Mr. Bass's father, Leon Bass, Sr., came home from World War II with the indelible experience of having helped to liberate a concentration camp in Europe. The elder Mr. Bass is a noted speaker, and he recounts his wartime experience in the context of improving racial relations. Mr. Bass's parents were educators and they raised their children in the racially integrated community of Concord Park, Pennsylvania, a community that was a "great place to grow up." After attending the local elementary school, he went to George School, a private Quaker school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his younger sister.
Mr. Bass then attended Cornell University, where he obtained his B.A. in Government. He also took classes at Cornell's School of Human Ecology, which required him to do field work with members of the community, an experience he enjoyed immensely. After graduation from Cornell, he packed up his car and drove with his younger sister to Southern California, where he had visited as a college student. Notably, neither Mr. Bass nor his sister had jobs when they arrived in California.
Fortunately, Mr. Bass soon obtained a position with Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Mr. Bass helped and advised children with various conditions and problems. Mr. Bass was inspired by this experience to obtain his Masters of Social Work degree from USC in 1979. He then worked for a treatment center called Five Acres: Boys' and Girls' Aid Society of Los Angeles in Altadena, California. He did in-take there, and would evaluate pre-adolescent children who were wards of the state and who needed therapeutic treatment.
Mr. Bass's experiences with Five Acres familiarized him with the legal system and rekindled his interest in the law and government. He was particularly struck by how the system treated disadvantaged children. He considered teaching, but instead applied to law school.
Mr. Bass attended Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1985. Along the way, he got married and had his first child. He believes that having these family responsibilities matured and grounded him and caused him not to panic when his law school classmates sometimes did. Still interested in government, he interned in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office while in law school. He even tried a Driving Under the Influence case as an intern, which is notable given the complexity of these cases, which often involve savvy defense attorneys, sympathetic defendants, and technical evidence. Still, he won the case, and also worked that summer under then-Assistant District Attorney Carol Corrigan, now a justice on the California Supreme Court.
Mr. Bass now had the trial bug and decided he wanted to be a prosecutor. He accepted an offer to be an Assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles County, and he served in Inglewood and Torrance. Mr. Bass gained extensive felony trial experience, and tried a murder case, which is a mark of distinction among prosecutors.
Following his service with the District Attorney's Office, he worked for the law firm of Hill, Farrer & Burrill, representing the Santa Fe Railroad Company in worker injury and property damage cases, for five years. He then heard that there were openings at Southern California Edison for litigators, and he was hired in 1994 to work in the Litigation Claims Department. Soon after, he was asked to transfer to the Regulatory Group, where he worked for nine years in the generator resources unit. In that capacity, he dealt with fuel acquisition and other business issues that Southern California Edison frequently confronts.
In 2006, he attained his current position of Director and Managing Attorney of the Commercial Litigation section, where he oversees a wide-range of contractual and other business-related disputes with his staff of four attorneys.
Mr. Bass remains active in community affairs. He is on the Board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation, an organization dedicated to instilling in the nation's youth a deeper understanding of citizenship. The organization sponsors a mock trial competition and teaches underserved children about civic responsibility. For example, the children are assigned real problems, such as local traffic issues, and they have to resolve the problems in a civic manner, such as by contacting local representatives. Mr. Bass has also participated in the past as the mock trial coach for six years at a local school in the Monterey Park section of Los Angeles, and has served as the coach of the mock trial team at the Monterey Highlands (Middle) School.
As we neared the end of our interview, Mr. Bass insisted that I keep the box of tissues for my still-bleeding nose. He reminded me that Southern California Edison has long been involved in CMCP and that he is always willing to help.
But I already knew that.