It is not surprising that Kelly has also been recognized nationally for her practice and for her work with the community. She is the recipient of the 2011 Legal Momentum Women of Achievement Award, the 2010 National Association of Women Judges Florence K. Murray Award (for influencing women to pursue legal careers, opening doors for women attorneys, and advancing opportunities for women within the legal profession), the 2008 Centro Legal de la Raza Community Justice Award, and the 2007 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award. She has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer and a Top California Women Litigator and a Top 20 California Lawyer Under Age 40 by the Daily Journal
We are proud to feature CMCP member Kelly Dermody.
What does diversity mean to you?
It means meaningful representation reflecting the demographics of the broader community.
What are your three major accomplishments as an attorney?
- Involvement as lead counsel in a series of cases on behalf of uninsured patients who were price gouged by California hospitals that resulted in over $1 billion of refunds and debt relief and significant pricing reductions going forward.
- Specializing in discrimination class actions that focus not only on money damages, but on creating lasting change to advance opportunities for women and minorities.
- Having the privilege of serving as a leader of the Bar Association of San Francisco and for several civil rights non-profits.
What do you feel was one of your biggest setbacks? What did you learn from that experience?
Being a litigator means that there are many battles that you may lose. Even if you do everything "right,” sometimes the law changes or bad luck happens. I try to use my setbacks as motivation to overcome the obstacle in front of me. I’ve learned that a positive outlook and an ability to bounce back create opportunities for success again downstream.
What makes you happy outside of work?
I’m pretty content in my regular everyday life, spending time with my partner Billie Mizell, seeing my friends.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Ithaca, NY (upstate), and my mom was an elementary school teacher and my dad was a college professor. They placed a high value on education and hard work. I was the youngest of 4 kids, and my siblings were 8, 10, and 12 years older than me. They took me everywhere with them, and they were incredibly kind to me growing up.
Who are the three people you look up to the most?
Among historical figures, I’d say Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and Bobby Kennedy (RFK). In terms of contemporaries I admire, it would be NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, CA Attorney General Kamala Harris, and the federal judge I clerked for in Nashville, Hon. John T. Nixon.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
That is so far away, it is hard to even guess. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were still practicing at my firm, still doing bar activities.
What is your favorite read? Why?
For daily reading, I enjoy the New York Times because I appreciate well written, well researched news reporting. But I think my favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird.
Do you have any pets?
Yes. A golden retriever (Jaakko) and a cat (Atticus).