Mission Statement:

The San Mateo County Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee has as its purpose to encourage and promote equality and diversity on our Bench and in our Bar for all   underrepresented   minorities.   Our goals include working with local public schools, colleges, and law schools to encourage a diverse base of students to become attorneys who will ultimately practice in San Mateo County.

In the fall of 2008, Kristina Chung and Enrique Marinez, of Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley, approached and worked closely with 2009 SMCBA President Nancy de Ita to develop a committee designed to advance the Bar’s goals of achieving equal employment opportunities for minority attorneys practicing in San Mateo County and in the legal profession overall. The SMCBA Board of Directors adopted their formal proposal in 2009 and formed the Diversity Task Force to, among other things, foster and increase the diversity of its members and enhance the richness of the communities represented by the SMCBA. Since its inception, the Diversity Task Force’s efforts have helped significantly increase membership and participation in the SMCBA particularly of minority attorneys, and the Task Force has been notable for attracting marquee speakers to address the legal community. In 2010, the Board of Directors elevated the Task Force to committee status, and the organization is now known as the SMCBA Diversity Committee.  In 2013, SMCBA Diversity Committee was the proud recipient of the State Bar Diversity Award.

In 2020, the Diversity Committee created the Diversity Pledge and Goals to foster diversity within the legal profession in San Mateo County. The pledge is a guideline for local law firms, corporate law departments, public agencies, and organizations to promote diversity in the hiring, retention, promotion and leadership of Underrepresented Attorneys. 

Sign on to the Diversity Pledge by contacting Deborah Kemper, Executive Director. 

Les Williams Diversity Award:

The Les Williams Diversity Award Recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated a meaningful and consistent commitment to increasing and maintaining diversity in San Mateo County at all levels of the legal profession.  Nominees will exemplify the Diversity Committee’s goal of promoting equality in the San Mateo County Bench and Bar for all underrepresented minorities and other groups.  The Award will be presented at the Annual Speaker’s Series.

To submit a nomination please complete this form and mail to:
SMCBA-Diversity Chair, 333 Bradford St., Ste. 150, Redwood City, CA  94063 or email to smcountybar@smcba.org.

Nancy de Ita Scholarship:

The San Mateo County Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee is pleased to announce its 2023 Nancy de Ita Scholarship. We will be awarding one or two $2,500.00 scholarships. The scholarship is open to all incoming and currently registered law students. The Nancy de Ita Scholarship is given to an incoming/current law student, or recent graduate who has not passed the bar exam to encourage and support their commitment to the legal profession and diversify our community. Applicants must email chairperson, Jamay Lee, with the completed application and a 1,000 word (max) essay on the topic “How Diversity Strengthens Our Profession.” Please download the application intake form and email your application and essay to the Diversity Chairperson no later than July 7, 2023. 

For more information about this scholarship, please contact the Diversity Chairperson, Jamay Lee.


2022 Chair, Jamay Lee of The Law Office Jamay Lee, APC

Keynote Speakers:

Brookings Metro Senior Fellow Andre M. Perry

California Black Freedom Fund Executive Director Marc A. Philpart

2021 Chair, Joanna Wald of Viola Law Firm, P.C.

Keynote Speakers:

San Mateo County Superior Court Presiding Judge Leland Davis, III

California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District Justice Teri L. Jackson

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Erica R. Yew

2020 Chair, Joanna Wald of Viola Law Firm, P.C.

Keynote Speaker:

Tuskegee Airman Lieutenant Col. Harry T. Stewart, Jr.

2019 Chair, Monica Castillo of McDowall Cotter, APC

Keynote Speaker:

Judicial Appointment Secretary, Justice Martin J. Jenkins (Ret.)

2018 Chair, Monica Castillo of McDowall Cotter, APC

Keynote Speakers:

Senior Associate Director of Anti-Defamation League, Nancy Appel

Intelligence Project director of Southern Poverty Law Center, Heidi Beirich

2017 Chair, Monica Castillo of McDowall Cotter, APC

Keynote Speakers:

Civil Rights Attorney & Executive Director of San Francisco Council on American Islamic Relations, Zahra Billoo

Senior Attorney & Immigration Program Supervisor Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Mariam Kelly

2016 Chair Kristina Lee, Attorney at Law

Keynote Speakers:

California Supreme Court Associate Justice Leondra Kruger

Interim Dean and Professor of Law, Berkeley Law School, Melissa Murray

2015 Chairs, Chinhayi Coleman Cadet of the U.S. Attorney’s Office & Peter F. Goldscheider, Attorney at Law

Keynote Speakers:

Civil Rights Attorney John L. Burris

San Mateo County Under-Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos

2014 Chair, Protima Pandey of Bay Area Legal Aid

Keynote Speakers:

State Bar of California President, Luis J. Rodriguez

Dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky

2013 Chair, Kevin Allen, Attorney at Law

Keynote Speakers:

Dean of University of California, Davis Law School, Kevin R. Johnson

Former University of California Regent, Ward Connerly

Dean Emeritus & Professor of Law of Golden Gate University School of Law, Peter G. Keane

2012 Chair, Ray Buenaventura, Attorney at Law

Keynote Speakers:

California Supreme Court Associate Justice Goodwin Liu

Civil Rights Attorney Eva Paterson

2011 Chair, Jim Biernat of Biernat Law Group

Keynote Speaker:

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

2010 Chair, Sandy Narayan of Narayn Law Firm

Keynote Speakers:

California Supreme Court Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar

Attorney and Civil Rights Pioneer Dale Minami

2009 Chair, Kristina Chung of Ropers, Majeski, Kohn and Bentley

Keynote Speakers:

California Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno

California State Bar President Holly Fujie

Please feel free to contact Deborah Kemper, Executive Director, if you would like someone to speak at your school regarding diversity. 

Diversity Committee Chair: Jamay Lee
The Law Office Jamay Lee, APC
951 Mariners Island Blvd., Ste. 300 San Mateo, CA (650) 378-1263