Honorable Tamila Ebrahimi Ipema

The Iranian-American Bar Association, San Diego Chapter, is pleased to announce the Honorable Tamila Ebrahimi Ipema as its Member of the Month for September 2017.

Judge Ipema, simply put, is a pillar of the Iranian American community, having paved a road of judicial achievement for all future Iranian American legal scholars and practitioners that have followed her. Judge Ipema was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, receiving her undergraduate education in English Literature from Damavand College in Tehran in 1978. Soon after, in August 1978, Judge Ipema embarked on her journey to further her education, and ultimately her legal career, as she received a Master’s degree in Humanities and English in 1985, her J.D. in 1988 from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and her LL.M. degree in from Georgetown University in 1994.

Judge Ipema hit the ground running after being sworn in as an attorney, as she immediately pursued a challenging practice as an immigration defense attorney before accepting a position with the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant District Counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, serving as a trial attorney in various urban areas for five years. From 2000 to 2005, Judge Ipema served as a judicial research attorney, and also as a supervising research attorney for the Los Angeles Superior Court.

In 2005, Judge Ipema took on her first role as judicial officer, as she was appointed Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner, presiding over small claims, traffic, misdemeanor, unlawful detainer, and family law matters in Los Angeles County. In 2008, Judge Ipema became a member of our San Diego legal community, accepting her appointment as San Diego Superior Court Commissioner. Finally, in 2009, Judge Ipema was appointed by then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the position of Judge of the San Diego Superior Court, a position she admirably holds to this day.

Judge Ipema has never shied away from her roots, having remained a staunch supporter of the IABA-San Diego Chapter since its inception. She has often lent her time to speak to members on benefits of joining the organization, as well as humbly making herself available as a mentor for young legal minds. Judge Ipema fondly recalls, “I attended the very first IABA chapter meeting in San Diego and have been a proud member ever since. I have met some of the most intelligent, educated, ethical, hard working, accomplished, and warm people at IABA events and educational programs and similarly learned from them. My involvement in this amazing organization has truly had a positive impact on my life. I am very proud to see that IABA has taken a leadership role and is an inclusive minority bar organization that actively collaborates with various other minority bars, the San Diego County Bar Association, and non-profit organizations to sponsor diversity events and educational programs.”

On the efforts of IABA to impact the community, Judge Ipema continues, “IABA gives more visibility to our outstanding members who are making a difference in our community, reduces the negative stereotypes that might exist, and helps us learn from other legal organizations and grow. The increased visibility puts a spotlight on the organization as well as its members, showcasing their wonderful work in the community.”

It is well-known that Judge Ipema is a revered figure to local Iranian American attorneys for her ongoing success as a judicial officer; however, Judge Ipema’s true ambitions are to extend those opportunities to the next generation, as she earnestly comments, “My hope is that our members will continue to shine in our legal community through providing outstanding ethical and professional service with the utmost integrity. I further hope that by working hard, maintaining a great reputation for honesty, and providing continuous community service, our members could be recognized as worthy applicants for future judicial appointments. Having judges from diverse cultural background enhances the trust and confidence in our justice system. It is extremely important for immigrants to see one of their own on the bench. I hope, when time comes, our qualified Iranian American members will decide to serve our justice system as judicial officers.”

As for advice Judge Ipema can impart on those seeking to follow in her footsteps, Judge Ipema wisely states, “be honest and a conduct yourself with the utmost of integrity. Guard your reputation with your life. Be civil to your opponent in court and don’t ever burn a bridge. Once you become an attorney you will be an officer of the court and you owe a duty of candor and respect to the justice system and your clients. Never put your professional reputation on line to win a client’s case. No money in this world is worth you losing your good reputation.”

Please take a moment to congratulate Judge Ipema on her honor as Member of the Month for September 2017, as we encourage you to seek her out at the next general meeting, mixer or bar association event for honest, practical advice on reaching the next level in your legal career and how to balance that with your personal life.

Past Member of the Months

Member of the Month Nominations

Every month IABA San Diego will recognize one of its members for his/her commitment to IABA San Diego and/or the Iranian-American community. The selected member’s biographical information will be highlighted on IABA SD’s website and in its monthly newsletter. If you would like to nominate an IABA SD member to become member of the month, please contact us at sandiego@iaba.us