On Saturday, Sept. 13, University of La Verne College of Law Dean Gilbert Holmes was presented the very first Presidential Recognition Award during the State Bar of California’s Annual Meeting held in San Diego.

This is the inaugural year for the awards, established to honor legal educators and professionals in key areas of achievement. In all, five individuals were recognized, with Holmes joined by Open Courts Coalition Co-Chairs Paul Keisel and Niall McCarthy in receiving Access to Justice awards; Bakersfield attorney Jeanne Rubin was presented the Mentorship & Civics Education Award; and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) was given the Public Protection Award.

Holmes was the first recipient called to be presented the honor by outgoing State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez.

“This award is recognition by the state bar of the relationship between tuition, diversity and access to justice,” said Holmes. “I hope this marks the beginning of conversations on how we can support and strengthen the fundamental principles that make this society great.”

Now in his second year at La Verne Law, Holmes has spent a large part of his 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.

Among his accomplishments since becoming La Verne dean, Holmes inserted La Verne Law into the national discussion on the cost of legal education last March when he led the effort to adopt the innovative flat, no discount $25,000 “True Tuition Model of Legal Education. He also helped form the law school’s new vision and mission statements, and worked with the faculty to revise the curriculum and create the La Verne Model of Legal Education.

The day’s events also included a reception hosted by La Verne Law welcoming alumni and friends of the law school to celebrate the recognition bestowed on the dean. Those attending included Delores Huerta, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, and San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Teresa Bennett ’88.

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