Law, Mediation, and Organizations
Growing up in a challenging environment, the San Francisco housing projects, prepared Maja for her legal career. With the same resiliency and gutsy ambition that got her out of the projects, she started her own law firm within two years of passing the bar exam.
Maja soon became an innovator in civil cases for survivors of rape, incest, and child molestation. Her extensive litigation experience in sexual abuse led to her pioneering work against the Catholic Church for its years of covering up priest molestation.
With an eye to large scale social change, as well as saving her clients from harm in litigation, Maja engaged in creative problem solving from the start. She worked with police departments, the media, the courts and the legislature, at the same time pursuing efforts towards case resolution. This honed her interest in the still formative field of mediation. She subsequently became a mediator/arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and taught Negotiation and Mediation at Stanford Law School, Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley, and Hastings Law School.
While still litigating, Maja provided presentations and training for others. She volunteered as Judge pro tempore for San Francisco Municipal and Superior Courts, was elected President of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers, and was selected by TIME magazine as one of America’s Top Ten Women Lawyers.
Maja’s legal publications reflect her advocacy for women and her refusal to sign confidentiality agreements to keep abusive practices secret. They include:
“Maximizing Damages for Women Litigants”, CTLA FORUM, Nov. 1981;
“The Woman Plaintiff - Communicating Changing Roles to the Jury”, ATLA TRIAL, Aug. 1983;
“Third Party Civil Damages for Rape”, WOMEN’S RIGHTS - LAW PRACTICE & ADVOCACY, Clark Boardman Co. Ltd. 1984
“Keeping Secrets with Confidentiality Agreements, Just Say No” ATLA TRIAL, Aug. 1998.
Building on her work in law and mediation, Maja co-founded RockRose Institute (RRI) (2004-2014) with three other women lawyers to promote, support, and advance non-violent conflict resolution. In 2007, RRI organized and sponsored Facing Violence: Justice, Religion & Conflict Resolution World Forum, an event for 500 international and inter-generational participants to explore new ways of using dialogue and acting in the face of conflict.
Maja’s interest in using dialogue to bridge differences and generate change landed her on other organizational boards. Maja is a member of the National Leadership Council for Facing History and Ourselves (www.facinghistory.org), whose focus is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.
Maja served on the Board of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution (www.convergencepolicy.org); the Board of Trustees of World Affairs (www.worldaffairs.org) braiding the arts into its Global Philanthropy Forum; and, the Board of Governors for the Angeles Arrien Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research. The Foundation supported the preservation of the cultural heritage of indigenous traditions worldwide and sponsored collaborative projects between countries, professions, generations, and faiths.
Maja was honored by Convergence, Center for Policy Resolution in 2019 for her work on bridge building, collaborative leadership and philanthropy. She was also honored with a Spirit of Philanthropy Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2016.