UCLA School of Law Celebrates 2012 Alumni of the Year Honorees

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Lauri Gavel
Executive Director of Communications
UCLA School of Law
(310) 206-2611

UCLA School of Law Celebrates 2012 Alumni of the Year Honorees


Melanie Cook ’78 to be Recognized for Professional Achievement and

Ronald L. Brown ’79 for Public and Community Service


Los Angeles, May 15, 2012 – The UCLA School of Law is proud to announce the recipients of its 2012 Alumni of the Year Awards. Melanie Cook ’78 is the honoree for Professional Achievement, and Ronald L. Brown ’79 is the honoree for Public and Community Service. The awards will be presented at the annual Alumni of the Year Luncheon, which kicks off the school’s reunion events, on Friday, May 18, 2012, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif.

“The achievements of our alumni bring immeasurable honor to the school and give our students benchmarks for their own careers,” said Rachel F. Moran, dean of UCLA School of Law and Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law. “It is a privilege to pay tribute to Melanie and Ron, two of our most accomplished alumni, who have used their law degrees to benefit our profession and our community. We are very proud of their commitment to excellence. They truly embody the spirit of our school.”
About Melanie Cook
Melanie Cook ’78 is a partner at the entertainment law firm of Ziffren Brittenham LLP, where she specializes in representing actors, writers, directors and producers. In 1997, she was the first woman honored as Entertainment Lawyer of the Year by the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and she is frequently included on Hollywood “power lists.”

Cook was originally a dance major but earned her undergraduate degree at UCLA in independent studies, which incorporated her passion for the arts and communications. While attending law school, she was the book review editor of the UCLA Law Review and won the Nathan Burkan Award for her article, “Moving to a New Beat: Copyright Protection for Choreographic Works.” She is currently a member of UCLA Law’s board of advisors and a member of the campaign cabinet. She also serves on the board of The Painted Turtle, the West Coast sister camp to the Boggy Creek Gang Camp founded by Paul Newman, which offers camping experiences to chronically and seriously ill children. She is active with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Big Sister Scholarship Fund. She is a founding member of Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity and a committee member for the annual Power Women Power Tools Build.

About Ronald L. Brown
Ronald L. Brown ’79 is chief of the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office. Sworn into the office in 2011 after 30 years of service, he is only the 10th person and the first African-American to head the office since its establishment in 1914. He leads more than 700 attorneys and an extensive support staff, all dedicated to the representation of indigent clients.

Brown appreciated the help given to his family by the county while he was growing up and determined that he would give back through public service. He has represented thousands of persons during his career and personally tried more than 180 misdemeanor and felony matters. Before his promotion to public defender in 2011, he was assistant public defender for branch and area operations. Brown not only worked to defend his clients but sought to improve and diversify the Public Defender’s Office through recruitment and mentoring, recommending more than 300 of the attorneys presently employed by the office. He was a long-time member of the Public Defender’s Resource Advisory Group, he has participated in various interagency groups, and he has served as liaison with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

About the UCLA School of Law Alumni of the Year Awards
Established in 1962, the Alumni of the Year Awards honor the extraordinary achievements of UCLA Law alumni. The award for Professional Achievement recognizes distinguished career accomplishments and contributions made to the profession. Recent past recipients include David Steiner ’86, John Branca ’75 and Nancy Abell ’79. The award for Public and Community Service recognizes leadership, philanthropy and a commitment to public service. Recent past recipients include the Honorable Sandra Segal Ikuta ’88, David Fleming ’59 and Lowell Milken ’73.

About UCLA School of Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest major law school in the nation and has established a tradition of innovation in its approach to teaching, research and scholarship. With approximately 100 faculty and 970 students, the school pioneered clinical teaching, is a leader in interdisciplinary research and training and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to meaningful change in society and the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.law.ucla.edu.

For photo of Cook, please click here.
For photo of Brown, please click here.