Fay Stender

CWL's Prestigous Fay Stender Award

CWL established the Fay Stender Award in 1982 in honor of Fay Stender, a Bay Area attorney who spent much of her professional life fighting for prisoners' rights.

Fay Abrahams Stender was born in Berkeley in 1932, the third generation of her mother's family to be born in the Bay Area. She attended Reed College and graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a major in English Literature, going on to receive a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1956.

After clerking for Associate Justice John W. Shenk, California Supreme Court, Ms. Stender associated with criminal defense attorney Charles Garry, where, over the next ten years, she founded the Prison Law Project and represented a number of prisoners, including George Jackson, whose prison letters were published in 1970 as Soledad Brother. She was also active in professional organizations on the national, state and local levels. She was a member of CWL's first elected board, and even after leaving the board remained actively involved in the organization's work. Fay chaired CWL's Joint Custody Project, and served on the advisory Committee of the Women's Litigation Unit. She also chaired the San Francisco Bar Association's Employment of Women Committee, and served on the charter board of Equal Rights Advocates' Lesbian Rights Project.

In the early morning hours of Memorial Day, 1979, Fay was shot five times by an intruder who falsely accused her of betraying George Jackson. Gravely injured and seriously disabled, she committed suicide one year later. She was survived by her mother, sister, husband, two children, and by numerous friends and colleagues.

Throughout her life, Fay undertook unpopular causes and worked with under-represented groups and individuals. Her tenacity, creativity, and compelling sense of justice were legendary, and her commitment, energy and integrity enriched all who were privileged to work with her.

The annual award is given to a feminist attorney who, like Fay Stender, is committed to the representation of women, disadvantaged groups and unpopular causes, and whose courage, zest for life and demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual make her a role model for women attorneys.

Candidates for the award are judged on the basis of the following attributes which were characteristic of Fay Stender:

  • Zest, humanity, personal courage, forceful presence and non-conformity;
  • Demonstrated commitment to under-represented or disadvantaged groups or unpopular causes.
  • Demonstrated feminist perspective;
  • Vigorous advocacy on behalf of women litigants which serves as a model for women attorneys;
  • Demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual;
  • Lack of public recognition that the candidate possesses these attributes.
  • The Fay Stender award is presented annually at CWL's dinner at the autumn California State Bar Annual Meeting.

Please submit nominations of no longer than 5 pages in writing, describing the nominee and the ways in which she meets the above criteria, along with a resume and up to 5 letters of support by mail to:

700 R Street, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95811
or by email to: info@cwl.org

Past recipients include:

Cynthia Chandler, Golden Gate University School of Law
Hon. Lynn Schenk
Patricia K. Gillette, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP
Jane Kahn, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, San Francisco
Hanna Beth Jackson, Former Assemblywoman and Attorney
Victoria Jacobs, Voluntary Legal Services Program, Sacramento
Sharmin Esraghi Bock, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Oakland
Hon. Julie Conger (Ret.)
Hon. Kim R. Hubbard, Orange County Superior Court
Tanya Neiman (Posthumously)
Lilia S. Velasquez, Law Office of Lilia S. Velasquez, San Diego
Bonnie Rose Hough, Administrative Office of the Courts, San Francisco
Kate Yavenditti, Law Office of Kate Yavenditti, San Diego
Lilly T. Spitz, California Planned Parenthood, Sacramento
Nancy K. D. Lemon, University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley
Sharon Kalemkiarian, Ashworth, Blancett, San Diego
Beth H. Parker, Arnold & Porter LLP, San Francisco
Meredith Blake, Cause & Affect, Los Angeles
Carol Churchill, Signall Hill
Tina Rasnow, Emeritus Attorney, Ventura County Bar Association
Donna Bashaw, Laguna Hills
Abby Leibman, Los Angeles
Gay C. Danforth, Rosen, Bien & Galvin, San Francisco
Abby J. Silverman, Los Angeles
Hon. Nancy L. Davis, San Francisco Superior Court
Drucilla Stender Ramey, Dean, Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco
Pauline W. Gee, Office of the California Attorney General, Sacramento
Patricia Herzog (dec.)
Margaret Crosby, ACLU of Northern California, San Francisco
Winter Dellenbach, Palo Alto
Hon. Marsha Berzon, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Susan McGreivy, Ithaca, NY
Marian M. Johnston, Sacramento
Amanda Hawes, Partner, Alexander Hawes, LLP, San Jose
Eva Jefferson Patterson, Founder and President, Equal Justice Society, San Francisco
Karen Kaplowitz, Founder and President, The New Ellis Group, New Hope, PA