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Hon. Elizabeth White: Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles [By Charisse Dengler] Judge Elizabeth White has her bases covered. Having worked as both a paralegal and an attorney, White is currently a judge with the Los Angeles Superior Court’s South District, which includes Long Beach and San Pedro.

“I have what is called a general jurisdiction

As a paralegal at Loeb & Loeb, White

White’s advice comes from her own

civil assignment, which means I handle

worked in civil litigation on some pretty

experience. Upon completion of UCLA’s

cases which have in controversy $25,000

well-known cases, including the Jack Ryan

paralegal program, she accepted a

or more; so it could be a relatively small

vs. Mattel Toy Company litigation over the

temporary position indexing documents at

personal injury case, or it could be a large

rights to the Barbie doll.

Loeb & Loeb. When the temporary time frame was up, she told one of the partners

construction dispute or a Jones Act case dealing with a seaman who’s been injured or

When it comes to giving advice to paralegal

that she would like to stay with the firm

killed at sea,” she said. “[There are a] wide,

students, White said she thinks students

permanently. In her words, she “took the

wide, wide variety of civil suits.”

should look for opportunities to get

bull by the horns and got the permanent job

experience while they are still in school

out of it.”

White completed the paralegal program at

and try to carry that experience over into

UCLA Extension in 1977 and went on to work

full-time jobs.

White went on to attend Loyola Law School in Los Angeles after getting her feet wet

as a paralegal at Loeb & Loeb for a year and a half. She said the skills she learned

“My advice would be to take an opportunity

in the legal field as a paralegal. After

as a paralegal student and as a working

to participate in whatever internships

graduation in 1981, she practiced law until

paralegal have helped her greatly as both a

are offered so as to just get out there

she was appointed to the bench by Governor

lawyer and a judge.

and meet people and look at the different

Wilson in 1997.

environments-whether it’s a law firm, “I don’t think I would’ve become a judge

whether it’s working for government-but

White applied for the judge position for two

had I not been a good litigator, and I don’t

don’t be afraid to have an unpaid internship

main reasons: she wanted to play a different

think I would’ve been a good litigator had

for a month or two and then try to transition

role in the legal process, and she wanted to

I not learned the organizational skills in

that into something that pays,” she said.

have more freedom in her schedule.

the paralegal program and working as a

Advice to Young Lawyers

“I wanted to see what it was like, as opposed

but being able to find it-having key pieces of

Judge Elizabeth White thinks

observer but still playing a very active role,”

evidence at your disposal and organized in

paralegal training can be

she said. “I had been doing significant

such a fashion that you can present them at

extremely beneficial to someone

numbers of trials, and so the demands on my

the appropriate time.”

thinking of pursuing a career as

time were very, very high; and I had a small

paralegal,” she said. “The key to success in litigation is not only presenting the document

She thinks paralegal training can be extremely beneficial to someone thinking of pursuing a career as an attorney. “I think it’s a good way to test the waters, a)

an attorney. “I think it’s a good way to test the waters, a) so that you know whether you like the field and b)

so that you know whether you like the field

to get the kind of nuts and bolts

and b) to get the kind of nuts and bolts skills

skills that most people don’t get

that most people don’t get in law school so

in law school so that you become

that you become a better lawyer once you’re

a better lawyer once you’re

licensed,” she said.

PAGE 

licensed,” she said.

to being an advocate, being a more neutral

child, so I wanted to find a way to be able to stay in the courtroom but not have to do all of the homework that was involved.” Even though she admits there are challenges to being a judge, such as dealing with cases that are emotionally draining, White enjoys her job and her new role in the courtroom. “I love the theater of the courtroom,” she said. “I love a good case when it’s well presented. I love to be able to ensure that

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the proceedings are fair, make the litigants

“I think that’s a good thing if people can

feel like they’ve been heard, let them have

resolve their differences and move on with

their day in court. I like participating in the

their lives and not get entrenched in the

Loeb & Loeb

resolution process when asked-in other

process, but I don’t think that we need

www.loeb.com/Home.aspx

words, trying to resolve it so that somebody

to go so far as to say that trials are not

doesn’t have to put all the time and money

necessary,” she said. “Obviously, they are

UCLA Extension

into trying a case if they’re more inclined to

necessary. Not everything can be resolved,

www.uclaextension.edu/

try and resolve it.”

and so judges need to be cognizant of the fact that you’re not going to be able to

Loyola Law School

White said she feels that recently there has

settle every case. And some cases do have

www.lls.edu/

been a trend toward the resolution of cases

to go to trial.”

instead of the trial of cases, and she thinks it’s a positive thing.

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Hon. Elizabeth White: Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles  

Elizabeth White completed paralegal program, as paralegal white worked in civil litigation.

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