Laura V. Farber

Laura V. Farber: Champion of Tolerance and Diversity

By Brian Melendez


The story that the résumé tells is only the iceberg’s tip. From her résumé, one learns that Laura Farber is a partner with the law firm Hahn & Hahn in Pasadena, California; that she has served the ABA Young Lawyers Division in many volunteer roles over the past several years, ending up as its 68th Chair; and that she now represents the Division in the ABA House of Delegates, while she makes her new bar home in the General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division.

But what the résumé will not tell you is what her friends will: Laura Farber is a leader with more heart and less ego than one usually finds in someone with her list of personal accomplishments and organizational successes. That fact has served her, and the bar, well.

Throughout her career, Laura has championed the cause of tolerance and diversity. Chairing the Young Lawyers Division, her administration’s theme focused on “Tolerance Through Education”—a public-service project that sent lawyers into classrooms in order to help grade-school students embrace racial and ethnic diversity and tolerance. Her administration also designed the Division’s first diversity plan, which has been adopted both at the national level and by numerous local young-lawyer organizations around the nation. She also served as the young-lawyer liaison to the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

Laura’s contributions have not gone unnoticed outside young-lawyer circles. The Los Angeles Business Journal named her as one of the top 50 women lawyers in Los Angeles. But perhaps her greatest accolade came earlier this year when the ABA Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Profession conferred upon her its prestigious Spirit of Excellence Award. The citation says of Laura that “throughout her bar association involvement, she has advocated and encouraged women and minority lawyers to reach for the top and to bring others along the way. . . . Ms. Farber’s commitment to diversity efforts is extraordinary.” Laura, the youngest recipient in the award’s history, joins a pantheon that includes ABA President-Elect (then-Justice) Dennis W. Archer, former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, and Washington Governor Gary Locke. With typical modesty, Laura attributed the award for her leadership to “recognition for the good works of the whole group” that she worked with when chairing the Young Lawyers Division.

Laura also participates in her community outside the bar association. She has been active in the Pasadena Educational Foundation (a community-based nonprofit organization that raises funds for major educational initiatives in the Pasadena Unified School District) and in the Young Women’s Christian Association. But perhaps her most visible community role is serving on the executive committee of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association—visible because, if you visit her at home, she will probably offer you a ride in her rose-themed minivan.

One other thing that the résumé won’t tell you is what matters to Laura most of all: being the loving spouse of her husband Tomas Lopez, and the doting mother of their six-year-old son Christopher and four-year-old daughter Jessica.

Brian Melendez is a partner practicing in business litigation at Faegre & Benson LLP in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He preceded Laura Farber chairing the ABA Young Lawyers Division, and is a former president of the Hennepin County Bar Association.
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