Ruthe Catolico Ashley, Executive Director Emeritus of California LAW, incorporated this new non-profit as the foundational structure that will connect, collaborate, coordinate and communicate between the existing pipeline programs in the State of California. California LAW supports the 22 existing high school law academies, 27 community colleges, 8 undergraduate institutions and 8 law schools who are partners in this project to diversify the legal profession in the State of California through the educational pipeline. As former chair of the California Law Academy Support Council, she has dedicated the last decade to diversity in the legal profession. In 2010, under Ashley’s leadership, a collaborative effort of the State Bar of California and the California Department of Education created 6 new high school law academies in California under the California Partnership Academy Model. These law academies were the first “boots on the ground” program focused on diversifying the legal profession starting in 10th grade. Ashley was responsible for overseeing the success of these law academies and continues to nurture and build new academies. Twenty-two law academies are now in existence with four more in planning.
Ashley is considered the Pipeline Guru for the legal profession in California. As the Chair of the Diversity Pipeline Task Force for the State Bar of California in 2007, her efforts jump-started the pipeline work in this state. After the sunsetting of the Task Force, Ashley founded and created the Council on Access and Fairness with the State Bar of California which became a leader in legal diversity across the nation. She was also the first President/CEO of California ALL, and the first Executive Director of California LAW, two non-profit organizations with a mission to diversify the legal profession. In numerous areas, Ashley has broken barriers for women, women of color and Filipinas in leadership statewide and nationally for the legal profession.
Ashley, the current chair of the Standing Committee on Public Education for the American Bar Association (ABA), was elected to a 3-yr term on the ABA’s Board of Governors in 2014 and is the first Filipina and 2nd Asian Pacific American women on the ABA’s board in its 140-year history. She chaired the Public Service & Diversity Committee for the board and led the restructuring of the Diversity Center and Goal III entities for the ABA in 2017. She co-chaired the Women of Color committee for the prestigious Commission on Women in the Profession and served as chair of the Council on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. She served on the State Bar of California’s Board of Trustees from 2004-2007 chairing the Diversity Pipeline Task Force and leading the BOT in forming the Council on Access and Fairness, one of today’s leaders in legal diversity.
She is a past president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association receiving its Trailblazer Award in 1998. She has held leadership roles in the legal profession and community organizations. The recipient of numerous awards including a Special Diversity Award from the State Bar of California (2010) and the Francis Newell Carr Women Lawyers if Distinction Award from Women Lawyers of Sacramento (2011), Trailblazer awards from the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California and the Philippine American Bar Association of Los Angeles (2018). She graduated from Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 1988 and practiced law for 15 years before returning to her alma mater as Assistant Dean of Career Services. Now retired, she devotes her time to diversity in the legal profession in the local, statewide and national arena. She considers her passion and mission to change the face of the legal profession to reflect the population that it serves.