Fighting for Women's Equality

Joy Kruse Gender Justice Memorial Fund

June 23, 2018 | by

Equal Rights Advocates is honored to announce the formation of the Joy Kruse Gender Justice Memorial Fund to honor the memory of an extraordinary lawyer, treasured ERA leader, and friend to many. Equal Rights Advocates is accepting donations to the fund, which will support our work of advancing and protecting the rights and opportunities of women and girls at work and school. Click here to donate.

Joy served on ERA’s Board of Directors and Litigation Committee from 2010 to 2016, during which she provided invaluable guidance to ERA’s gender justice programs, including its impact litigation defending the rights of women in low-wage industries. Joy lent to Equal Rights Advocates her considerable expertise and experience as an accomplished law partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, where she litigated class, group, and individual actions on behalf of consumers, investors, and employees. At Lieff Cabraser, Joy also led by example in the area of pro bono civil rights representation, including on behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison, who challenged the inhumane use of solitary confinement and unconstitutional policy of gang validation. A graduate of Wellesley College (Phi Beta Kappa), and Harvard Law School, Joy was most inspired to serve those in society of greatest need but who often could not afford legal services.

Joy spent eight of her first eleven years of practice as a public defender, starting at the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., and later as a federal public defender in San Jose, where she tried countless cases on behalf of impoverished defendants. In between those jobs, she moved west for private practice with Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. After her second stint as a public defender, she spent four years in private practice with Topal and Goodman, specializing in white-collar defense and serving by appointment of the Northern District to represent impoverished criminal defendants at trial. She spent the last 17 years of her distinguished career as a partner and senior leader at Lieff, Cabraser. Joy’s substantial success and high regard in the legal community earned her numerous accolades, including being named a “California Litigation Star,” by Benchmark Litigation in 2016.

Joy was a tremendous friend and mentor, passionate feminist, avid dog lover, consumer and wry critic of both high- and low-brow culture, and someone who found great restoration in natural beauty.

Joy Kruse passed away on May 22, 2018, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. She leaves a community that loved her deeply, a legacy of impressive legal accomplishments, and Equal Rights Advocates much stronger because of her dedication and leadership.

Joy continually urged Equal Rights Advocates to run toward the hardest cases to help women and girls most in need. Equal Rights Advocates is humbled by the establishment of this fund by Joy’s beloved friends and colleagues that allows us to do just that in her honor.

Secure, tax-deductible donations to the Joy Kruse Gender Justice Memorial Fund may be made at

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