The New Lawyers Section of the California Lawyers Association has awarded Keker, Van Nest & Peters associate Deeva Shah the 2022 Jack Berman Award. In the face of significant professional risk, Ms. Shah has dedicated the last five years to advocating for reforms in one of our nation’s oldest, most revered institutions and the cornerstone of our democracy, the federal judicial system.
“Deeva is a fierce advocate in combatting workplace harassment and discrimination in the judiciary,” Keker, Van Nest & Peters managing partner Steve Taylor, said. “We’re incredibly proud of her work, which has shone a light on the need for awareness and reform within the judiciary and has helped thousands of employees break the cycle of silence around these important issues.”
Ms. Shah co-founded Law Clerks for Workplace Accountability and has advocated for avenues to effectively address sexual harassment and workplace misconduct within the judicial branch. She has presented at National District Judges conference about how power dynamics between judges and clerks discourage reporting of harassment claims. She testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary to advocate for: 1) a reporting process free from retaliation, 2) a comprehensive retrospective review of judicial harassment complaints, 3) investigations into claims regardless of whether a judge retires, and 4) a nationwide misconduct reporting system. She also is co-leading a Keker, Van Nest & Peters team that filed an amicus brief on behalf of current and former federal judiciary employees who had experienced or witnessed harassment and discrimination while working.
“Many lawyers would be fearful of rocking the boat to advocate for change within the judiciary,” Erin Meyer, a Keker, Van Nest & Peters partner supervising Deeva’s work in the aforementioned brief, said. “Deeva’s deep respect for the judiciary fuels her motivation to be part of the solution to the problems that threaten to undermine the institution. That kind of courage is hard to come by.”
Ms. Shah also serves as a board member on Law Clerks for Diversity, which is devoted to increasing the diversity of law clerks in the federal judiciary by providing advice, mentorship and other resources to help diverse applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups navigate the clerkship hiring process.
“Jack Berman devoted himself to helping others, and his life and his legacy are a demonstration of what it means to serve the public through our profession,” Ms. Shah said. “I am honored to receive this award, which serves as a reminder of the resources and capacity for change available to lawyers, and a call to speak up and think critically about our role in an otherwise risk-averse profession.”
Ms. Shah’s legal practice focuses on complex commercial litigation especially intellectual property, legal malpractice, and contract disputes. She is currently part of a team defending Google in a multi-patent case brought by Singular Computing in the District of Massachusetts related to specialized chips used for machine learning, and is also defending a law firm against legal malpractice claims. Ms. Shah earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and B.A. in political and social thought from the University of Virginia. She served as a law clerk to Hon. Raymond Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Hon. Stephen V. Wilson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Ms. Shah is a first-generation college student originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The New Lawyers Section established this prestigious award in 1992 in memory of Jack Berman. Mr. Berman was a young attorney who performed outstanding service to both the public and the profession before he tragically died in a shooting in San Francisco. The Award honors his dedicated service to issues of concern to the profession, especially to young lawyers.