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Sonenshine Welcome Reception

October 30, 2012

Morgan Lewis hosted the 17th Annual Sheila Prell Sonenshine Welcome Reception. Lawyers who are new to Orange County had the chance to connect with Orange County pro bono, social service, and arts and culture organizations while exploring opportunities to make pro bono and charitable work commitments.

To view the event program, please click here.

To view a presentation with more information on the participating organizations, please click here.

To read more about why you should do pro bono work, please click here.

Featured Speakers:

  • Justice Sheila Prell Sonenshine (Ret.)
  • Judge Richard A. Paez, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – "Our Commitment to Public Service"
  • Judge Andrew J. Guilford of the U.S. District Court for Central District of California – "Surviving Your First Years as a Lawyer"
  • Jennifer A. Reass of Latham & Watkins – "The Positive Impact of Providing Pro Bono Service"

Raffle Prizes Included:

  • $1,000 Visa Gift Card
  • Weekend Stay at the Hyatt Regency Irvine & $100 Park Grill Gift Card
  • $350 Apple Store Gift Card
  • Apple iPod Touch
  • $100 Visa Gift Card
  • $100 Nordstrom Gift Card
  • $100 Floral Arrangement Gift Card
  • $75 Mastro's Steakhouse Gift Card
  • $50 California Pizza Kitchen Gift Card
  • Three gift cards for massages at Hit the Spot



The following organizations attended this year:

History and Purpose

Conceived by Justice Sheila Prell Sonenshine in 1994, the annual Pro Bono Reception is designed to introduce new lawyers and accountants at Orange County's larger law and professional services firms to pro bono and volunteer service opportunities in the community. By bringing together legal and accounting professionals and social service agencies, as well as arts and cultural organizations, the Pro Bono Reception provides a venue to explore opportunities and to make a pro bono commitment. Well over a thousand new Orange County attorneys and accountants have attended the Reception since its inception.

Organizations and Groups Served

Because only three California State Bar IOLTA funded agencies serve Orange County's three million plus people, these providers partner with other county human services agencies. The Reception therefore always includes traditional pro bono providers like the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and the Public Law Center, as well as domestic violence service agencies, food and shelter groups, and health care providers. Arts and education groups who support outreach programs to the disadvantaged also regularly attend. Through the years, all these groups have benefited from hundreds of hours of donated time from professionals new to the Orange County community.

A clearinghouse of pro bono opportunities in Orange County can be found here.

Justice Sheila Prell Sonenshine

The Honorable Sheila Sonenshine has lived her life pursuing and bringing justice to the world. After receiving a Bachelor's in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Juris Doctor from the Loyola University School of Law, she began a distinguished 35-year career in law and business. Justice Sonenshine was appointed to the Superior Court of Orange County in 1981 and in 1982 was elevated to the California Court of Appeal where she served until 1999.

Though most people would find retirement a respite from a long career, Justice Sonenshine chose to make it a new beginning. When she left the bench, she co-founded RSM EquiCo, an international investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions of middle market companies. She retired from RSM in 2004 and went on to manage the Escher Fund, a private equity fund that focuses on growth-state, women-owned, and women-led businesses. Justice Sonenshine joined the JAMS Alternative Dispute Resolution Center in 2008.

Justice Sonenshine's work on the bench, as a businesswoman, and as a philanthropist has led to many awards, including the California State Bar Association Jurist of the Year, The American Bar Association Outstanding Service to Family Law, the Anti-Defamation League Marcus Kaufman Jurisprudence Award, and Temple Bat Yahm's Elie Wiesel Award for Jewish Ideals and Human Dignity.