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108. Pathways to the Bench: How to Become a Judge

DATE: Thursday, July 20, 2017      TIME: 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
LOCATION: USPTO, 1st floor, California Room

Is becoming a judge a lifelong dream of yours? This program is designed to inform lawyers and law students about the paths, elective and appointive, to becoming a judge.  APA Justices will describe their paths to the bench and the obstacles they faced along the way.

Some issues to discuss will include the following:

  • What are the challenges faced as a judge?
  • Merit vs. political selection
  • Tips on the application process
  • What is the judiciary doing to increase diversity on the bench?  Panelists will address statistics in CA state and Washington state.
  • What methods are used most frequently to select minority judges for state courts?

No CLE credit will be provided for this panel.


Gene Woo

Staff Attorney, California Department of Insurance


Gene Woo has been employed by the California Department of Insurance as a staff attorney since December 2000. At the Department, he has been responsible for reviewing policy forms concerning Long Term Care insurance and Variable Annuity and Life insurance products.  He has also worked on Qui Tam litigation on behalf of the Department and represented the Department in litigation against Sutter Health, concerning improper billing for anesthesia services,  that resulted in a $46 million settlement.  He is assists the Department’s Fraud Division in administering fraud grant programs in the Auto, Urban Auto, and Health and Disability insurance areas.  These programs are funded by assessments on insurance policies. 

He is a 1979 graduate with honors of the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and Economics.  He obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis School of Law in 1985.  While at Davis, he had an opportunity to study with the future Mayor of Sacramento, Darrel Steinberg, and the future Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

He has served as board member and treasurer for the Asian American Bar Association for the Greater Bay Area.  He has also served as a Regional Governor and Secretary for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.  He also acted as the chair of the NAPABA Affiliate of the Year award committee.


Judge, California Superior Court

Judge Delbert Gee

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The Honorable Delbert C. Gee has been a Judge of the Superior Court of California in Alameda County since 2002. He currently presides over a criminal collaborative court and drug court in Oakland. Judge Gee previously handled civil trials, law and motion, and case management in a direct civil calendar department in Alameda and Hayward, and presided over criminal felony, misdemeanor, and drug court cases, and civil case management, settlement conferences, and law and motion hearings in Oakland, Alameda, and Hayward, and juvenile dependency and delinquency cases in Hayward, and was formerly the supervising judge in Alameda and a member of the Court's executive committee. He is one of eight active Asian American Superior Court judges in Alameda County. In 2010, Judge Gee was presented with the Judicial Distinguished Service Award by the Alameda County Bar Association.

Judge Gee began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney in Ventura County and then spent the next 20 years in private practice in San Francisco as an associate with Hassard, Bonnington, Rogers & Huber and with Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon, and later as a partner with Sturgeon, Keller, Phillips, Gee & O'Leary PC and with the Pacific West Law Group LLP, specializing in health care law and insurance coverage litigation. He graduated from the University of California, Davis in 1977 and from Santa Clara University School of Law in December 1979 where he was an associate editor of the Santa Clara Law Review. Judge Gee was born and raised in Alameda County and has been active for many years in numerous professional, civic and service organizations in the Bay Area.

Judge, Washington Court of Appeals

Judge Linda Lee

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Judge Linda CJ Lee was appointed to the Court of Appeals on December 20, 2013 by Governor Jay Inslee. Prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Lee served for almost 10 years as a judge on the Pierce County Superior Court.

Before becoming a Superior Court Judge, Judge Lee was a partner at the law firm Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, Malanca, Peterson & Daheim, LLP. Her primary areas of practice included complex commercial litigation, representing health care providers, insurance defense, and litigation on behalf of both the public and private sectors in obtaining insurance coverage for liabilities and losses.

Judge Lee received her Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is admitted to both the Hawaii bar and Washington bar.

Judge Lee's commitment to the community continues to be a major focus in her life. She works on behalf of the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation to build a waterfront Chinese garden in Tacoma dedicated to reconciling the expulsion of the Chinese from the City of Tacoma in 1885. She has participated in the annual Pierce County Minority Bar Association's Youth and Law Forum and had done so since its inception in 1999. Prior to becoming a judge, she served as a volunteer mediator for the Pierce County Dispute Resolution Center and served on the Boards of the Corporate Council for the Arts Pierce County Committee, the Tacoma World Trade Center, the Bates Technical College Foundation, and the Asian Bar Association of Washington. She continues to mentor students interested in or are currently attending law school.