Patricia Lee recently retired as the Special Assistant for Diversity and Bar Relations at the State Bar of California. In this capacity she served as liaison to the State Bar Council on Access & Fairness, the State Bar’s diversity “think tank”, supporting the creation and expansion of diversity and inclusion initiatives by law firms, bar associations, nonprofit groups and academic entities, as well as addressing issues along the diversity pipeline through a variety of initiatives covering high school law academies, community college pathways, law school admissions and bar exam passage, legal employer practices, factors addressing effective lawyering, and judicial diversity. Prior to this position, she served as Director of the State Bar’s Office of Legal Services, Access & Fairness Programs focusing on equal access to justice for low- and moderate-income persons, lawyer referral services, legal services funding, and diversity and elimination of bias issues.
From 1998 to 2001, Ms. Lee served as founding Director of Santa Clara County’s Office of Women’s Advocacy, addressing critical issues and emerging trends affecting women, girls and families. Programs addressed the successful transition of women upon release from jail back into the community, work life balance issues, leadership initiatives for girls, and public concerns regarding the Family Court operations and impact on low income and diverse families. Ms. Lee began her legal career as a VISTA attorney, becoming the managing attorney at both the Mission and the Chinatown/Northbeach Offices at the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation. She also served as Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer for the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County. The agency provided civil legal services to low-income residents in areas including landlord/tenant, fair housing, family law, domestic violence, public benefits, immigration, special education, school desegregation matters and services to indigent criminal defendants. From 1980 to 1986 Ms. Lee was Director of the State Bar Office of Legal Services where she was responsible for implementing the legislation which created the State Bar’s IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) program, as well as the State Bar’s newly adopted pro bono policy, forging partnerships between legal services programs and local bar associations throughout the state. She helped to create the Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC), the Executives of California Legal Associations (ECLA) and the annual convening of the Pro Bono Service Awards and reception. Accounts) program, as well as the State Bar’s newly adopted pro bono policy, forging partnerships between legal services programs and local bar associations throughout the state. She helped to create the Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC), the Executives of California Legal Associations (ECLA) and the Annual convening of the Pro Bono Service Awards and reception.
Ms. Lee currently serves as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Public Education. She has served as Chair of the ABA Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Chair of the ABA Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusion, and Chair of the National Association of Bar Executives Diversity Committee. She has also served on the ABA Council for Diversity in the Education Pipeline. She is a recipient of the prestigious ABA Spirit of Excellence Award and has received the Santa Clara County Bar Association Unsung Hero Award, the Community Services Award from For People of Color, Inc, and was inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame. She has served in leadership positions for a variety of non-profit community and legal services organizations including the United Way of Silicon Valley, Bay Area Legal Aid, Santa Clara County Bar Association, Silicon Valley Funding Consortium, and was a founding board member of the Pro Bono Project of Santa Clara County.
Ms. Lee received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley and is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law. She was admitted to the State Bar of California in February 1972.