Pro Bono News

Dick Rothschild to Receive Highest Public Interest Honor from State Bar

Friday, September 26, 2008

  • The State Bar of California
  • Source: CALegalAdvocates (Decommissioned) >

The Board of Directors and the staff of the Western Center on Law and Poverty are pleased to share this exciting news with you. Dick will receive this much-deserved award this Friday at the annual meeting of the State Bar in Monterey. Many of his friends and colleagues will be there to celebrate with him:

From the State Bar of California:

Richard Rothschild, a preeminent Los Angeles litigator and appellate lawyer who has dedicated his 32-year career at the Western Center on Law and Poverty to helping the poor, is the 2008 recipient of the State Bar's Loren Miller Legal Services Award.

"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 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."

Rothschild, 59, dubbed the "dean of public interest law" by the Daily Journal, joined the Western Center on Law and Poverty in 1976 as a staff attorney and became director of litigation in 1984. He has been involved, usually as lead or co-counsel, in much of the landmark litigation enforcing the rights of low-income Californians over the past three decades.

For example, cases he has argued have resulted in:

Compelling counties to provide health care to the working poor who can afford to pay some, but not all, of their treatment.
Reimbursement for Medi-Cal beneficiaries who pay for their care.
Court hearings to determine eligibility for waivers of court fees based on inability to pay.
Exclusion of the cost of health care grants in determining general assistance payments.
Allowing homeless people to receive subsistence general relief benefits despite not having a residential address.
"With [Rothschild], poor people in California have had appellate advocacy of the highest caliber, the kind otherwise available only to the wealthiest clients and the largest corporations and institutions,"said retired Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson."He did not always win when appearing in the court on which I served, but he always deserved to win if judged by the quality of his lawyering."

Rothschild was principal counsel in Serrano v. Priest, the landmark education case that changed the school funding structure. His expertise on attorney fees case law and litigation led to a California Supreme Court ruling awarding legal services programs the same fees earned by attorneys in private practice.

A graduate of Yale University and the University of Southern California Law School, Rothschild has been a law review editor and member of the Order of the Coif. He was a clerk for California Supreme Court Associate Justice Stanley Mosk before joining the center.