Cover Story:
Strengthening California Western’s Alumni Network
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Coast-to-Coast Connection

Strengthening California Western’s Alumni Network

Like many California Western alumni, Adrienne E. Harris ‘96 had just about everything: outstanding career, respect of her peers, a great family life.

Yet something was missing.

“One day it came to me,” says Harris. “Working up here in Seattle in a place I didn’t grow up in or go to law school, I realized I had no relationship with my alma mater. I suddenly discovered that I had an incredibly strong desire to be connected to California Western and my fellow alumni.”

Harris isn’t alone. Across the country, many alumni have expressed the same feelings. And while they’ve enjoyed attending local receptions with law school staff each spring, they’re actively seeking ways to become more connected to California Western and their fellow alumni.

Over the past 18 months, the Alumni Affairs office has worked overtime to facilitate that connection. Collaborating with energetic alumni, the office—under Director Lori Boyle—has helped establish Regional Alumni Association Clubs throughout the country.

Clubs have either launched or will soon launch in Washington, D.C., Dallas, Hawaii, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle.

“This was a year of tremendous growth for this program,” Boyle says. “Passionate alumni volunteers from across the country lead club efforts and outreach by promoting and representing California Western’s values and mission. Our regional clubs provide opportunities for alumni connection, engagement, leadership, and volunteerism. It is the goal of the Alumni Affairs office to continue to serve our valued volunteers and to build our network of the California Western family.”

President and Dean Niels B. Schaumann, who calls his annual alumni visits around the country “one of the best parts of my job,” sees the clubs as one of California Western’s most important efforts.

“Our alumni have done really well after graduation. That’s why to a great extent we judge our success not by U.S. News rankings but how remarkably successful our graduates are in their careers,” Schaumann says. “But as the law can be kind of isolating, it’s important for our alumni to connect through these clubs to share their achievements and experiences, to help each other, and to share the pride of having gone to California Western.”

Harris is so excited about the new Seattle club, she’s volunteered to become one of its first officers.

“I feel like I’m truly connected to a community now and I’m thrilled to see the positive reaction from alumni we’ve already tracked down around western Washington,” she says. “Once we all get together and get to know each other and feel comfortable, I’m really looking forward to seeing what this great group of California Western alumni can accomplish.”

Coast-to-Coast Connection

Regional Alumni Association Clubs

  • Hawaii

    Building on a Strong Tradition of Alumni Engagement

    California Western’s strong ties to the Hawaiian Islands date back to the 1970s, when alums began getting together in Honolulu for dinner.

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  • Building on a Strong Tradition of Alumni Engagement

    California Western’s strong ties to the Hawaiian Islands date back to the 1970s, when alums began getting together in Honolulu for dinner.

    Although the Hawaii Regional Alumni Association Club officially formed last year, club officer Dawnie M. Ichimura ’97 and a few of her classmates have been gathering informally for more than 15 years.

    “We have always sought to aid the Admissions department as best we can, by taking prospective students out to lunch on our own time,” says Ichimura.

    In traditional Hawaiian fashion, the club’s annual luau is its largest event. According to Ichimura, “alums who aren’t usually able to make it to club events definitely come to the luau,” which boasted close to 50 attendees last year.

    Looking toward the future, the club would like to expand its reach to the outer islands, and develop a mentorship program for current and prospective students from Hawaii.

    Family, History Tie California Western to Hawaiian Islands


    With a relationship that dates back 40-plus years, California Western’s connection to its Hawaii alumni is among the strongest with any state in the nation, thanks to people like Ralph LaFountaine ’76 and his son Scott LaFountaine ’08.

    For Ralph, it started in 1973 when he arrived at California Western right out of the Navy. His wife was from Hawaii and it was not long before he was embraced by a group of students from the Aloha State.

    “Dean Castetter and the entire school couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful. I had the added bonus of being befriended by these wonderful Hawaiian students like Han Ching and Keith Kaneshiro, who became lifelong friends when I moved to Hawaii,” Ralph says. Ching, a successful Honolulu businessman, is a California Western trustee. Kaneshiro is Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney.

    As Ralph’s career blossomed—first as a Honolulu deputy prosecuting attorney and then as an insurance defense lawyer—he maintained his connection with California Western, becoming a donor, attending events in Hawaii with other alumni, and supporting Scott’s decision to attend his alma mater. Scott would follow in his father’s footsteps again by becoming a Honolulu deputy prosecuting attorney in 2012.

    “California Western gave me an incredible foundation for my law career,” Scott says. “I was in that first wave of students who benefited from the school’s shift in focus to a more practically oriented education and it paid off as the skills I was equipped with really enabled me to hit the ground running in my first job.”

    Scott has an even closer connection to California Western with his deep involvement in the Hawaii Regional Alumni Association club.

    “I just feel a strong need to stay in touch with California Western and do whatever I can to give back to the school, whether it’s helping organize our luaus or recruiting potential students,” Scott says.

    Adds Ralph, “I’m really proud of Scott and his colleagues for taking the California Western alumni effort to a whole new level here in Hawaii. The older alumni are not going to be around forever and it’s great to see that the future is in such good hands.”

  • Seattle

    Building Community in the Emerald City

    With backing from the Alumni Affairs office at California Western, the Seattle Regional Alumni Association Club plans to hit the ground running when it officially launches on April 23.

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  • Love (and Law) Will Keep Them Together


    Attorneys John A. Ferguell ’96 and Adrienne E. Harris ’97 have been happily married for nearly two decades and yet they rarely talk. About the law, that is.

    After a long day, chatting about cases is low on the Seattle couple’s priority list, especially with two children. They also practice such different types of law, they might as well be working in two different worlds. 

    Their careers demonstrate the wide diversity of legal paths California Western alumni pursue after graduation: Ferguell has spent most of his career as a divorce and family law attorney; Harris, a former senior deputy district attorney in Tulare County, California, and former assistant attorney general with the Washington State Attorney General’s office, is a senior corporate counsel for Travelers Insurance.

    Ferguell and Harris do have several important things in common: they first crossed paths at California Western, they’re both grateful for how well California Western prepared them to take and pass the bar in two different states, and they both single out Professor William Lynch as playing a pivotal role in their lives during and after law school.

    Says Ferguell, “I had no clue what a tort was, but Professor Lynch instilled in me a new and disciplined way of thinking that allowed me see all the pieces of a puzzle and put them together. I still use this pragmatic approach in helping my divorce clients because I’m able to efficiently outline their options, show them the spectrum of potential outcomes, and guide them to a positive resolution to what are often very complex marital issues.”

