MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028   diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, September 04, 2009 — It’s the kind of personal accolade that comes to those who go the extra mile: “I can honestly state that I could not have managed to get through this difficult time without (Yasmine Mehmet’s) fantastic assistance,” wrote  client Kim Hess, whose divorce case was handled pro bono by Mehmet through the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP).  “I am impressed with her knowledge, perseverance and dedication not only to my case but to me as an individual.”

Mehmet, who practices in San Francisco, is this year’s recipient of the State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award in the solo practitioner category for her work with that client and many others to whom she donates her time, talent and heart.

Created in 1983, the award is presented each year to California attorneys and law firms credited with making significant contributions in pro bono legal services to those with little income, as well as to organizations that serve the poor. Since she began doing pro bono work shortly after being admitted to the bar in 1998, Mehmet has donated hundreds of hours to the VLSP’s family law project, which provides free legal help to low-income individuals.

Along with several other pro bono and diversity awards recipients, Mehmet will receive her award next week at the State Bar's annual meeting in San Diego.

Now more than ever, public service-minded California lawyers are needed to bridge the ‘Justice Gap,’”says outgoing State Bar President Holly Fujie. “This year, the bar honors extraordinary attorneys who have helped to do so by giving their time, talent and passion to those who otherwise could not afford legal services. They come from different practice settings but what unites them is their commitment to championing a fair and accessible justice system.”

In 2008 alone, Mehmet donated more than 200 hours to represent 11 individual family law clients, five of them new cases. She donated another 50 hours to mentor five new volunteers for the program.

Mehmet is a certified family law specialist in San Francisco, where she works as a solo practitioner. She also volunteers as a settlement master for the superior court, is secretary of the parent teacher organization at an elementary school and volunteers for both Legal Services for Children and La Casa de Las Madres. She also is the coordinator of a monthly speakers program for the bar association's family law section.

“Her unwavering and conscientious dedication and work has brought enlightenment and engendered thoughtful debate and discussion on a veritable cavalcade of subjects of tremendous interest to family law attorneys, bench officers and members of the public who are litigants or who otherwise have contact with the family law courts,” said longtime family law practitioner David Greenthal of San Francisco. Mehmet’s impact, he added, has been “universally regarded as invaluable.”

The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By September 2009, membership reached 223,000.