CORONA DEL MAR — Patricia Herzog, who argued a case before the California Supreme Court in 1982 that changed divorce settlements across the nation, was named Attorney of the Year on Monday by the Orange County Women Lawyers Assn.
Herzog, 71, argued in that landmark case that people who put their spouses through medical or law school have the right to share in the earnings of that career even if the couple divorce. The case, Sullivan vs. Sullivan, was reported on the network TV show "60 Minutes" and prompted legislation in California and New York.
"The concept is what blew everybody's mind," said Herzog, who recently retired.
In 1957, Herzog became the eighth woman to be accepted to the Orange County Bar. She was the first counsel to the Legal Aid Society in Santa Ana and set up a private practice in Corona del Mar in 1960.
In 1964, she ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for a state Senate seat. She is a founding member of the county chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"I've been outside the Establishment, you could say anti-Establishment, all my life," Herzog said of her career. "To me, it's an interesting and stimulating place to be."
The award to Herzog is the second in the history of the Orange County Women Lawyers Assn., which has 400 members.