    Harris, whose affection for her alma mater led her to help launch Seattle’s new California Western Regional Alumni Association Club, says, “Thanks to what I learned about evidence in Professor Lynch’s class, I had a head start and was able to jump right in as a prosecutor and begin trying cases. I’ve been a litigator since I left law school nearly 20 years ago and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use something given to me by Professor Lynch.”

    Building Community in the Emerald City

    With backing from the Alumni Affairs office at California Western, the Seattle Regional Alumni Association Club plans to hit the ground running when it officially launches on April 23.

    Officer Viivi M. Vanderslice ’99 feels that connections made in the first five years post-graduation are the most important, and hopes that the Seattle club can offer networking opportunities to help facilitate those connections in the Pacific Northwest.

    “We’ve always gotten together in an informal manner,” says Vanderslice, “but with the support of Alumni Affairs, our official regional club aims to host events more regularly.”

    In conjunction with the Admissions office, the club plans to host events that welcome admitted students from the area to the California Western family, and also to mentor those students as they navigate their years of education at the law school.

  • Los Angeles

    We Love L.A…Alumni

    Given its proximity to San Diego and its robust legal community, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles attracts hundreds of California Western alumni.

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  • We Love L.A…Alumni

    Given its proximity to San Diego and its robust legal community, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles attracts hundreds of California Western alumni.

    The Los Angeles Regional Alumni Association Club provides networking and service opportunities for those graduates, says co-founder David B. Kirschner ’05, Director of Admissions at USC Gould School of Law.

    In addition to service and networking opportunities, the club provides admissions assistance, connecting alumni with prospective students in the region.

    The club’s largest event so far was the inaugural California Western Day of Service event on May 1. Club officers coordinated a Los Angeles River cleanup, unearthing a discarded cable box, portable vacuum, and a disturbing number of fast food wrappers, according to Kirschner.

    “We had an informal contest to see who could find the oddest piece of trash,” he says. “It was a great way for us to bond.”

    Power of Perseverance


    Landing a job in the entertainment industry is often more about who you know than what you know, but hard work and perseverance certainly help.

    Aaron L. Rea ’10 can testify to the power of perseverance. While he worked in the infomercial business prior to law school and always knew wanted to work in entertainment, he didn’t have contacts or any idea how to get his foot in the door.

    As a motivated California Western student looking for an entertainment law internship, Rea called every firm in Los Angeles with connections to the law school until he found one that would take him. After dozens of calls he connected with David M. McIntosh ’96, Vice President of Business Affairs at Shout! Factory, which licenses media content for broadcast, streaming video, and home entertainment.

    McIntosh wasn’t really looking for an intern, but Rea convinced McIntosh to give him a shot. Today, Rea works closely with McIntosh in his role as Director of Licensing and Business Affairs at Shout! Factory.

    Rea credits California Western with providing a strong foundation in the law and creative problem solving.

    “Having dealt with lawyers from around town who went to different schools, I can say that I have as good—if not better—an educational foundation as anyone I’ve dealt with,” Rea says.

    His work involves the drafting of licensing agreements with content owners including Hasbro, Marvel, and Nickelodeon. He cites courses including Contracts, Property, and Licensing with Professor Nancy Kim as crucial to his preparation for the position.

    When asked what advice he would offer current law students interested in entertainment law, Rea preaches the gospel of perseverance.

    “Working in the entertainment business as a lawyer isn’t like being an actor or musician, where you work for a lifetime and never get your foot in the door. If you work at it long enough, you will find a place for yourself. Don’t ever give up,” he says, adding, “Reach out to California Western alumni. I’m always happy to take a meeting.”

  • Orange County

    Putting “The OC” in Social

    Roughly an hour up the freeway from campus (depending on traffic), California Western’s culture of community is flourishing.

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  • Standing Up for the Little Guy


    Abbas S. Kazerounian ‘07 is an Orange County-based lawyer who began his law practice in a coffee shop, with no clients and no money.  

    A few years later, he is a top consumer attorney and class action litigator, rated a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers, who is happy to take on any lawyer from any firm, from any law school.

    The reason?

    “It’s a matter of confidence,” Kazerounian says.

    Kazerounian developed his confidence at California Western by believing in the professors and believing in the law school.

    “It’s a top-notch law school.” Kazerounian says of California Western. “The professors are solid and very good at what they teach. The adjunct professors are at the top of their game.”

    Now, Kazerounian himself is an adjunct professor at California Western teaching consumer law—a subject he lives and breathes every day in his practice.

    “I have a passion for representing the little guy against the big banks, credit card companies, and insurance companies,” he says. “I know I’m going up against the best, from top 100 law firms.”

    Kazerounian has been lead counsel in more than 200 national class action lawsuits, many of them based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), involving illegal “robocalls” to consumers. One case for which he was co-counsel resulted in the largest TCPA class action settlement in U.S. history—more than $39 million.

    As with many attorneys, going to law school involved a career change for Kazerounian.

    He was an actor on the British stage after receiving his Bachelor of Arts in English literature and theatre and performance from the U.K.’s University of Plymouth.

    “I was doing well as an actor, but I was also getting typecast,” Kazerounian says. “Then I had an epiphany—what I was doing didn’t have that much meaning. I wanted to do a meaningful job where I could feel good about myself.”

    Indeed, Kazerounian feels good about his career defending “the little guy.”

    “It’s a lot more high-pressure, but what I do makes a difference.”

    Putting “The OC” in Social

    Roughly an hour up the freeway from campus (depending on traffic), California Western’s culture of community is flourishing.

    The Orange County Regional Alumni Association Club—officially launched on October 22—serves as a gathering place for local alums to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships.

    “The personal and professional connections made at events provide club members with the opportunity to create new friendships, potential business relationships, and referrals,” says club officer Kendra Bray ’12. “Networking is a critical part of our careers, and by meeting new individuals or reconnecting with old friends, we can expand the possibilities of our practices.”

    Club members regularly share practice guides and case notes, helping fellow alums chart the most effective ways to practice within local courts.

    Although networking is the name of the game for now, the OC club plans to give back to the community as they continue to grow. A mentorship program for prospective, admitted, and current students is in the works, as are CLE offerings and an expanded event calendar.

  • Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Alumni

    Did you know that California Western is among the top law schools for producing attorneys for Clark County, Nevada, including District Attorney Steven B. Wolfson ’80 and eight district court judges, led by Chief Judge Jennifer P. Togilatti?

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  • Viva Las Vegas Alumni

    Did you know that California Western is among the top law schools for producing attorneys for Clark County, Nevada, including District Attorney Steven B. Wolfson ’80 and eight district court judges, led by Chief Judge Jennifer P. Togilatti?

    The Las Vegas Regional Alumni Association Club plans to further boost the law school’s name recognition in the region and benefit from the collaboration and reputation of the many graduates living and working there.

