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

          Friday, April 20, 2018

          UC Hastings Demonstration Gardens Continues Its Legacy at McCoppin Hub and Throughout the Community

          As the Demonstration Gardens makes room for a new LEED Platinum academic building at 333 Golden Gate Avenue, it remains a part of the UC Hastings community and fortifies the tradition of sustainability for the Long Range Campus Plan.
          Friday, April 20, 2018

          UC Hastings Trial Team Wins National Championship

          3Ls Pablo Wudka-Robles, Maryam Ahmad, Jon Davidi, and 2L Ellie Barczak outperformed the other regional winners to emerge victorious at the AAJ National Student Trial Advocacy Competition in Raleigh, North Carolina.
          Thursday, April 19, 2018

          Matt Edling '07 Is Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change

          A groundbreaking ruling in the lawsuits he filed on behalf of California cities and counties may allow climate liability cases to be heard in state courts.
          Thursday, April 19, 2018

          Shadowy World of Drug Pricing—An Inside Look

          New research by University of California Hastings Law Professor Robin Feldman shines light on the highly secretive world of drug prices, including hidden payments, rebates, and inducements that drive the system toward higher-priced drugs.
          Monday, April 16, 2018

          UC Hastings Students Debrief after Spring Break Visit to Immigration Detention Center

          Students share their experience volunteering with the Karnes Pro Bono Project to help provide free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant women and children at the Karnes County Residential Center near San Antonio, Texas.
          Go to News Archive