appointed to the California Court of Appeal.
Three Meyers Nave Principals Appointed to Judgeships
- Benjamin T. Reyes II: In 2017, Governor Brown appointed Meyers Nave Principal Benjamin T. Reyes II as the first Filipino-American judge appointed to the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Judge Reyes also is only the second Filipino-American judge appointed to serve in the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties in 36 years. Please click here to read the Governor’s press release.
- Kimberly E. Colwell: In 2013, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Appointed Meyers Nave Principal Kim Colwell to the Alameda County Superior Court. Please click here to read the Governor’s press release.
- David S. Cunningham: In 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Meyers Nave Principal David S. Cunningham III to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Please click here to read the Governor’s press release.
Women’s Initiative: Meet Our Women Leaders
Women lead eight statewide practice groups at Meyers Nave. Please click here to meet our women leaders, learn about their areas of expertise, and read a favorite quote from the women leaders who inspire them. In 2017 and 2018, Meyers Nave served as a Gold level sponsor of the Daily Journal’s inaugural and annual Women Leadership in Law forums held in Northern and Southern California. We provided all attendees with the Meet Our Women Leaders flyer and a copy of “She Said What?”, a book of leadership quotes by women leaders. Meyers Nave continues to increase the number of women attorneys throughout our firm. In 2017 and 2018, 12 women attorneys joined Meyers Nave:
- Naree Chan, Associate, Municipal and Special District Law (Oakland)
- Yuki Cruse, Associate, Labor and Employment Law (Oakland)
- Elena Gekker, Associate, Land Use and Environmental Law (Oakland)
- Viviana Heger, Of Counsel, Land Use and Environmental Law (Los Angeles)
- Nancy Harris, Principal, Commercial Litigation (Oakland)
- Claire S. Lai, Associate, Municipal and Special District Law (Oakland)
- Laura McKinney, Of Counsel, Municipal and Special District Law (Oakland)
- Ellyn Moscowitz, Senior Of Counsel, Labor and Employment Law (Santa Rosa, Oakland)
- Eva Plaza, Of Counsel, Trial and Litigation (Los Angeles)
- Anne (Annie) Smiddy, Associate, Eminent Domain & Inverse Condemntation (San Diego)
- Tivonna Stern, Senior Associate, Municipal & Special District Law (Sacramento)
- Vidya Venugopal, Associate, Land Use and Environmental Law (Los Angeles)
Interview Profiles: Meyers Nave women attorneys have been featured in a broad range of publications that cover the legal profession throughout California. For example, Northern California 2017 Super Lawyers magazine features a two-page interview profile with Shaye Dively about her involvement in two published appellate court victories that were critical in winning the battle to build the new $477 million downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings. Northern California 2018 Super Lawyers magazine also featured an interview profile with Ruthann G. Ziegler about advising California cities on implementing Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Recent Speaking Engagements: The women who help lead Meyers Nave share their insight and experience at conferences that focus on professional development and career advancement in the legal professional. Recent examples are Meyers Nave Principal Brenda Aguilar-Guerrero who spoke about “Pathways to Partnership” at the California Women Lawyers Annual Conference and Principal Deborah Fox who spoke about “Women in the Courtroom” at the Daily Journal’s Women Leadership in Law conference.