    “Sometimes clients value where you went to school,” says club officer Tara D. Newberry ’07. “The more you raise the profile of California Western, the more you indirectly value your own education.”

    The club launched last year at a well-attended event held at Atomic, Las Vegas’ oldest freestanding bar, currently owned by Lance W. Johns  '00. Since then, the club has hosted several networking events and a Day of Service event with Habitat for Humanity. They hope to offer CLEs and social events as the club grows.

    An Evolving View of the Law


    As a narcotics detective for the Cincinnati Police Department, Tara D. Newberry ’07 thought she had a clear view of the law and its application in society.

    When informed by her doctor that—at age 28—she had the knees of a 58-year-old and probably wouldn’t make it to retirement, Newberry knew she needed to make a change. On the advice of a friend, she considered law schools in the city she wished to live.

    “People went out of their way to help me understand what the school was about,” she says about California Western. “It was a good fit and felt very professional.”

    Having served in law enforcement for eight years, Newberry found her view of the law challenged by the perceptions of her classmates.

    “I learned humility in law school,” she says. “People have different experiences in life. It was a good way to de-institutionalize myself from the police department mentality.”

    She found an ally in Professor Ruth Hargrove, who served as a prosecutor in Los Angeles and San Diego before joining the faculty.

    “It was good to be around people who had different interpretations of the law,” she says. “Law school fostered a greater understanding of the practice of law than my time in the courts.”

    A partner in Connaghan|Newberry, Newberry was recently named among the “Top 40 Under 40 Bankruptcy Attorneys in Nevada” by the American Society of Legal Advocates and in 2013, was honored as one of the "Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40" by the National LGBT Bar Association.

    She and her wife Adele were plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage. Although they legally married in California in 2008, the Newberrys’ marriage was not recognized at home, creating legal issues for the couple and their two children.

    In October, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Newberrys and their co-plaintiffs in one of a series of national legal decisions upholding the right of same-sex couples to marry in 30 states.

  • Phoenix

    Rise of the Phoenix Alumni

    Whether reaching out to prospective local students, welcoming those who have been admitted, or keeping in touch as they traverse their legal education, California Western’s alumni contingent in the Valley of the Sun embraces the law school’s sense of community.

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  • The Right (Accidental) Direction


    “I absolutely love the work that I do,” says Jennifer A. Alewelt ’09, whose passion for disability law has become a calling.

    Alewelt is the Chief Quality Officer at Arizona State Hospital—a mental health facility.

    “In this role, I supervise medical records, training and education, and quality resource management. Quality resource management is responsible for compliance, licensing, and performance improvement,” says Alewelt.

    She developed an interest in disability law while still in law school and served an internship with the Arizona Center for Disability Law in 2007.

    “The attorney I worked for represented clients with mental illness,” says Alewelt. “I was moved by the needs of the population and the impact mental illness had on the center’s clients. It interfered with the most human part of us—how we interact with others.”

    That experience became the motivation for what she calls the “accidental direction” of her legal career, and after law school, Alewelt returned to the center as an attorney.

    While at the center, she educated state and national officials on issues facing persons with disabilities, trained Arizonans about their rights, and represented people with mental illness fighting for their rights. 

    “I also helped initiate a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections, when the center sued the prison system for failure to provide adequate mental health care to inmates,” she says.

    In her current position, Alewelt feels she can be “a more effective agent of change in improving services available to persons with mental illness.”

    Though Alewelt’s position is a significant departure from the active practice of law, after all, she’s doing what she loves.

    Rise of the Phoenix Alumni

    Whether reaching out to prospective local students, welcoming those who have been admitted, or keeping in touch as they traverse their legal education, California Western’s alumni contingent in the Valley of the Sun embraces the law school’s sense of community.

    According to club officer Devin Sreecharana ’11, the Phoenix Regional Alumni Association Club aims to assist with recruitment efforts of the Admissions office, demonstrate the club’s networking value in the area, and support Phoenix’s local and legal community.

    “The genesis of the club stems from discussions among local alumni about the opportunity to bolster the California Western name in Arizona with regard to professionalism, community involvement, and student recruitment,” explains Sreecharana.

    The club’s wide reach helps make immediate connections with interested students, and annual “send-off” events reinforce that admitted students will always have a large, family-like network in their home town.

    This June, club participants spent their time at the St. Mary’s Food Bank creating emergency boxes and filling them up with non-perishable goods.

    "It was great to give back to the community in such a tangible way and the Phoenix Alumni Club is already looking forward to next year's Volunteer Day of Service," says Alan Lewenstein '05.

  • Houston

    Staying Looped In

    It’s the nation’s fourth-largest city, and the energy capital of the world. For students interested in oil, gas, and energy law, Houston is an obvious choice. For others, however, Houston is simply “home.”

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  • Staying Looped In

    It’s the nation’s fourth-largest city, and the energy capital of the world. For students interested in oil, gas, and energy law, Houston is an obvious choice. For others, however, Houston is simply “home.”

    Officially launching on February 18, the Houston Regional Alumni Association Club aspires to emulate the latter for California Western graduates who are either returning to Texas, or venturing solo to the Lone Star State for a job in the rapidly growing energy field or Houston’s burgeoning medical industry.

    “Houston’s a very spread-out city and can be daunting for newcomers,” says club officer Stephanie J. Magers ’06. “For current students and alumni alike, the club provides support. We are a group that is invested in helping one another.”

    The club is also invested in giving back to the local community, with upcoming volunteer events planned at local area nonprofits supporting children and families.

    Rising Star in the Lone Star State


    If Brian P. Teaff ‘08 had been a better golfer, the legal community would never have discovered the talents of one of the nation’s outstanding young tax attorneys.

    Fortunately for Teaff and Houston’s Bracewell & Guiliani, where he is an associate, the two frustrating years Teaff pursued professional golf after playing on University of San Diego’s golf team revealed he just couldn’t compete at the highest levels of the game.

    “I very quickly realized I needed a plan B,” Teaff recalls. “My dad (Robert Teaff) was a transactional lawyer and California Western adjunct professor of Sports Law, so I decided I would go to law school and try to become a lawyer. The minute I got to California Western, I knew I had made the right decision.”

    Teaff said he was quickly transformed from carefree jock to dedicated student.

    “I absolutely loved law school. Something clicked, my personality changed, and I learned a new way of thinking and a totally different way of looking at the world. Every day I felt I was becoming a more informed, intelligent person. It was hard work, but I surprised myself and actually ended up on law review.”

    After obtaining an LL.M. in taxation at New York University, Teaff moved to Houston where his list of accomplishments is growing. Super Lawyers magazine named him a “Rising Star” for 2013 and 2014 in Texas; he’s chair-elect of the Houston Bar Association’s Tax Section; and he’s chair of the Houston Young Lawyers Association Leadership Academy.

