OAKLAND, CA – The Women Lawyers of Alameda County (WLAC) recognized Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker as the 2016 “Woman Lawyer of Distinction” this month.
Parker received the award at WLAC’s annual Judges’ Dinner and Scholastic Fundraiser which was held on October 13 at the Grandview Pavilion in Alameda.
WLAC also recognized Hon. Tara M. Desautles, Supervising Judge of the Wiley W. Manual Courthouse in Oakland, as the 2016 “Woman Jurist of Distinction.”
The “Woman Lawyer of Distinction” award recognizes Parker for her service as Oakland City Attorney, and her more than 40-year career as an attorney in both the private and public sectors.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1975, Parker worked as an attorney for two major law firms and two major corporations and at every level of government: federal, state and local. She was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California for more than five years, and in 2005 the California State Bar appointed Parker to the State Judicial Counsel. She has worked in the Oakland City Attorney’s Office since 1991, beginning as a line attorney and working her way up to Chief Assistant City Attorney (second-in-command), a post she held for a decade before serving as City Attorney.
In 2012, voters elected Parker as City Attorney. She is the first and the only African American woman elected to a citywide office in Oakland.
As City Attorney, Parker has strived to make the Oakland City Attorney’s Office a nationwide model for a professional and effective public law office.
She has sponsored important legislation including a comprehensive government ethics reform act, Oakland’s illegal dumping ordinance and a recent gun safety ordinance to reduce theft and illegal use of firearms. Parker also has filed major lawsuits to protect Oakland’s rights, including litigation against Monsanto Corporation for decades of contamination of Oakland storm water and the San Francisco Bay; a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo to recover damages caused by the bank’s racially discriminatory mortgage lending practices against African Americans and Hispanics; and a lawsuit against the U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney to uphold Oakland’s right to license and regulate medical cannabis dispensaries.
In her remarks at the WLAC dinner, Parker thanked the WLAC for the award, noting that more than half of the City of Oakland’s 11 elected officials are women, nearly half of Alameda County’s mayors are women and more than half of the attorneys in the Oakland City Attorney’s Office are women.
However, only about a third of Alameda County Superior Court Judges are women, and of the 11 elected City Attorneys in California, Parker currently is the only woman.
“We have so much more to do to eradicate the blatant misogyny, racism, and the religious, disability and sexual orientation discrimination that are front and center in this year’s presidential campaign; and the more subtle discrimination that permeates our culture and institutions,” Parker said. “All of us in our roles as judges, attorneys and public servants are on the front lines of the fight to pave the way for our sisters, our daughters and our children’s children.”