California Bar Journal
CBJ - October 2008 #03.
Rothschild wins top bar award
California Bar Journal October 2008 Rothschild wins top bar awardBy Diane CurtisStaff WriterRichard Rothschild, known as the dean of public interest law in California for his 32 years battling for the rights of the poor, is the 2008 recipient of the State Bar's Loren Miller Legal Services Award.
"I'm very honored and humbled," said Rothschild, 59, who is director of litigation at the Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP) in Los Angeles. "A lot of people I hold in very high regard have received this award and there are probably an equal number of people I hold in high regard who should have got it and have not."
"The Loren Miller Award is the highest award that this association can bestow on any lawyer for his or her service to the public," said immediate past State Bar President Jeff Bleich. "The recipients read like a Hall of Fame of champions of justice, and that is precisely where Dick Rothschild's name belongs."
After Yale University and the University of Southern California Law Center, Rothschild clerked for state Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk for a year before heading to WCLP-and staying there. He started as a staff attorney and became director of litigation in 1984.
It's the intellectual challenge and consistency with his own values that have kept the job interesting for Rothschild for more than three decades, although he says cases have become more difficult and government defendants more sophisticated. "I've known a fair number of people who left private practice to go to public interest practice, and I don't know anybody who's ever regretted that. For me, it's an ideal job."
WCLP, created in 1967, is the state's oldest and largest legal services support center. It works to enforce and advance the rights of low-income Californians through education, negotiation and litigation primarily in the areas of housing, health care and public assistance.
Rothschild, says WCLP Executive Director Syd Whalley, "has been involved in one way or another-and most often as lead or co-counsel-in most of the landmark litigation advancing and enforcing the rights of low-income Californians over the past three decades."
Just a few of those cases include:
Alford v. County of San Diego, in which the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that...