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Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2012

{ JUDicial perspective: alUmni } cPatrice McElroy ’78 has lived in the bayearing Judgehourtcarbtatesalifornia Area nearly all her life. she went to high school patrice mcelroy ‘78 in belmont, attended uc berkeley, and gradu- ated from uc hastings. The daughter of a peace corps director, WEIGHING IN oN she grew up interested in civil rights and legal aid, and while at uc hastings, she interned ProFESSIoNAL rESPoNSIBILITY 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, flip- ping 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, Advice corner nearing the end of her second six-year term, WHAT ADvICE CAN YoU GIvE ATTorNEYS To HELP THEM she says she finds the court, which deals with STAY oUT oF TroUBLE? attorney misconduct and other state bar regulatory and disciplinary matters, to be First, lawyers need to understand the difference between thoroughly fascinating. true retainers, nonrefundable retainers, and an advance fee “i had no idea how hard it is to be a agreement. They should maintain adequate records and never judge,” says mcelroy. “but if i give myself commingle personal funds with client funds. They should some distance, i think my decisions get better not represent multiple clients in the same matter or accept because then i’m not dealing with the soap compensation from anyone other than the client. Finally, they opera of the court. with distance, i can look should never ignore a letter from the State Bar. clearly at the facts.” 26 FAll 2012


Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2012
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