    Teaff still finds time to play golf, shooting around par most of the time and has competed in the Houston City Amateur. But thankfully, it’s only for fun.

    “I’m so fortunate to have found my true calling and it’s tax law,” Teaff says. “But there’s no way I would have had such a successful career if it hadn’t been for the foundation California Western gave me, and for that I will always be grateful.”

  • New York

    Finding Community Far From Home

    Although New York is more than 2,000 miles from San Diego, there is a large and vibrant alumni community in the tri-state area. More than 400 California Western graduates live and work in the region.

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  • Global Perspective


    Jenae N. Ruesch ’01 always wanted to make a difference in the world. After obtaining a criminal justice degree from San Diego State University, she arrived at California Western ready to put her commitment to public service into action.

    “I was pretty convinced that criminal prosecution was where I wanted to go. At California Western, I took every opportunity to get there,” she says.

    Ruesch participated in on-campus interviews arranged by Career and Professional Development and applied with the Orange County District Attorney’s office, which offered her a post-bar clerkship that turned into her first real legal job.

    “At the DA’s office they hand you a trial in your first week,” she says. “It was scary, but I had the assurance of knowing I had competed in trial teams and taken internships that prepared me well.”

    After six years with the DA, her life took a global turn. She traveled internationally for a year and returned with a different perspective on the world. She received her LL.M. from Georgetown University School of Law, with a certificate in international human rights law.

    From there, Ruesch embarked on a series of career moves that led her to work in the international arena.  She worked on access to justice issues in Asia at the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, traveled on behalf of the White House to advance the trip of the Vice President to Poland, and attended UN meetings in both Geneva and New York, where she ultimately settled when her husband accepted a position at a New York law firm.

    While working at NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and International Human Rights Clinic, Ruesch specialized in human rights work on corporate accountability.

    “I realized that business and human rights was a great direction to take my career if I wanted to stay stateside and focus on international law,” Ruesch says. “There are a variety of really fascinating issues.”

    This focus ultimately led Ruesch to work for a socially responsible investment firm, a role she has recently put on hold to spend time with her new daughter. Ruesch plans to return to this work next year, when she looks forward to engaging with multi-national corporations to facilitate greater compliance with international human rights law.

    “I am such a huge fan of California Western,” she says. “I walked away from my time there not only knowing how to be a lawyer but having the confidence of knowing how to find answers when I come across something I don’t know.”

    Finding Community Far From Home

    Although New York is more than 2,000 miles from San Diego, there is a large and vibrant alumni community in the tri-state area. More than 400 California Western graduates live and work in the region.

    Recently, six dedicated graduates joined forces with Alumni Affairs to form the New York Regional Alumni Association Club, which hosted its kick-off reception last November.

    “People were excited about the opportunity to connect,” says club officer Jenae N. Ruesch ’01, who left California in 2008 and was thrilled to find an engaged alumni community in her adopted home.

    “I was longing to connect with something that was comfortable and familiar, and to help my fellow alumni,” she says.

    Now, in addition to the annual reception with law school staff, alumni in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have the opportunity to connect and socialize throughout the year at dinners, mixers, and service events.

  • Washington, D.C.

    California Western’s Expanding Beltway Presence

    Originally from San Diego, Washington, D.C. Regional Alumni Association Club officer Melissa A. Henkel ’09 thinks of the club as a “home away from home” for California Western grads in the District.

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  • California Western’s Expanding Beltway Presence

    Originally from San Diego, Washington, D.C. Regional Alumni Association Club officer Melissa A. Henkel ’09 thinks of the club as a “home away from home” for California Western grads in the District.

    “I’m involved in our Regional Club because I love connecting with other CWSL alums who have made their way out of California,” says Henkel. “It’s great to be a part of a community so far from where we all went to school, and I’m excited about connecting with other alumni as we get the club going and schedule regular events.”

    The Washington, D.C. club’s inaugural meeting will take place on Thursday, December 11. Be on the lookout for information on a location and time.

    Taking the Road Less Traveled


    Tax law is often the road less traveled for a law student, but Melissa A. Henkel ‘09 loves the field.

    “I am a tax attorney for the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C.,” Henkel says. “It’s a really fulfilling job and I’m happy to be involved in public service work.”

    Henkel especially loves being in Washington.

    “It’s a great place to be an attorney!” she says. “There are so many attorneys in this area and there are a lot of opportunities to meet interesting people. There are always events and lectures and happy hours sponsored by legal organizations and other groups where you can learn about anything that interests you. Plus, it’s exciting to work in D.C. because you’re on the forefront of much of the law as it develops for the country.”

    Henkel began her professional career as an attorney advisor at the United States Tax Court in Washington. From there, she was a tax associate at the D.C. office of Shearman & Sterling before transitioning back into government work with the IRS.

    She credits California Western with inspiring her to become a tax attorney.

    “California Western prepared me to be an attorney by teaching both substantive law and practical skills,” Henkel says. “The faculty and staff at the law school are tremendous. In fact, it was through the support of several professors that I first became interested in tax law and got my clerkship at the tax court.”

    As a tax attorney, the road Henkel chose—to quote Robert Frost—“has made all the difference.”

  • Coming Soon to a Region Near You

Alumni are in the process of building new regional clubs in these areas of the country. If you would like to help these club officers, please contact Lielah Minoo at

San Francisco
Magdalena Chattopadhya ‘12
Jaime M. Longoria ‘12
Elizabeth A. Nardi ‘10
Aaron R. Jackson ‘06
Robert J. Calleros, Jr. ‘05

Palm Springs
Samantha E. Cantilena ‘12
Jenny L. Doling ‘00
Eve E. Fromberg ‘97

Michael J. Noordsy ‘93
Matthew C. Crockett ‘08

Morgan A. Duffy-Kiszka ‘15



Expanding Clinical Opportunities for Students

Hands-on legal experience is critical to California Western’s mission—ensuring that graduates are profession-ready.

The law school operates eight legal clinics that give students practical experience working with real-world clients.

Among the newest of California Western’s clinical programs are the Immigration, Traffic Court, and Mediation Clinics.

At the Immigration Clinic’s two locations—Mira Mesa and National City—the majority of pro bono cases involve domestic violence.

“We serve victims that would not otherwise have been helped,” says clinic director Anne S. Bautista ’97. “Clients reported that they felt students really cared about them not just as cases, but as human beings.”

The new Traffic Court Clinic provides pro bono legal representation to drivers who are fighting traffic tickets at Kearny Mesa Superior Court.

Law students appear on behalf of the drivers, along with the clinic’s supervising attorney Coleen M. Cusack ’92.

