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Farella Braun + Martel's Diversity Scholarship Program Continues Aiding Bay Area Minority First-Year Law Students

April 30, 2009 Press Release

In its Ninth Year, Five 2009 Scholarship Recipients Announced

SAN FRANCISCO, April 30, 2009 - Farella Braun + Martel LLP has awarded its annual Diversity Scholarship of $5,000 to five first-year students at Bay Area law schools, totaling $25,000.  Since starting the scholarship program in 2001, the firm has provided $169,000 in scholarship aid for deserving students with socially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.  The recipients were selected based on academic accomplishments, commitment to serving the community and financial need.

"We are thrilled to give back and assist this worthy group of first-year law school students with Diversity Scholarships.  The Diversity Scholarship is a way that our firm can promote diversity in the legal profession while also assisting well-deserving students," said Jennifer Peneyra, Farella Braun + Martel's recruiting and diversity manager.  "We have been able to keep in touch with past recipients, many of whom have since graduated from law school and joined law firms, while others are practicing in-house, with government agencies and for public interest organizations.  They are succeeding as students and attorneys and are active contributors to community initiatives that further promote diversity."

The five recipients of the 2009 Farella Braun + Martel Diversity Scholarships are:

Aidin Castillo
Castillo attends the University of California, Davis School of Law.  She is a member of the La Raza Law Student Association and King Hall Legal Foundation and co-chairs La Raza's Pre-Law Student Association.  She also received undergraduate degrees from Davis, double majoring in history and political science.  Castillo co-founded the Scholars Promoting Education Awareness and Knowledge (S.P.E.A.K.) Program, served as the university representative for the California DREAM Network and co-directed informational workshops about educational access for undocumented students.  Prior to entering law school, Castillo worked as a community organizer with People United for Economic Justice Building Leadership through Organizing (PUEBLO).  She co-authored a bilingual book of immigrant testimonies, In the Shadows of Paradise, published in November 2008.  This summer, Castillo will clerk with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Unnati Gandhi
A student at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, Gandhi is a 1L Representative on the Associated Students of UC Hastings Council and will serve as a 2L Representative in the coming academic year. She has also been elected to serve as co-president of the South Asian Law Students Association for the 2009-2010 school year.  Gandhi graduated with honors from Ryerson University School of Journalism in Toronto, Ontario.  She began a career in journalism after college, serving as a city reporter with The Montreal Gazette and as a radio room reporter with the Toronto Star.  Most recently, Gandhi worked as a national correspondent for Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and she received the New York Festivals' Silver World Medal for Radio Broadcasting in 2007. Gandhi will extern for The Honorable Marilyn H. Patel at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this summer.1

Joshua Johnson
Johnson, a student at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, is an editing member of both the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy and the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.  He is also a 1L Representative for the Law Students of African Descent.  He graduated magna cum laude from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a B. A. in Spanish and humanities and a minor in African American studies.  Johnson was honored with the Certificate of Intercultural Competence and the McKay Leadership Service Award in recognition of his numerous activities, which included serving as a Summit Leader of the Loyola Marymount University Intercultural Practicum for local high school students, and a participant in the Monster Diversity Leadership Program.  After earning his undergraduate degree, he was selected to be the first intern in the Emilia Lechuga-Bass Civil Rights Internship Program at Litt Estuar Harrison & Kitson LLP.  This summer, Johnson will clerk with the Equal Justice Society.

Camille Pannu
Pannu attends the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, where she coordinates the Environmental Justice Practice Group and serves as a law school representative to the Environmental and Social Justice Graduate Group.  She also serves on the planning committee for the Environmental Justice Symposium and is co-chair of the Green Collar Jobs Lab within the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative.  Pannu earned her B.A. in international political economy, with honors, from UC Berkeley, where she was awarded the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research for her senior thesis.  Prior to law school, she was an evaluation coordinator for a development aid intervention in Kenya and was later a postgraduate fellow at Yale Law School, where she also served as a Student Director at the Community and Economic Development Clinic.  Pannu will work with Communities for a Better Environment this summer.

Mariam Smairat 
Smairat is a student at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and is a member of its Black Law Students Association.  She received a B.A. in justice studies from Montclair State University in New Jersey, and worked full-time while in college as a document analyst with Citistreet and as a legal assistant for two law firms.  Smairat also volunteered as an investigative intern with the Office of the Public Defender, Passaic Region and mentored high school students through St. Mary's Church Youth Group.  Before enrolling in law school, she worked for two years as a litigation assistant at Davis Polk & Wardwell.  Smairat will serve as a summer associate for AT&T West.

About Farella Braun + Martel's Diversity Program:
One of Farella Braun + Martel's core values is Success Through Teamwork, Diversity and Respect.  We are able to better serve our clients, our profession and our community by building a workforce comprised of attorneys and staff with varied backgrounds in a workplace that appreciates individual differences.  Diversity is not merely discussed in the abstract; it is an integral part of our firm, reinforced by action and initiative.  The triad of the Diversity Committee, its subcommittees and the Diversity Manager focus on three main areas:  Recruitment, Retention and Advancement; the Diversity Pipeline; and Community Service.

Farella Braun + Martel represents clients throughout the United States and abroad in sophisticated business transactions and high-stakes commercial, civil and criminal litigation.  Founded in 1962, the firm is headquartered in San Francisco and maintains an office in the Napa Valley focused on the wine industry. Farella Braun + Martel lawyers are known for their imaginative legal solutions, dynamism and intellectual creativity. With an unwavering service ethic and interdisciplinary team approach, the firm is committed to advancing clients' objectives in the most effective, coordinated and efficient manner. Farella Braun + Martel is a Green Business. www.fbm.com

Contacts:
Melinda Hepp / Traci Stuart  
Blattel Communications 
415.397.4811 
[email protected] / [email protected]

Cheryl Loof
Farella Braun + Martel LLP
415 954.4433 / [email protected]

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