California Western alumna Wendy L. Patrick ’94 has been named the California State Bar Association’s 2014 Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the year-a highly prestigious statewide honor.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye presented the award on Friday, September 12, at the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Diego.
“Wendy Patrick is a super woman,” said Cantil-Sakauye while introducing Patrick. “She’s a woman who embodies the best of professionalism and passion. She is a true public advocate whose legal work certainly reflects her dedication and passion for public service.”
As a San Diego County Deputy District Attorney, Patrick heads the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division, one of many important posts she has held during her 17 year career there, after serving for three years as a public defender.
“It is both an honor and a privilege to accept this award,” said Patrick as she thanked many people who have been her biggest supporters.
“Some people think that being a public lawyer is a thankless job: overextended, overworked, and underpaid. But having worked as both a public
defender and a district attorney over the last 20 years, I can tell you that in my view from both sides of the aisle, the satisfaction of changing
the lives of so many people is in a word, priceless.”
Patrick went on to speak of the great experience public lawyers gain in representing people from all walks of life.
“Public lawyers protect the rights of the accused, and pursue justice for those who have been wronged,” Patrick said. “We have the opportunity to make an enormous difference for people who would otherwise be without representation, and whose stories would never be heard. The aspect I treasure most about being a public lawyer is the opportunity to be a voice for those who otherwise would have no voice at all.”
Patrick feels that the legal education she received at California Western prepared her well for her remarkable career in public law.
"Wendy Patrick exemplifies the public service tradition at California Western,” said Niels B. Schaumann, president and dean of California Western. “She has dedicated her career to serving the public, and along the way she has also mentored and trained countless new lawyers, using the skills she developed by prosecuting many high-profile cases. She has used her California Western training to make our city a better place to live and for that, she is most worthy of being named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year."
“California Western is a phenomenal school with a top-notch faculty and I recommend it to everyone who is considering law school,” Patrick said. “It’s the best law school in San Diego and one of the best in the nation, as is its dean, my friend, Niels Schaumann.”
In addition to her work as a deputy district attorney, Patrick is an educator, an expert on legal ethics, and serves on several local state, regional, and statewide committees, including the Executive Committee of State Bar Criminal Law Section.
Patrick is also a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony and a rock and roll electric violinist.
No wonder California’s Supreme Court chief justice introduced her as the “spectacular Wendy Patrick.”
“We will always need and be grateful for public lawyers like Wendy who bring skills, commitment, and passion to the service of others,” said Justice Cantil-Sakauke.
California Western congratulates Wendy Patrick on this great honor.