The Recorder Announces OCBA Member M.C. Sungaila as a finalist for the California Legal Award for Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion

M.C. Sungaila is a highly regarded appellate attorney who has briefed and argued appeals raising cutting-edge and fundamental business issues for over two decades. Her work has helped shape undeveloped areas of the law in constitutional law, employment, franchisor liability, product liability, class actions, probate, immigration, Holocaust art recovery, and human rights.

Building on her decade of adjunct teaching at law schools and work as the founder and Dean of the OCBA’s Summer Appellate Academy (designed to train the next generation of appellate lawyers online, through the pandemic), she and the firm immediately established the Kaufman Appellate Fellowship, a first for BigLaw. This fellowship serves as an apprenticeship training ground for the next generation of appellate lawyers designed to catapult new lawyers into appellate clerkships and appellate practice. In February 2022, M.C. doubled down on her commitment to the next generation of lawyers with the debut of the Portia Project Podcast, which features fireside chats with prominent women judges and lawyers in which they discuss their career paths and share advice.

The Portia Project™ Podcast seeks to inspire the next generation of women lawyers and law students by sharing the stories of high achieving women in the law – their paths to the bench, the bar, and beyond. Their personal histories, spanning the 1960’s to today, chronicle women’s progress in the legal profession and business world, and serve as powerful reminders that there are many individual paths to success.

The podcast includes stories from federal judges, state supreme court justices, and state trial judges from across the country, as well as leading trial lawyers, general counsel, law professors, business and nonprofit executives, and founders. They provide tips on effective lawyering and reveal the array of meaningful careers possible with a law degree, in a format that is a far cry from formal judicial or lawyer profiles in traditional legal publications.

The podcast stemmed from an original concept of a book highlighting interviews with women appellate judges. Including their stories, their personal histories, and what they like to see from advocates. As interviews began, discussions grew longer and included spontaneity and personality from those interviewees that could not be captured in a book. M.C. also recognized that there were only a few podcasts that focused solely on women lawyers, but nothing focused on judges and nothing as comprehensive as she had envisioned.

Once it began, the podcast started branching out to other types of judges as well as what other leadership positions women have in the law and how they have used their law degree in other ways. The Portia Project encapsulates women's progress in the profession with the goal of inspiring a new generation of women lawyers and law students.

Click here to view the full list of winners and finalists.