(CN) - The 9th Circuit has appointed the head of the federal bankruptcy court in San Diego to a 7-year term on its Bankruptcy Appellate Panel.
Chief Bankruptcy Judge Laura Taylor has served the Southern District of California since 2008, becoming its leader earlier this year. She will begin the appellate panel appointment on Dec. 31, succeeding Judge Eileen Hollowell of Arizona.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, chair of the Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit, announced the appointment Friday.
"Judge Taylor has truly excelled as a member of the bankruptcy bench. She brings a great deal of knowledge, experience and energy to her new role," Kozinski said in a statement.
Taylor, 54, was an associate and partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, where she practiced in the finance and bankruptcy group, from 1983 until joining the bench.
She was active in pro bono service and received numerous awards during her time as an attorney, including the San Diego Bar Association's Public Service Award in 1996, the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program's Attorney of the Year Award in 1997 and the State Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award in 1997.
Taylor wrote the law practice manual, Protecting the Rights of the Differently Abled Child, A Guide for SDVLP Volunteer Attorneys. During a leave of absence from 1995 to 1998, she worked for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program and founded the organization's Special Education Project.
The project provided pro bono legal services to disabled foster youth and low-income families with disabled children.
A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Taylor graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1979 with her bachelor's degree in English and political science. She received her law degree from Duke University in 1983 and served on the school's moot court board.
Taylor was program chair for the 2011 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and served as conference chair for the much debated meeting in Maui this past summer.
She is married to Judge Timothy Taylor of the San Diego Superior Court.
The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel was established in 1979 by the Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit as an alternative forum for hearing bankruptcy appeals. It has handled 49 to 60 percent of all bankruptcy appeals originating out of bankruptcy courts throughout the circuit.
Taylor is eligible for a three-year extension at the close of her term.