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Pittsburgh Lawyer Anne L. Belger to be Honored by Pennsylvania Bar Association

HARRISBURG (June 4, 2007) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Commission on Women in the Profession will present the Anne X. Alpern Award to Ann L. Begler, founder and principal of the Begler Group, Pittsburgh, during its 14th annual conference June 21 at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel. The award will be presented at a noon luncheon, which will feature keynote speaker Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International and author of Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam and The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope.

The annual Anne X. Alpern Award is presented to a female lawyer or judge who demonstrates excellence in the legal profession and who makes a significant professional impact on women in the law. Established in 1994, the award was named for Anne X. Alpern, who was Pennsylvania's attorney general in 1959 and the first woman state attorney general in the nation.

"Ann is a wonderful mentor to both young and 'seasoned' lawyers alike - women and men - who look to her for inspiration, and she reminds us that we can always do more to fight injustice and ensure equal opportunities for everyone," lawyers Roberta D. Liebenberg and Lynn A. Marks wrote in their nomination of Begler.

"By the persuasive force of her personality, Ann has encouraged women to search, to reach and to accomplish," wrote retired Judge Phyllis W. Beck of the Pennsylvania Superior Court in support of Begler's nomination. "She has helped innumerable individual women and women's organizations achieve success."

For more than 30 years, Begler has been an advocate for victims of sexual violence.

"As a young pro bono attorney for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, Ann prepared a brief and argued a landmark appeals case before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that led to the establishment of an absolute confidentiality privilege between a crisis advocate and sexual assault victim - a first in the nation," wrote Delilah Rumburg, executive director, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Rumburg also applauded Begler for her efforts in the Commonwealth v. Berkowitz case, which ultimately lead to the passage of the "No Means No" law and an overhaul of Pennsylvania's sexual assault statutes.

"Ann is a giant among us," wrote Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer. "She works to right wrongs, achieve justice and to do both with as much humanity and humility as is imaginable."

"If you are hoping to honor a woman lawyer who has made a difference to generations of women lawyers and has made this difference through legal talent, mentoring and selfless commitment, then Ann Begler is indeed the worthiest of candidates," wrote Judge Thomas M. Golden, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and former PBA president.

Active in the Pennsylvania Bar Association since her graduation from law school, Begler is a founding member and current co-chair of the PBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. Begler facilitated the PBA Commission on Women in the Profession's first retreat and has served on the commission's executive committee. As former chair of the PBA Equal Rights Committee, she secured funds to partner with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to conduct a gender bias study, which culminated in the court's creation of the Committee on Racial and Gender Bias and the later formation of the Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness.

Since 1994, she has served in the PBA House of Delegates for Zone 12 (Allegheny County). From 1997 to 2000, she also served on the PBA Board of Governors representing the same zone. In addition, she has been active with the PBA Family Law Section, Health Law Committee and the Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, among others.

Begler has supported a number of the Allegheny County Bar Association's committees and sections, including its Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Family Law Section. She also is active in several sections of the American Bar Association.

Begler is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University School of Law.

Her firm, the Begler Group, provides mediation, advanced facilitation and organization change management services. Begler is also of counsel to the Pittsburgh law firm of Frank, Bails, Murcko, Gubinsky and Gale P.C. She has written frequently about mediation for professional publications and also has lectured on the subject before other lawyers.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 29,000 lawyers who are members of the association.