LOS ANGELES, Calif. – James Gilliam, an award-winning attorney who has extensive experience working pro bono on a wide variety of civil rights, immigration, homelessness and LGBT issues, has been named deputy executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, ACLU/SC Executive Director Ramona Ripston announced today.
“I’m delighted that James has agreed to join the staff of the ACLU of Southern California, deepening his ties to our organization, where he has served as a board member since 2005 and affirmative action officer since 2008,” Ripston said. “We’re well aware of his passion, his dedication and his intellect, and we know those things will continue to serve him and us well in his new role as deputy executive director.”
Gilliam, who begins his new duties today, comes to the ACLU/SC from the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker LLP, where he served as a litigation associate and associate pro bono coordinator. In the latter role, he worked closely with ACLU/SC attorneys on a successful lawsuit challenging conditions under which immigrants were detained in downtown Los Angeles, and on the legal effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8, among other cases.
"During his time at Paul Hastings, James continually demonstrated his tireless commitment to serving the community through his pro bono work on a variety of civil rights and social issues, and we wish him well as he embarks on the next stage of his career," said Anton Mack, Managing Director--Global Talent for Paul Hastings. "We are proud that James is joining an organization that we have long considered an important pro bono partner for Paul Hastings and we look forward to working with him on future cases."
Gilliam said he’s excited to be working for the ACLU/SC in part because of the wide variety of civil rights and civil liberties issues that the organization pursues through its education, advocacy and litigation efforts. “It’s amazing to see an organization that is not only active but effective in so many areas,” he said. “For example, the ACLU of Southern California got a lot of attention, and rightfully so, for its work on free speech, immigration and homelessness over the last year. But it also took on several key LGBT cases in this region during the same period. One thing I hope to do is to help raise awareness of that and some of the other lesser-known but important work that we do.”
Gilliam has a B.S. in sociology/social welfare policy from Middle Tennessee State University, where he graduated in 2000 as valedictorian of his class. He obtained his J.D. from Loyola Law School in 2003, Order of the Coif, and worked for the Hon. Harry Pregerson of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2007 he became the most junior attorney ever to receive Loyola’s Pro Bono Alumni of the Year Award for his work at Paul Hastings. He is chairman of the Sexual Orientation Bias Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and is on the board of the National LGBT Bar Association. He teaches public interest law, and sexual orientation and the law, at Loyola Law School.
At the ACLU/SC, Gilliam will work under the supervision of Ripston, who has been executive director for 38 years and has built the organization into a multi-faceted nonprofit with nearly 50 employees, including a powerful legal team as well as Field, Development and Communications departments. Gilliam will help manage day-to-day operations and will work on policy with the Field and Legal departments.