“This clinic is a win-win!” Cusack says. “Motorists receive free legal representation and students experience an invaluable opportunity unlike any other nationwide.”
Professors Linda H. Morton and Floralynn Einesman established the Advanced Mediation Program in 1996, renaming and expanding the Mediation Clinic in 2012.

California Western students represent clients in Vista Small Claims Court, and settle disputes at the female juvenile detention facility in Kearny Mesa.

“The clinic has done remarkable work over the years, offering our students extensive lawyering skills, and providing collaborative justice to thousands of small claims litigants and incarcerated juveniles,” says Morton, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning.

To find out more about California Western’s clinical programs, visit

New Academic Programs Strengthen Ties to Latin America

California Western took another giant step in expanding its role as a major learning center for Latin American attorneys and judges with the successful launch of legal programs for lawyers and law enforcement officials in Latin America, including Brazil.

This year, 32 attorneys from six different Latin American countries arrived at the law school to begin their year-long graduate degree program exploring the U.S. legal system, with a concentration in litigation skills.

The majority of the coursework is taught online, and is the first program of its kind in the continental U.S. to combine a residential requirement, live classes, online, video, one-to-one tutorials, and mentoring. Course materials, including cases, and all instruction are entirely in Spanish. The second year of the program launches next August.

The first group of Brazilian lawyers arrived on campus in June 2014 to begin a two-week course on the American legal system, taught entirely in English. They were here as part of the law school’s American Legal Studies and Exchange Program-Brazil.

The new programs build on California Western’s reputation of empowering a new generation of advocates for legal change in Latin American and support the ongoing transition to the adversarial system of criminal procedure from the inquisitorial system.

The law school has strong relationships with the South American legal sector, including the Chile Summer Program and Proyecto ACCESO, and has been effectively guiding legal reform efforts for more than 17 years throughout Central and South America.


Alumni Lead State, Local Legal Organizations

Three California Western alumni were recently elected to leadership positions in local and statewide legal organizations.

Wendy M. Behan ’98, a partner at CaseyGerry, is the newly elected president of California Women Lawyers. The organization promotes the advancement of women in the legal profession and actively advocates for women in society.

“The organization provides many important resources and services to members, and I look forward to building on its strength and history to help represent the interests of females in the legal profession throughout the state,” says Behan, past president of the Lawyers Club of San Diego.

Charles E. Bell Jr. ’07, a San Diego deputy city attorney in the civil division, becomes president of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association in November. The association honors the trailblazing San Diego judge and provides support and advocacy for African-American legal professionals and access to the legal system for all San Diegans.

“I am honored at the opportunity to continue this association’s commitment to diversity, mentorship, and the community,” says Bell. “I have benefited greatly from my involvement in the association.”

Angela Jae Chun ’06, an associate on CaseyGerry’s trial team, is the new president of the Korean American Bar Association of San Diego. The organization helps to advance Korean-Americans in the legal profession, creates networking opportunities, and provides services to the Korean-American community.

“I thank the membership for having faith in my abilities to take this organization to the next level,” says Chun.

Expert in Online Contracts Named to Professorship

Professor Nancy S. Kim has been named as the ProFlowers Distinguished Professor of Internet Studies for her work highlighting the risks of online contracts.

Kim has become a nationally recognized scholar in the legal dialogue over “wrap” contracts—contracts created when an Internet user clicks on “Agree,” “Accept Terms,” or a similar link—often not knowing they have entered into a legally binding contract. She is the author of the recently published book Wrap Contracts: Foundations and Ramifications, which has garnered critical praise.

"I am very proud to award this endowed professorship to Nancy Kim,” says Niels B. Schaumann, President and Dean of California Western. “Her recent book on wrap contracts makes her the ideal candidate for this distinguished position, and the generosity of our donors has allowed me to recognize Professor Kim in a way that matters in our academic world."

“I am honored to receive the inaugural ProFlowers Distinguished Professorship in Internet Studies which will help me continue my research in the area of contracts, technology, and the Internet,” says Kim.

Kim's efforts epitomize California Western's commitment to research in emerging areas of the law and ensuring that federal rules and laws protect the rights of content creators and owners.

In addition to her many scholarly works, Kim is a frequent media guest on the topic of wrap contracts, including interviews with NBC San Diego and WBUR Public Radio in Boston.


Vice Dean Aceves Returns to the Faculty

After seven years as Associate Dean (later Vice Dean) for Academic Affairs, Professor William J. Aceves steps down at the end of 2014 to return to teaching and scholarship.

“When I took the position, I expected it would be a three to four-year term. Three years became five, five became seven-plus, and here we are,” Aceves says with a smile.

During his tenure, Aceves oversaw faculty and academic affairs and worked with several law school departments.  He also supported many of the law school’s recent initiatives, including the development of the A.I.M. for Law program for prospective law students, the STEPPS Program for second-year students, and the Access to Law Initiative for recent graduates.  Aceves was a strong advocate for Proyecto ACCESO, the California Innocence Project, and the Community Law Project.  He led several law school retreats and oversaw the school’s ABA/AALS 2014 site visit. 

Aceves is proud of his work supporting faculty and students. And, he is effusive in his praise of the law school staff. 

“Our staff show remarkable dedication to our students and the law school.  It has been a privilege to work with them and to learn from them.”

Throughout his decanal appointment, Aceves remained active in research and service work, editing two books, authoring several law review articles and book chapters, and participating in numerous cases as counsel to various civil rights and human rights groups.  He also taught Human Rights Law and co-coached the Jessup International Law Moot Court Team.

While much has changed since 2007, with a new dean and the retirement of several long-term faculty and staff, Aceves says some things remain the same.

“Our core values have remained constant,” he says. “We are devoted to our students and committed to providing them with a meaningful journey through the legal profession. Our students are the reason we exist as a law school, and they are the reason I cherish my job as a professor.”

During his upcoming sabbatical, Aceves is looking forward to working on new research projects and participating in human rights litigation. He’ll continue his work with organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Justice & Accountability, organizations for which he serves on the national board of directors.

Beginning in January 2015, Professor Barbara J. Cox will assume the role of vice dean. Cox is no stranger to the administrative office, having served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1997-2001.
“Barb is a great leader and will do a wonderful job,” Aceves says. “She has the experience, the temperament and, most of all, the dedication to succeed.”

Reflecting on his time as vice dean, Aceves noted he was humbled by the opportunity to serve the faculty and students at California Western. “By serving others, we give back to our community and leave a legacy for others to build on. And, I’ve learned so much from my experiences as vice dean.”  When asked what he hopes students will remember about him, Aceves says with laugh, “that I pronounced their names correctly at graduation!”



