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Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 27, 2015
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Jerrilyn Malana, Employment Law Attorney and Shareholder | Littler Mendelson, P.C.by Cassandra Mougin, Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC
Jerrilyn was raised in San Diego by immigrant parents; a Filipino father and Japanese mother who pushed her and her siblings to excel. She graduated in 1986 from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in psychology and minor in biology. She aspired to be a research scientist someday, and worked as a research assistant at various institutions including the Salk Institute.
However, she later moved to Hawaii when her husband, who was a military officer, was transferred to Hawaii. Jerrilyn had to start afresh and began a new career in Human Resources. She also obtained her M.B.A. at Chaminade University. While studying for her degree, she had the opportunity to observe a local judge and she became captivated by the legal profession. She returned to San Diego and worked as a Human Resources professional, but still had fleeting thoughts of attending law school. After an amicable divorce and the odds stacked against her, and in need of financial aid, she took the leap to enroll at California Western School of Law in 1995. She credits her former supervisor and mentor, Ina Mozer, for encouraging her to attend law school. Jerrilyn describes herself as "a bit of a fanatic” in law school, but it was this dedication that garnered her a full scholarship to California Western. In law school, she proved to be a leader and mentor to other students. She also served as Executive Editor of the Law Review. Jerrilyn graduated from law school, magna cum laude, and served as a federal law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. She joined Littler in 1999.
At Littler, Jerrilyn represents Fortune 500 clients and local businesses in all types of employmentrelated litigation involving claims of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and wage & hour violations. She also provides counseling and training to employers to avoid employment-related claims. Jerrilyn has received numerous national, regional and local attorney awards with regard to her practice in employment law. She is a member and former co-chair of Litter’s National Diversity and Inclusion Council. She is also part of the leadership team of ‘Ohana, an affinity group for Asian Pacific American and South Asian American attorneys. Jerrilyn proudly states, "At Littler, diversity and inclusion are not viewed as goals, but rather as core cultural values that are an integral component of the firm’s continued success.”
Jerrilyn has been recognized as a Trailblazer by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. In 2009, Jerrilyn served as the President of the San Diego County Bar Association, which is the region’s oldest and largest law-related organization with over 10,000 members. She was the first Asian Pacific American to serve as President. Currently, Jerrilyn is the President of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Alumni Association, which represents 160,000 alums worldwide.
Jerrilyn is the first person of color to lead the organization. Jerrilyn also serves on the Executive Committee of the Bench-Bar Coalition in California.
Jerrilyn devotes a significant portion of her volunteer time to community and civic matters, and mentoring students and young professionals to help them to succeed. She understands the implicit message in the statement: "You can’t be what you can’t see” and the importance of having positive role models for minority students and young professionals.
Jerrilyn is a former member of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access & Fairness, which is the Bar’s "think tank” on diversity. She is a founding Advisory Board member for the Academy of Law at Crawford High School, which is a diversity pipeline program for the legal profession. Jerrilyn also serves on the Board of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, which provides technical assistance to help victims of domestic violence. She is a Master with the American Inns of Court, William B. Enright Chapter. She also serves as a Trustee for the UC San Diego Foundation. Jerrilyn continues to serve on the San Diego County Bar Association’s Bench/Bar committee and Community Service committee. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Asian Business Association. She is Co-Chair of the Friends Committee for the National Association of Women Judges 2014 Annual Conference. Jerrilyn is the former Co-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Employment & Labor Relations Law Committee for the Section of Litigation. She is a past President of Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, and past Board Member of several organizations including the Filipino American Lawyers of San Diego, Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC), San Diego Asian Film Foundation, and San Diego Opera.
So what drives Jerrilyn to do what she does in the community? She states, "I have been blessed with many opportunities and have had the support of many people over the years including several mentors and sponsors. I am eternally grateful for their support, and want to give back. In fact, as attorneys, we all have unique skills to help the community, and we each have an obligation and duty to give back.” Notably, in 2010, California Western School of Law awarded Jerrilyn an honorary Doctors of Laws degree for her exemplary service to the community.
As for CMCP, Jerrilyn is proud that Littler has been a long-time supporter of the organization. CMCP offers attorneys of color a unique opportunity to engage with corporate counsel and outside counsel to build strong networks, which will ultimately help them to succeed in the legal profession. She credits CMCP for assisting her with her own business development, and helping to maintain relationships with those who share the same core values with regard to diversity and inclusion matters.
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