The Oregon Area Jewish Committee’s 2014 Judge Learned Hand Award committee
presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Lisa Kaner of Markowitz Herbold Glade & Melhaf,
PC, and its Community Leadership Award to Amy Edwards of Stoel Rives, LLP.
In addition to being admirable role models as legal professionals who successfully balance career, family and community, both women also have taken significant steps to ensure that women lawyers have the skills they need to succeed.
In 2014, Kaner and fellow Markowitz Herbold shareholder Renée Rothauge founded the Rothauge & Kaner Women’s Trial Academy. Sponsored by Oregon Women Lawyers, the academy is the first in Oregon to focus on building trial skills of women litigators.
Edwards is a founding board member of Emerge Oregon, which seeks to increase the representation of women in public office by providing a comprehensive training program for Democratic women. Since its founding in early 2009, Emerge Oregon has trained over 100 women to run for public office and includes among its elected alumnae six members of the Oregon House. She also chairs the Stoel Rives Parenting Circle, which provides mentoring opportunities for lawyers who are or will be parents of young children.
Introducing Kaner at the OAJC awards lunch, David Markowitz said he met her when Judge Owen Panner called in 1988 and told him he was sending over the best law clerk he’d ever had so that Markowitz could meet his new lawyer. “Lisa Kaner arrived and thankfully she was the perfect match,” said Markowitz.
Over the past decade, Lisa has obtained multimillion dollar judgments and settlements and defeated like-sized claims. Markowitz ticked off several cases including recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars the Public Employee Retirement Fund had lost to fraudulent activity.
Kaner was also lead counsel in the six-year legal battle that eventually allowed the Oregon Holocaust Memorial to be built in Washington Park. Kaner has been deeply involved as a volunteer with Holocaust-related projects in the state. In 2002, she co-chaired a coalition to bring to Portland the international exhibit, Anne Frank: A History for Today, which was visited by more than 60,000 people. Earlier this year she assisted the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center in its recent merger with the Oregon Jewish Museum.
Asked how she suggests other women balance career, family and community activities, she says, “Focus, be present and don’t stretch yourself too thin. Allow yourself one professional organization and one nonprofessional organization, and always do what you say you will do.”
Kaner has been a member of Congregation Neveh Shalom for more than 20 years. She has two children: Zoe Edelson, 18, a student at Lincoln High School, and Jordan Edelson, 20, a student at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. Her parents, Betty and Larry Kaner, and partner, Peter Glade, attended the awards luncheon.
A partner in the litigation group at Stoel Rives, LLP, Amy Edwards represents clients in complex commercial disputes;
trust, estate and fiduciary litigation; and real property disputes in both federal and state courts. A 2001 law school graduate, Edwards came into the field when she had some female mentors to emulate.
“I went to law school at a time when women graduating were slightly more than half (of the students),” Edwards says, whose parents, Jay and Jane Edwards, are both attorneys. “I look at women in my firm and my community. But we are not nearly done. We are largely starting in equal numbers, but … (the numbers of women) who make partner are way down. … Part of that is the demands of life,” which is why Edwards says she started the parenting circle at her firm.
Committed to providing legal services to low-income and disenfranchised people, she serves on the boards of Legal Aid Services of Oregon and the Oregon Law Center, and is a prior member of the Oregon State Bar’s Legal Service’s Program Committee. Though she is not Jewish, the values of the OAJC and Judge Hand ring true with Edwards.
“As lawyers we are by training both particularly suited to solve problems and willing to question the societal and governmental barriers to equality and justice,” she said in accepting her award. She says she is moved by a 1944 speech by Judge Hand in which he said, “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women … and weighs their interests alongside its own without bias.”