Juvenile Defender Jan Lecklikner Named CPDA Defender of the Year

Congratulations to Jan Lecklikner from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office on being the first ever practicing juvenile defender to receive “Defender of The Year” Award from the California Public Defender’s Association (CPDA) for 2011.  The award is also remarkable because Jan used her acceptance speech to recruit veteran public defenders to come to work in juvenile court.  She called juvenile practice the “highest calling of any aspect of our profession.”  She spoke of juvenile work as a way to bring passion into defense practice, and of the increasingly high stakes for juvenile cases (strikes, registration, etc.).  She chided those who think juvenile practice is easier, pointing out that it is much harder to convince a judge than a jury, and noting that juvenile attorneys must do all of the investigation and use of experts required in adult court, but in a much more compressed time frame. Jan noted that in juvenile court you get to work with your heart, and you get to make a difference in young people’s lives. She closed by encouraging the “O.G.s” in the audience to consider coming to work in juvenile court.  The 2011 award was presented at the 42nd Annual Convention of the California Public Defenders Association (CPDA) on April 29, 2011, in San Jose, California.  A video of Jan’s acceptance speech is on the CPDA web site.   Here is the San Francisco Public Defender press release, with more information about Jan’s background. 


San Francisco, CA — Jan Lecklikner, a longtime San Francisco public defender in the office’s juvenile unit, has been named Defender of the Year by the California Public Defenders Association.

Lecklikner will receive her award today at CPDA’s 42nd Annual Convention and Training Program in San Jose. Each year, organizers select one public defender or private defense attorney to receive the award based on a recent accomplishment, or in Lecklikner’s case, her body of work.

“We are so proud that Jan Lecklikner was selected to receive the prestigious Defender of the Year award,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi today. “She has helped thousands of people over the years and is an inspiration and a mentor to our lawyers and staff.”

Lecklikner, a public defender for 32 years, has worked at the San Francisco Public Defender’s office since 1984, and in its juvenile division for approximately six years.

Lecklikner said she was honored to be recognized by other public defenders across the state.

 “It is an honor to be recognized as a ‘trench lawyer,’ one who tries that single rock of cocaine case, investigates probation violations, advocates for juveniles – all the work that never makes it to the newspapers but matters in the life of the individual client,” she said.

“Public Defenders are the backbone of the criminal justice system.  The constitution remains strong and protected because of the daily work we do, in every late night effort, in every resistance to the dehumanization of real people with hopes and dreams of their own.”

Before being hired at the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, Lecklikner worked as a public defender in Contra Costa and San Diego counties. She earned her bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science from the University of California, Davis in 1972 and her law degree from Golden Gate University in 1978.

She is the co-founder of Women Defenders, an organization of women criminal defense attorneys and past president of Criminal Trial Lawyers Association of Northern California.