Being a leader isn’t always about being first. But when it comes to helping create positive change at both the institutional and national level, being first certainly helps establish the image and impact a leader can make.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, the State Bar of California will formally present University of La Verne College of Law Dean Gilbert Holmes with one of its inaugural Presidential Awards, given in recognition of his efforts to provide access to justice.

In his letter informing the dean of the decision, state bar President Luis J. Rodriguez stated “I am proud to inform you that you will be the first person to receive the Presidential Award for Access to Justice for your commitment to making legal education more accessible to the community.”

As he starts his second year at La Verne Law, Dean Holmes has spent a large part of his 25-year career in legal education helping students gain admission and succeed in law school. He established the Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars program in 2010 at the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he served nearly 12 years on the faculty including six years as the dean.

In what proved to be an auspicious first year at La Verne Law, Dean Holmes helped form the law school’s new vision and mission statements. He worked with the faculty to revise the curriculum and create the La Verne Model of Legal Education. And he championed adoption of the innovative flat, no discount $25,000 “True Tuition Model” for the 2014-15 academic year, an effort that drew national attention when it was first announced in March.

While thrilled and grateful to be chosen as the inaugural honoree, Dean Holmes was quick to recognize others who played key roles in La Verne Law’s accomplishments and development.

“This is a great honor, but the real credit goes to the faculty and staff at the College of Law and senior management and the Board of Trustees at the University for acting in accordance with the core values of the University of La Verne,” Dean Holmes said.

If you are in the San Diego area or are participating in the California State Bar Annual Meeting, we encourage you to stop by the complimentary reception for alumni and friends of La Verne Law.  It will be held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego on Saturday, September 13 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.  Congratulate Dean Holmes in person, find out more about the plans for La Verne Law, or just enjoy some refreshments before heading out to dinner.  We would love to have you join us.  To make a reservation, please contact Monika Moore at

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