Manatt's Cristin Zeisler Receives Esteemed Pursuit of Justice Award from California Women's Law Center
Pro Bono Director Honored for Her Enduring Commitment to Underserved Women and Girls
LOS ANGELES, May 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Cristin Zeisler, a partner and Director of Pro Bono Services at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, has been named a recipient of the 2012 California Women's Law Center (CWLC) Abby J. Leibman Pursuit of Justice Award. Zeisler was selected for the prestigious award in recognition of her longstanding commitment to ensuring that women, girls and all underserved communities have access to legal services.
"Cristin is not one to shy away from a challenge and those in need could ask for no better champion," said William T. Quicksilver, Manatt's Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner. "Her extraordinary dedication, creative vision and motivating leadership have allowed Manatt to build one of the premier pro bono programs in the nation, making a positive difference in the lives of untold thousands in need. Cristin's tireless pursuit of legal justice for the women and girls of California, and indeed across the nation, is impactful and inspirational, and we congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition."
Under Zeisler's leadership, Manatt has established a reputation as a leader in pro bono innovation, developing groundbreaking programs and securing meaningful change on behalf of its clients. The firm's award-winning pro bono program is an integral part of each lawyer's practice and Zeisler coordinates and drives hundreds of projects annually.
"The work Cristin does to advance and promote pro bono work is invaluable to the public interest community, and facilitates access to justice for those who ordinarily may not have a voice," said Katie Buckland, Executive Director of the CWLC. "The Abby J. Leibman Pursuit of Justice Award is given annually to professionals who have dedicated their careers to pursuing justice, which Cristin has done continually by creating and growing Manatt's involvement in pro bono and other charitable and community outreach activities."
Among the firm's recent precedent-setting pro bono victories initiated by Zeisler, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of a group of female athletes in a Title IX class action lawsuit against the Sweetwater Union High School District. The judge determined the school district unfairly favored boys' sports over girls' sports at Castle Park High School by giving the boys better athletic facilities, resources and opportunities. The case, Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School, et al., was originally filed in 2007 by the CWLC and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, with Manatt joining as pro bono co-counsel in early 2008.
Zeisler is also one of the architects of the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network (HSJN), the single largest coordinated pro bono effort in U.S. history, providing free legal services to Holocaust survivors seeking German "Ghetto Work" reparations and related pensions. Legal assistance is essential, as the German applications and declarations are complex. For survivors without legal representation a high percentage of applications are denied. More than 100 law firms and corporate legal departments have delivered legal services to thousands of survivors through the network's unique pro bono legal clinic model. At the height of the project, clinics operated in 30 cities across the nation.
After first joining Manatt as a Corporate associate in 1999, Zeisler re-joined the firm in 2005, after living and working in Ukraine for two years as a Business Education volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps. While overseas, she taught critical thinking, decision-making, leadership, and management courses at two higher-education institutes; conducted seminars for women-owned micro-enterprises; led peer-to-peer training classes in HIV/AIDS education and prevention; and developed a first-of-its-kind mentoring program for orphans, which has since received recognition from the Ukrainian government and grown into a multi-city project.
Zeisler serves on advisory committees for several national and local legal and community service organizations. She is a member of the State Bar of California's Legal Services Trust Fund Commission, the board of directors of OneJustice, the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, and the California Pro Bono Coordinating Committee. Zeisler was named Bet Tzedek's 2011 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year for her work with HSJN and has received the State Bar of California's Wiley W. Manual Award for Pro Bono Legal Services in several years.
Zeisler was recognized at the CWLC's Abby J. Leibman Pursuit of Justice Award reception on May 10, 2012, at the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Also honored at the event were Julia R. Wilson, Executive Director of One Justice and the Legal Aid Association of California, and former Castle Park High School coach Douglas Christopher Martinez.
About Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, is one of the nation's leading law firms, with offices strategically located in California (Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sacramento), New York (New York City and Albany) and Washington, D.C. The firm represents a sophisticated client base – including Fortune 500, middle-market and emerging companies – across a range of practice areas and industry sectors. For more information, visit www.manatt.com.
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