Project Description

Jill Klein on Clara Shortridge Foltz

Jill Klein tells us about the amazing Clara Shortridge Foltz, first female attorney in California and creator of the American Public Defender program. Clara’s mind-blowing career begins with her struggles as a single mother of five determined to become a lawyer, moves through her successful efforts to change laws for women’s rights and concludes with her historic run for California Governor at the sprightly age of 81. She now has the largest Criminal Courthouse in our country named after her. Enjoy Jill’s take on one of the most inspiring founding mothers of our legal system.


Director: Julie Hébert
DP: Kim Culotta
Producer/Sound: Courtney Graham
Co-Producer/Interviewee: Jill Klein
PA: Sarah Michelle Witt
Editors: Farrel Levy, Franzis Muller

More About…

Jill Klein


Jill C. Klein: actor; designer; mentor; director; writer; girl-who-was-bat mitzvahed; singer; dancer; aunt; coach; costumer; bad pianist; editor; been to Turkey; grew-up-in-Jersey; seems to be thick-skinned but actually a mushball; painter; cohort with Julie for Look What She Did; currently teaching playwriting classes and debate classes to high school kids; and an identical twin.

Clara Shortridge Foltz


Clara Shortridge Foltz was the first female lawyer on the West Coast, and pioneered the idea of the public defender. The Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles was renamed after her in 2002, and is now known as the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Book: “Woman Lawyer: The Trails of Clara Foltz” by Barbara Babcock (Stanford University Press). Photo of Clara Shortridge Foltz by I.W. Taber, UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library, gift of L.G. LaBurdette.