1981 MCBA President: Hon. Beverly B. Savitt (Ret)
Aug 01, 2015
I was a latecomer to the law. I was admitted to the bar at age 41. In 1968, I started practice as a volunteer for Legal Aid and used the library of Ann Diamond and David Baty whose office was next door to the Legal Aid office in the Albert Building. Within a few months, I became an associate of the firm. With a desk and chair provided by a friend who was in the office furniture business, I established my private practice. At that time, Ann specialized in Family Law and Dave in Real Property and Business.
My practice consisted of referrals from each of the partners and Lawyer Referral. In less than a year, I became a “junior partner” and my caseload became more and more family law oriented.
I joined the MCBA as the sixth woman member; the first five were Natalie Holly, Bette Callaghan, Ann Diamond, Dorothy Young, and Bella Aaron. I became active on various committees including the “fee committee.” Larry Wright was the chair. We researched various fee schedules from around the state as well as nationally. (At that time, I was charging $35.00 an hour and more senior attorneys $50.00 to $60.00.) A different schedule for Probate Attorneys was adopted by setting prices for particular procedures and another schedule for Criminal Defense Lawyers. After months of work, the MCBA adopted the recommended schedule. About one year later the U.S. Supreme Court found attorney fee schedules a violation of the anti-trust laws and that put an end to the MCBA fee schedule.
In 1969, we moved our offices to the Bank of Marin at 5th and B Streets. The old Marin County Courthouse was abandoned and moved to new larger quarters at the Civic Center. The Bar Association/Legal Aid/Lawyer Referral Service remained in the Albert Building at 4th & B for several more years.
In 1971, Dave Baty became a Municipal Court Judge, along with Pete Smith, Alvin Goldstein and, Hadden Roth. Shortly thereafter, Ann Cook and Sandra Terzian joined Ann Diamond and me at our firm.
In the following years, our practice was primarily family law. Verna Adams and Cecelia Lannon joined us in an old Victorian house on Mission. In 1975, Ann Diamond became the first woman MCBA President. In 1976, our firm broke up. Verna and I stayed together in the old Victorian until Gov. Jerry Brown appointed me to the Superior Court on January 2, 1983.
I was elected MCBA president in 1981. I was the second woman to hold that position and Verna Adams the third. We held our board meetings at Dominican College and our membership meetings at The Holiday Inn in San Rafael. Our meetings were serious but not noteworthy now. We set up a “past presidents” dinner. It was very successful and has been repeated several times in later years. What I remember most is that we laughed a lot. I enjoyed the responsibility and did not find the work overwhelming.