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Lam named Attorney of the Year by bar association

Former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam has been named Outstanding Attorney of the Year by the San Diego County Bar Association.

SDCBA President Jill Burkhardt will honor Lam, along with 10 other service award winners, on May 4 at the bar’s annual law week luncheon at the bar center.

“The recipients of this year’s service awards have all made superlative contributions to our community,” Burkhardt said. “The innovation and energy they bring to their respective endeavors is truly inspirational.”

The 2007 Service Awards represent the 22nd year of SDCBA’s annual recognition of exceptional individuals, law firms, agencies and community-based organizations.

Lam, who was forced out of office in February, has received numerous awards for her performance in the legal community, including the attorney general’s award for distinguished service, the director’s award for superior performance and eight Department of Justice special achievement awards.

Rachel Cano, a prosecutor in the sex crimes and stalking division of the district attorney’s office, has been picked for the Community Service award. She is being honored for her commitment to San Diego through her dedication to the fight against cancer. She founded San Diego Professionals Against Cancer (SDPAC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and treatment services.

Elizabeth S. Balfour, a senior associate with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, will receive the Service to the Bar Association award. As co-chair of the SDCBA’s children at risk committee for the past three years, Balfour has worked with schools and coordinated literacy and enrichment programs that rely on volunteers from the legal community.

The Service to the Legal Profession honor will go to Dawnella Gilzean, a felony trial and appellate attorney with the San Diego County Department of the Public Defender. She serves on the SDCBA Ethics Committee and is a volunteer speaker with the San Diego City Schools Speaker’s Bureau.

The Service to Legal Education award will be given to Steven R. Smith, dean of California Western School of Law, where he has taught since 1996. He completed a year-long tenure as chair of the American Bar Association’s section on legal education and admissions to the bar in 2006. Smith has published widely in the areas of law and ethics in medicine and mental health services and recently published several journal articles on the role of the law school dean.

Deputy district attorney Dwayne K. Moring was selected for the Service by a Public Attorney award. He joined the district attorney’s office in 2004 as a prosecutor for the sex crimes and stalking division. He is currently the vice chair of the San Diego district attorney’s office pipeline diversity committee and secretary of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association board of directors.

The SDCBA has awarded the Distinguished Citizen award posthumously to Ernie Palacio, who was a legal administrator with Appellate Defenders Inc., for his contribution to developing the system of indigent appellate defense throughout the state of California. Palacio provided information, counsel and assistance in his service to ADI. He showed a high level of care in his work and for his wife and 15-year-old son, and unfortunately was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2005. To the end, he kept up his performance and positive attitude.

Kids’ Turn is being recognized with the Distinguished Organization award. For the past 10 years, the not-for-profit organization has provided a needed service to children and families who are separating into two households or divorcing. Kids’ Turn utilizes a six-week group program in which children participate and learn coping techniques and that they are not the cause of divorce.

The Diversity award will be presented to Rupa G. Singh, an associate with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, for her efforts in promoting and encouraging diversity in the legal profession. As a first-generation South Asian immigrant, she personally experienced the challenges of pursing a law degree as both a woman and a minority.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Lillian Y. Lim will be awarded the Outstanding Jurist honor. Judge Lim is an avid diversity advocate, and for years has worked tirelessly to promote minority law students and young lawyers in and around San Diego. She is the first Filipino-American woman judge appointed to the bench in the United States.

Rosner & Mansfield LLP has been selected for the Public Service by a Law Firm or Agency award. The firm, which has spend more then 20 years litigating auto fraud and lemon cases, has made headlines with precedent-setting cases and led sweeping class action suits.


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