Julie A. Su is a nationally recognized expert on workers’ rights and civil rights who has dedicated her distinguished legal career to advancing justice on behalf of poor and disenfranchised communities. A MacArthur Foundation “Genius, Award” recipient, Su was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and assumed the position of California Labor Commissioner in April 2011, overseeing over 400 staff in 18 offices across the state. A recent report on the status of her agency, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, demonstrated that her first two years in office have brought a renaissance in enforcement activity and the most robust labor law enforcement in the Division’s history.
Prior to her appointment, Su served as the Litigation Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the nation’s largest non-profit civil rights organization devoted to issues affecting the Asian American community. In her 17 years as a civil rights lawyer, Su and APALC brought landmark lawsuits on behalf of low-wage workers in the underground economy, advocated successfully for protection of immigrant workers that paved the way for federal legislation protecting immigrant victims of crime, and initiated grassroots campaigns against sweatshop abuses. Su and APALC also litigated cases on behalf of Asian Americans, African Americans and Latinos to challenge discrimination in education and employment.
Her numerous awards include the Reebok International Human Rights Award (1996); one of four “Pioneers in Women’s History” in an official proclamation by President Williams Jefferson Clinton (1997); and the Gruber Foundation International Women’s Rights Prize (2006). Frequently named to top- lawyer lists such as the Daily Journal’s “Top 75 Women Litigators” in California and California Lawyer’s “Super Lawyers,” she was the first Labor Commissioner to be included among the Daily Journal’s “Top 75 Labor and Employment Lawyers” and has also been named one of the 50 most noteworthy women alumni of Harvard Law School and one of the 100 most “influential” people in Los Angeles in Los Angeles Magazine.
Su has taught at UCLA Law School and Northeastern Law School. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School and began her career with a Skadden Fellowship. Su speaks Mandarin and Spanish.
Julie is a CSF Life Member and graduate of Whitney High School, the site of the 2014 Advisers’ Convention.