Indian American attorney Firdaus Dordi, a former public defender and co-founder of the Dordi, Williams, Cohen law firm, has been appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Dordi is the nation’s first Zoroastrian judge, according to the South Asian Bar Association. He is the fifth South Asian state court judge in Los Angeles, Calif.
“I’m very thrilled to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity, serving the public to promote fairness,” Dordi, 46, told India-West.
“As an immigrant, I have always felt very fortunate in what my family and I have been given by this country. This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community,” he said, adding that he has focused his career on assisting people who would otherwise not have access to the legal system.
“I am fascinated by the principles of fairness in this country, and hope to ensure that the rule of law governs in every case,” he said.
On Jan. 18, Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Los Angeles chapter will honor Dordi with their annual award for pro bono work. Laboni Hoq, litigation director at AAAJ, told India-West: “I want to call this a lifetime achievement award for all of Firdaus’ pro bono assistance.”
“Firdaus will never say no, despite his busy schedule and family life,” said Hoq. “He is a lovely generous person: that definitely shows in his work.”
Dordi served as a public defender for more than 14 years in the Central District of California before establishing his firm in 2014. As a public defender, he would frequently reach out to AAAJ when his clients needed “wrap-around” services, noted Hoq.
The organization now reaches out to Dordi primarily for human trafficking cases, in which a victim is often caught up in being part of the criminal activity in the trafficking scheme. “He will always work through the tricky criminal issues with me,” said Hoq.
The South Asian Bar Association of Southern California Public Interest Foundation honored Dordi in 2014 with its Public Interest Award. Last year, SABA-SC again honored Dordi with its 2016 Mentor of the Year award.
Vikas Bhargava, president of SABA-SC, told India-West: “Firdaus was an obvious choice for the award.”
SABA-SC launched its mentorship program about a decade ago, and revamped it last year to promote greater interaction between a mentor and mentee, said Bhargava, noting that – formerly – the mentor/mentee relationships would fall off after about a month.
“Firdaus was amazing in helping his mentee along,” said Bhargava, noting that SABA-SC was able to pair Dordi with a fledgling attorney interested in criminal justice issues.
Last year, SABA-SC wrote a letter to Governor Brown’s office to advocate for a judgeship for Dordi, according to Bhargava, who noted that Dordi has been active with the South Asian community for more than 15 years.
Dordi has volunteered extensively with the South Asian Network, and – while there – advocated for alternative sentencing for the perpetrator of a hate crime against three South Asian victims. “He advocated for restorative justice rather than punishment,” said Bhargava, noting that the sentence allowed the perpetrator to learn about the South Asian American community, with the aim of not repeating his crime.
Dordi earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has not yet begun to serve, and has not yet been assigned to a court.