Monday, September 24, 2012

          Patrice McElroy ’78: Weighing in on Professional Responsibility

          California State Bar Court Hearing Judge Patrice McElroy ’78 has lived in the Bay Area nearly all her life. She went to high school in Belmont, attended UC Berkeley, and graduated from UC Hastings.

          The daughter of a Peace Corps director, she grew up interested in civil rights and legal aid, and while at UC Hastings, she interned at the Employment Law Center and the State Public Defender’s Office. After she graduated, a friend from law school told her that the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office was hiring. She got a job there and found her calling working in the juvenile courts.

          “At the Public Defender’s Office, nobody wanted to go to the juvenile courts. I was like, ‘Oh no, I have to defend parents who do awful things to their kids.’ But once I got working with the dependency system and seeing how it all begins with childhood, I knew I wanted to make a difference there.”

          While at the office, she second-chaired a death penalty case, and the research she did for the penalty phase of her client’s trial taught her firsthand how childhood experiences impact behavior.

          She went on to private practice and then, through another UC Hastings friend, learned about a job at the National Center for Youth Law. While working there, she was involved in a number of high-profile cases, including a class action lawsuit that resulted in the reform of Utah’s child welfare system.

          McElroy admits that she eventually burned out practicing juvenile dependency and juvenile delinquency law. One day, flipping through The Recorder, she saw that the California State Bar Court had an opening for a hearing judge.

          “I asked a friend, and she said, ‘I think you’d be bored,’” McElroy recalls. Now, nearing the end of her second six-year term, she says she finds the court, which deals with attorney misconduct and other State Bar regulatory and disciplinary matters, to be thoroughly fascinating.

          “I had no idea how hard it is to be a judge,” says McElroy. “But if I give myself some distance, I think my decisions get better because then I’m not dealing with the soap opera of the court. With distance, I can look clearly at the facts.”

          [ADVICE CORNER]

          What advice can you give attorneys to help them stay out of trouble?

          First, lawyers need to understand the difference between true retainers, nonrefundable retainers, and an advance fee agreement. They should maintain adequate records and never commingle personal funds with client funds. They should not represent multiple clients in the same matter or accept compensation from anyone other than the client. Finally, they should never ignore a letter from the State Bar.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Wednesday, February 22, 2017

          ‘Always look for the helpers’: Meet 1L Michelle Human, AKA Miss Honey, Professional Faerie

          This little girl looked at me and she said, you're a flower fairy right? I said yes, I'm a flower fairy. She said, okay I have a wish, I wish that the garden in front of my house in Syria, I wish that the flowers could grow there again because right now there's fire and the ground is ash. I wish that we lived in a world where there's no bombs or bullets or fires, and that the earth was reminded how to grow flowers again.
          Tuesday, February 07, 2017

          Civil Rights Lawyer Zahra Billoo ’09 Is Fighting President Trump’s “Travel Ban”

          As leader of a Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter, she is standing up for the rights of Muslim Americans in court and in the media.
          Monday, February 06, 2017

          Hadar Aviram assumes the presidency of the Western Society of Criminology

          Congratulations to UC Hastings Professor Hadar Aviram, who is set to begin her term as the president of the Western Society of Criminology.
          Wednesday, February 01, 2017

          Statement from Dean Faigman: Deans Letter to California Supreme Court re California Bar Exam

          Today a group of 20 deans of ABA-accredited California law schools submitted a letter to the California Supreme Court, calling upon it to “exercise its legal jurisdiction over the California State Bar to adjust its scoring methods to bring them in line with the nation’s at large.”
          Wednesday, February 01, 2017

          Thinkers & Doers: January 2017

          THE RESISTANCE -- Haiku for Law Students -- Judge Gorsuch’s jurisprudence -- A Populist Crusade Against Corporate Greed -- THE MOST READ HBR ARTICLE OF ALL TIME -- Mom bias at work -- Will Trump’s refugee "ban" survive? -- Alumni recording artists -- and much more
          Go to News Archive