Vice Dean William Aceves

Recognizing Decades of Outstanding Service

It is fitting that two of California Western’s most dedicated and influential professors—Janet Weinstein and Janet Bowermaster—are retiring at the same time. Few professors in the law school’s history have excelled at such a high level in three distinct areas: excellence in the classroom, improving the school’s ability to educate law students, and creating innovative programs and legislation that have had a profound impact on lives in San Diego and around the nation.

During her 37 years at California Western, Weinstein was passionate about clinical legal education. In 1980, she transformed a fledgling externship program into the Clinical Internship Program, a nationally recognized program that provides students with invaluable hands-on experience in the world of law.

 Weinstein was also among the first to design a mediation clinic and one of the first faculty members in the country to design an interdisciplinary program in child abuse and neglect. She was a pioneer in developing a dual master’s degree program in social work with San Diego State University, and later helped create the STEPPS Program, one of the first comprehensive, required skills training and professionalism courses in the nation. Along the way, Weinstein found time to assist a number of community organizations dedicated to justice for juveniles, especially those who have been abused, neglected, and incarcerated.

“I was obsessed with improving legal education because I knew it could be better,” Weinstein recalls. “I wanted to ensure the preparation of our students went beyond academics to equipping them with the actual real-world skills and professionalism they would need to be successful lawyers immediately upon graduation.

“What gave me the most joy at California Western was getting to know the students and helping them grow into outstanding lawyers,” Weinstein says. “I enjoyed pushing them to really figure out what they needed to learn and how to make it happen. I like to think that most of them have carried that way of thinking with them throughout their careers as lifelong learners.”

Like Weinstein, in addition to being an outstanding teacher, Bowermaster was an innovator in expanding the scope of legal education. She created the first scholarly class on domestic violence in the nation in the mid-1990s, and her passion for scholarship and advocacy made her a leading national authority on family law and domestic violence. Legislation she helped draft has protected the rights and lives of victims of domestic abuse, including a law that secured the right of custodial parents to move.

In her 26 years at California Western, Bowermaster was also committed to improving the school itself. In 2002 she agreed to leave the classroom to take on the challenging position of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and over five years she dramatically improved the school’s bar review and adjunct faculty programs and overhauled the faculty support department.

“It was great to see so many of my students go into family law because they really cared about giving back to the community and making a difference in people’s lives in an area that really needs them,” Bowermaster says.

“I’m proud of all the students I helped educate and pleased to see them go out and do really good and important things. As professors we can have a positive impact on individual students while they’re here, but what’s truly gratifying is that our impact extends way beyond that through the countless other lives our students go on to influence throughout their careers.”



Professor Janet Weinstein


Professor Janet Bowermaster

Alumni Affairs

California Western Honors Distinguished Alumni of the Year

California Western’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni of the Year Awards celebrated the achievements of three of the law school’s exceptional graduates.

Roy M. Bell ’74 received the 2014 Alumnus of the Year Award, Drew A. Lautemann ’09 received the 2014 Outstanding Community Service Award, and Melissa R. Bobrow ’07 received the 2014 Rising Star Award.

“It is really fitting that we launch the awards program in 2014, the 90th anniversary of this law school,” said Dean Niels B. Schaumann. “We have nine decades of successful outcomes to celebrate this year. Tonight we celebrate in particular three of those success stories, with a trio of engaging alumni.”

“I’m very honored to be here,” said Bell, Senior Counsel at Troutman Sanders, during a moving and inspirational acceptance speech. “This award is significant for me because as lawyers, we’re in a position to do something for others.”

Bobrow, a criminal defense attorney who owns her own practice, said that being chosen for the Rising Star Award has a lot of meaning for her.

“It is exciting to receive this award, especially from California Western,” Bobrow said. “I love what I do and I’m fortunate in my career, which I owe to this law school.”

Lautemann, in accepting the Outstanding Community Service Award, said he was very humbled and grateful to receive the award.

“I don’t feel like I've done anything other than what I am supposed to do,” said Lautemann. “I view the law as the rules we all have to live by in our daily lives and I came to law school because I wanted a say in those rules. We have a responsibility to make sure that everybody has a fair chance to know the rules.”  

Lautemann created A.I.M. for Law—designed to educate first-generation college and inner-city students about the legal profession—and has helped provide access to justice for people who can’t afford it by supervising California Western’s City Heights Community Law Project.

Nominations for our 2015 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Awards will be accepted online beginning February 1.

Alumni Affairs 2014-2015 Calendar of Events

We look forward to seeing alumni and friends in these areas of the country. Be on the lookout for reception details in your region!

December 11, 2014
Washington, D.C.
Regional Alumni Club Launch Reception

January 22, 2015
San Diego, California
Annual Regional Alumni Reception

February 18, 2015
Houston, Texas
Regional Alumni Club Launch Reception

February 19, 2015
Dallas, Texas
Regional Alumni Club Launch Reception

March 26, 2015
Phoenix, Arizona
Annual Regional Alumni Reception

April 9, 2015
New York, New York
Annual Alumni Regional Reception

April 21, 2015
Chicago, Illinois
Alumni Gathering

April 23, 2015
Seattle, Washington
Regional Alumni Club Launch Reception

May 2015
Annual Alumni Association Volunteer Day of Service

May 15, 2015
Oahu, Hawaii
Annual Regional Alumni Reception/Luau

June 2015
Las Vegas, Nevada
Annual Regional Alumni Reception

Los Angeles, California
Annual Regional Alumni Reception

July 2015
San Francisco, California
Annual Regional Alumni Reception

Orange County, California
Annual Regional Alumni Reception

Have you moved recently? Make sure you get the latest news. Update your contact information with us at today.


Make Your Donation Go Twice as Far This Fall

California Western trustee and 2014 Alumnus of the Year, Roy M. Bell ’74, makes history this fall when he becomes the law school’s first-ever matching donor for a major fundraising initiative.

Bell has generously agreed to match all donations to the school—up to a total of $10,000—made during the law school’s inaugural 24-hour Giving Tuesday Campaign, which takes place on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

Bell has served on California Western’s Board of Trustees since 1990 and has been instrumental to the law school’s success over the past 24 years. The California Western community was thrilled to honor his longstanding service and generosity to the school as part of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony on September 27, when Bell was recognized as the 2014 Alumnus of the Year.

Giving Tuesday is the nationally recognized day of giving that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. It provides donors the opportunity to demonstrate their thankfulness through philanthropy while giving back to the community.

Thanks to this generous commitment, all donations to the school made on Giving Tuesday will have double the impact on California Western and its programs. We are most grateful for Roy Bell’s support, and for his role in helping to make our first Giving Tuesday Campaign a success!

