San Diego County Bar Foundation Names 2016 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Inductees

The San Diego County Bar Foundation (SDCBF) has announced the 2016 inductees to its Distinguished Lawyer Memorial, which recognizes deceased lawyers and judges of the San Diego County Bar who demonstrated superior legal skills and high ethical standards throughout careers of significant length.

Each inductee was recognized with a permanent plaque in the Hall of Justice at the San Diego County Courthouse honoring their induction into the memorial during a May 25 reception at the San Diego County Bar Association.

“Inclusion in the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial is a professional honor,” said Brent M. Douglas, president of SDCBF. “These inductees have all demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of the community, and proved themselves to be honest, just and civil throughout the course of their careers.”

The 2016 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial inductees are:

  • Paul D. Engstrand (1919 – 2015): Engstrand practiced law in San Diego for nearly 60 years and is best known for his water rights litigation. Throughout his career, Engstrand tried numerous such cases including 34 that reached the appellate courts. The most significant include Escondido Mutual Water Co. v. La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma and Pala bands of Mission Indians, which Engstrand argued (and won) before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984.
  • Judge Gilbert Harelson (1919 – 2015): For more than 50 years, Harelson served the legal community and San Diego with dedication, diligence and integrity. His even courtroom demeanor, decisiveness and sense of fair play, along with his quick quit and humor, made him one of the most respected and liked members of the judiciary.
  • George McClenahan (1923 – 2015): After establishing a reputation as a vigorous and honorable prosecutor as Deputy District Attorney in Madera, California, McClenahan moved to San Diego in 1952 to work in the San Diego District Attorney’s office. One of his most public cases was the defense of the late Mayor Frank Curran against charges of bribery and conspiracy. He is fondly remembered for his unfailing adherence to Bar ethics and his constant ability to keep a light touch and superb sense of humor, both in and out of the courtroom.
  • Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. (1929 – 2015): Thompson, was a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. He served on the Federal bench from 1970 through 2015. He acted as the district’s chief judge from 1984-1991, taking senior status in 1994 and served in that capacity until his death in 2015. His strength of character, unwavering commitment to fundamental fairness and unconditional resolution to treat everyone equally was recognized by all he encountered.
  • Judge Douglas R. Woodworth (1928 – 2015): In 1953, Woodworth and his young family moved to San Diego, where he built his civil law practice. He was a partner in the firm Stickney, Ortlieb, Woodworth and Moats before starting a solo practice. In 1968, he was appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan to the Municipal Court. He was elevated to the Superior Court in 1972. Mr. Woodworth formally retired from the bench in 1988, though continued to work by assignment as a “substitute judge” for many years.

Colleagues, friends and families of honorees have made donations to the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Fund, benefiting the SDCBF and the law-related organizations it supports that serve the disadvantaged in the local community. In 2015, SDCBF awarded $110,000 to local organizations.

To make a contribution to the memorial or in recognition of one of this year’s honorees, visit, call 619-231-7015 or email

About San Diego County Bar Foundation
The San Diego County Bar Foundation (SDCBF) is the charitable arm of the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA). Through this partnership with the San Diego County legal community, SDCBF aims to benefit underprivileged communities in the region, by providing them with access to support, funding and public service programs with legal services. The foundation’s beneficiaries have included more than 40 legal aid and public interest organizations. For more information, visit