Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Brenda G. English '79

Brenda English

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney

B.A. Speech, California State University, Los Angeles

Bringing together crime prevention, law enforcement and community relations

Brenda English joined the District Attorney's Office as a means of gaining a range of experience. "The District Attorney's Office is a wonderful launching pad because you gain so much trial experience," English said. "You learn how to be quick on your feet." She has served in Compton, Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. "In the D.A.'s office, you have the opportunity to work in various places and explore many areas of law," she continued. "You really become a member of the different communities. It's always exciting work."

Currently, English is assigned to the Child Abduction Section. She also frequently serves as calendar deputy, determining sentencing and negotiating plea bargains. But among her most fulfilling assignments was a stint in crime prevention that took her into the community to work with young people and their parents.

"We developed an exciting truancy program that helps parents take an active role in getting their kids back in school." English said. "It has become a model for the nation that has been featured on many TV shows, including the CBS and NBC network news, PBS' Life and Times, the Los Angeles Times and other print media. It has been a favorite part of my work because it helps so many."

English's leadership in the truancy program brought her widespread recognition by government, law enforcement and education organizations, leading to an appointment to the Attorney General’s Violence Prevention Committee and her selection as a Consultant to California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A former teacher, English is a second generation Southwestern graduate who was inspired to study law by her father Herman English '51, a leading mentor of African American attorneys when mainline law firms were closed to them. "Southwestern teaches you how to be an effective lawyer. That takes more than just legal knowledge; it requires life skills and knowing how to work with people. Without these skills, you are not equipped to practice law," English said.