For more information on this campaign, please visit or contact Melissa Wells at

Update: 90th Anniversary Campaign

Thank you to the generous donors who contributed to our 90th Anniversary Campaign. With the support of our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends, California Western has raised more than $30,000 which will directly support the institution and its many innovative programs.

The dedication and commitment of our loyal donors enable the law school to continue its 90-year legacy as a leader in training students as aspiring, practice-ready lawyers.

Thank you for making our 90th anniversary one to remember. We are excited to work with each and every one of you to continue our success as we look forward to our centennial celebration in 2024.

The 90th Anniversary Campaign isn’t over yet! You can still make a gift in honor of California Western’s 90th birthday by visiting, or by joining us for Giving Tuesday on December 2, 2014.

Class Actions

What have California Western Alumni been up to?

» Class of 1970

Hon. Robert C. Coates (Ret.) is a partner at Olins, Riviere, Coates and Bagula. As a Distinguished Eagle Scout, Coates helps organize scouting in less-privileged communities in southern San Diego County.

» Class of 1971

Charles M. Mesirow recently opened his own practice in San Jose, California, specializing in criminal law defense.

» Class of 1973

Now retired, J. Earl Rogers spends his time on the beaches of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico and in Courtenay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

» Class of 1975

Julie Waggener and Denise D. Hoffman ’00 have combined forces in their newly renamed firm Hoffman Crews Nies Waggener & Foster LLP in Denver, Colorado.

» Class of 1978

Angelynn (Annie) C. Hall resides in Palm Desert, California, and practices trusts and estates law. Hall also works in residential real estate in the Coachella Valley.

Ron H. Oberndorfer completed a two-year term as chairman of the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges in June 2014. Oberndorfer continues to serve as chairman of the Prop. R Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee, for the benefit of the citizens within the Grossmont and Cuyamaca College District.

» Class of 1979

Thierry V. Barkley is of counsel to Thorndal Armstrong Delk Balkenbush & Eisinger in Nevada, and was named a 2014 Mountain States “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers magazine in the field of insurance coverage. Barkley’s practice includes insurance defense, first-party bad faith, life, health, and disability.

Hon. A. Craig Blakey is finishing his 13th year as a judge on the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County, the fourth-largest judiciary in the country. In December 2013, Blakey was named “Judge of the Year” by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Charlie Cockerill closed his Carson City, Nevada law office to join the Allison, MacKenzie, Pavlakis, Wright & Fagan law firm as of counsel, continuing to specialize in labor and employment law.

» Class of 1980

Greg J. Ryan was recognized by the San Diego Daily Transcript as a “Top Attorney” in insurance law, and a “Lawyer You Need to Know” by San Diego Magazine. his 13th year as a judge on the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County, the fourth-largest judiciary in the country. In December 2013, Blakey was named “Judge of the Year” by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

» Class of 1981

Ronald A. Bienstock teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business regarding content management and music.

Charles J. Szlenker has been retired since 2013.

» Class of 1982

Thomas E. Plastaras was named as a 2014 “Super Lawyer” for the New York metropolitan area by Super Lawyers magazine.

Shirley K. Watkins recently became a full-time mediator after 32 years as a plaintiff medical malpractice and personal injury attorney, joining Alternative Resolution Centers in Los Angeles.

» Class of 1984

Richard Meadow was recognized as one of the country’s top lawyers in the annual listing of The Best Lawyers in America. Meadow serves as the national mass tort leader for The Lanier Firm in New York.

» Class of 1986

Glenn Gomer is managing attorney for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Tampa, Florida, and assistant to the regional general attorney overseeing the southern Midwest offices in the U.S.

» Class of 1988

Linda Bellomio Commons (Lentine) owns her own practice in Tampa, Florida.

Jordan D. Yuelys, past president and current trustee of the Hellenic American Bar Association of New Jersey, presented a proclamation of achievement to the incoming New Jersey State Bar Association president.

» Class of 1989

Margaret Grosse Hyatt is in private practice focusing on real estate matters and commercial developments. Hyatt splits her time between Park City, Utah and San Diego.

» Class of 1993

Robert K. Gundacker was promoted to chief of the criminal trial division for the Yavapai County Public Defender’s Office in Prescott, Arizona.

Joshua D. Mackenroth persuaded the Los Angeles Superior Court to declare a California-licensed attorney and serial plaintiff a “vexatious litigant” in two separate lawsuits Mackenroth was defending.

» Class of 1994

Joseph J. Craciun was promoted to Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Money Mailer, LLC, where he has served in various in-house counsel capacities for more than 17 years.

Scott M. Grossman has been selected as a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers magazine.

Wendy L. Patrick was named the 2014 Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year by the California State Bar Association’s Public Law Section.

» Class of 1995

Michael M. Edwards recently celebrated his five-year anniversary as regional managing partner for the Nevada office of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, handling matters throughout Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Southern California.

David Joanson has been promoted to Chief Division Counsel, Supervisory Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Philadelphia Division. Joanson is also Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Col. Natalie D. Richardson became the Chief Regional Military Judge for the Western Region, one of five regions in the United States Air Force Trial Judiciary. Richardson is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

» Class of 1996

S. Brook Millard will serve as president of the Utah Association of Justice for 2014-2015. Millard’s practice continues to emphasize catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, and other injury cases.

Idan Ravin has authored The Hoops Whisperer, which describes his career transition from an attorney to trainer of some of the NBA’s biggest basketball stars.

» Class of 1998

Wendy M. Behan was sworn in as president of California Women Lawyers, heading the organization’s board of governors that represents the interests of more than 30,000 women working in the legal profession throughout California.

David L. McCarthy opened his own practice devoted exclusively to defending renters’ rights.

Marcella O. McLaughlin has been appointed to the American Bar Association (ABA) National Conference of Bar Presidents Diversity Committee.

» Class of 1999

Emily Lynch Morissette is the paralegal program director and a full-time faculty member at Southwestern College. Also, the third edition of her book Personal Injury and the Law of Torts for Paralegals was recently released.

» Class of 2000

Cally A. Bright was selected as Prosecutor of the Year for the State of California by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the California Office of Traffic Safety.

» Class of 2001

Carrie Kercsmar (Stieha) has been appointed chair of the professionalism committee for the State Bar of Arizona for 2014-2015. Kercsmar’s practice areas include commercial litigation and intellectual property litigation.

Kearstin S. Meadows graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with an LL.M. in securities and financial regulation.

» Class of 2003

Brian D. Moreno has been promoted to partner at Richardson Harman Ober, PC, where he primarily practices community association law and real estate and litigation, representing condominium developments, stock cooperatives, and planned developments throughout Southern California.

Robert P. Robinson is managing partner of Hickman & Robinson, named a “Top 5 Real Estate Firm” by U-T San Diego.

Elsie L. Secoquian recently accepted a position as in-house counsel for Fred Loya Insurance in their Anaheim office.

Nina Targovnik was accepted into the Valley Leadership Program in Phoenix, Arizona. Targovnik was also asked to participate in the Arizona Town Hall program to discuss issues surrounding vulnerable populations, and helped develop a veterans’ clinic to address their civil legal issues.

» Class of 2004

Byrce C. Besser joined UC San Diego as senior litigation analyst, where he oversees training programs for campus leadership, provides legal oversight, and collaborates with campus counsel to develop effective defense strategies.

» Class of 2005

Anthony P. Gaeta was named partner at Collinsworth, Specht, Calkins & Giampaoli’s San Diego office, where his practice includes residential construction, mid-rise and high-rise commercial construction, and condominium conversions.

Robert S. Marticello has recently partnered with fellow bankruptcy attorneys to launch a new firm, Smiley Wang-Ekvall, LLP.

Kristi M. Morley has joined Owens & Perkins in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Kelly X. Ranasinghe is a senior program attorney with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in Reno, Nevada.

James P. Rudolph was accepted as the first California resident in the U.S. State Department Franklin Fellows Program, on behalf of Nigeria and the human rights issues the country faces.

John R. Weber was named land and financial analyst at Sethi Capital Partners in Dallas, Texas.

» Class of 2006

Emma Bennett-Williams was appointed to the South Carolina State University’s Board of Visitors.

Angela Jae Chun was elected president of the Korean American Bar Association of San Diego, an organization established to help advance Korean-American attorneys and law students in the legal profession.

Erich Andreas Drotleff is director of legal affairs for Sutherland Healthcare Solutions in New York, where he is responsible for legal support and guidance in the structuring of transactions for compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations; Stark and state physician self-referral laws; federal anti-kickback statutes; physician-facility contracting; compliance with HIPAA and state privacy laws, and managed care contracting.

Kevin Gupta has joined San Diego’s Sullivan Hill as an associate.

Erica J. Pascal was promoted to partner in DLA Piper’s San Diego office.

Bradley S. Wallace was named partner at Layfield & Wallace, APC, a plaintiff litigation firm which specializes in injury and business litigation. Wallace was recently inducted into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, whose membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. He was also selected by Super Lawyers magazine for the second straight year as a 2014 “Southern California Rising Star.”

Kurt Weiser has been named partner in the estate planning group at Greenman, Lacy, Klein, O’Harra & Heffron, where he will focus his practice on estate planning and trust administration.

Kyle E. Yaege co-founded Armistice Real Estate, Inc., a real estate broker that helps property owners (and their attorneys) sell real estate that is involved in active litigation, including divorce, probate, dissolution, partition, receivership, and bankruptcy.

» Class of 2007

Doron F. Eghbali was installed as president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Barristers Division Board of Governors.

David R. Silldorf joined Silldorf & Levine, LLP as partner. Silldorf brings his criminal defense practice to the firm, where he also assists in construction defect litigation representing homeowner associations against various developers.

At the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, the International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD)—co-founded by Hansdeep Singh ’08—announced a Commitment to Action to combat violence against women in the Pacific Islands.

The commitment, graciously recognized by Secretary Hillary Clinton, focuses on strengthening the rule of law through a systems approach and using big data to monitor and understand the outcomes of violence on the lives of women and girls.


“ICAAD and partners' Commitment to Action being recognized at CGI Annual Meeting”

Photo courtesy of Barbara Kinney / Clinton Global Initiative

» Class of 2008

The law firm of Allan R. ’08 and Mackenzie W. Mackins ’09—Mackins & Mackins, LLP—was named the 2014 Sherman Oaks Small Business of the Year by the United Chambers of Commerce.

Andrew L. Westover was certified by the State Bar of California as a Family Law Specialist, founded the Westover Law Group, and has been hired as an adjunct professor of law at Trinity Law School in Orange County.

» Class of 2009

E. Michael Abler is enrolled in the national security LL.M. class of 2015 at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. As part of his studies, Abler is a fellow with a committee of the House of Representatives and a peer reviewer of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy.

Elizabeth G. Blust is a sole practitioner in San Diego, focusing on estate planning and probate law. She is a charter member of California Western’s incubator program for new attorneys, the Access to Law Initiative.

Patrick E. Monroe recently joined the San Diego office of Best Best & Krieger LLP as of counsel, where he works on corporate and business matters.

Melody Parman was recently voted one of the “Top 40 under 40” by The National Trial Lawyers, a professional organization composed of attorneys from across the country who exemplify superior qualifications as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers.

William S. Wenzel will be the second consecutive president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Barristers Division Board of Governors from California Western, succeeding Doron F. Eghbali ’07.

» Class of 2010

Michael A. Semanchik was named a “Top Attorney” by the San Diego Daily Transcript.

Joshua Wallace recently celebrated his one-year anniversary working for San Diego’s Stassinopoulos & Schweitzer, LLP.

» Class of 2011

Devin Sreecharana was selected as a 2014 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine and as a member of the Sandra Day O’Connor Inn of Court. Since graduating in 2011, Sreecharana has been practicing commercial litigation and appellate advocacy at May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, P.C. in Phoenix.

Kyle A. Stucki was recently voted one of the “Top 40 under 40” by The National Trial Lawyers.

» Class of 2012

Zachary A. Adams serves as corporate counsel for Golden Gaming, LLC in Las Vegas.

Chris B. Shourds recently celebrated his one-year anniversary at Greenman, Lacy, Klein, O’Harra & Heffron, where he practices estate planning, trust administration, probate, and decedent’s affairs. Shourds has been married to Christina Schaeffer Shourds ’13 for two years.

» Class of 2013

Paul D. Ciccarelli received his LL.M. from the UC Berkeley School of Law with Certificates of Specialization in Environmental Law and Energy & Clean Technology Law. Ciccarelli works as an enforcement attorney for the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento.

Dilan Hosseinpour recently established Design-Build Law, which primarily practices construction, real estate, employment, and intellectual property law. Hosseinpour’s prior experience in architecture and construction has attracted a wide array of clients to his new practice.

James P. Marion recently opened his own practice with offices in San Francisco and Berkeley, California.

Cassie S. Sadowitz accepted a position as deputy general counsel with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Daniel R. Wade serves as staff attorney with the nonprofit organization United Policyholders. Wade’s work includes submitting amicus curiae briefs in cases involving important insurance law principles and weighing in on pro-consumer legislation and public policy issues related to financial recovery from natural disasters.

» Class of 2014

Jason S. Sampas will have his paper from Professor James M. Cooper’s Comparative Law class (fall 2013) published in an upcoming edition of Southern Methodist University’s Law And Business Review of the Americas.