The legal and emotional reverberations from the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic last term—with momentous decisions on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act—may have emanated from our nation’s capital, but across the country in San Diego, they have
been keenly felt at California Western School of Law.
“For more than a lot of institutions and certainly most law schools, this thrilling historic term was extremely meaningful for many of us at California Western,” says Dean Niels B. Schaumann. “The faculty connections to the decisions as well as our school’s unique relationship with the court and its most influential member—Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy—have generated some extremely personal responses to the court’s decisions.”
There is no better example, Schaumann says, than Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Barbara J. Cox, who invested more than three decades of her life in the battle to achieve the right to marry for same-sex couples. Cox provides a first-person account of her remarkable rollercoaster journey.
“Barb is just one of our many faculty members who go beyond their traditional scholarly work and actually become involved in the critical issues of our day,” Schaumann says. “The passion of professors like William Aceves, who is having a major impact on human rights here and internationally, and James Cooper, who is helping to reform entire judicial systems in Latin America, not only leads to their work rising to the highest courts in the land, but ultimately helps real people on the ground. We couldn’t be more proud of their achievements.”
California Western is also fortunate to have a number of faculty members whose particular legal expertise makes them extremely astute observers of the Supreme Court and its decisions. Professor Glenn Smith, one of legal education’s top SCOTUS watchers, provides an overview of the last term, and Professor Susan Channick, a leading health care scholar, breaks down the ACA decision.
Finally, California Western enjoys a special relationship with the court through its Kennedy Scholars program. Created in cooperation with Justice Kennedy after he came to San Diego in 2000 to dedicate California Western’s new law library, the program supports academically high-achieving students with full tuition for all three years of their law school education. Once a year, the scholars visit the court and have lunch with Justice Kennedy.
“Justice Kennedy took a liking to California Western and what it stands for, and ever since, we’ve enjoyed a long and special relationship I believe is unique among law schools,” Schaumann says. “This wonderful association we have not only with a justice, but its most pivotal member, is one of the main reasons California Western feels such a strong connection to the Supreme Court.”
BY BARBARA J. COX
Cox is California Western School of Law’s Vice Dean for
Academic Affairs and Clara Shortridge Foltz Professor of Law
June 26, 2015 is truly a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. On that day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states.
For my spouse, Peg Habetler, and me and for thousands of other same-sex couples around the country, the news unleashed a flood of emotions and tears of joy. We celebrated the Supreme Court striking down the marriage bans in the remaining 13 states that continued to discriminate, and finally granting the right to marry to same-sex couples nationwide.
The historic decision was particularly poignant for me because it marked the culmination of a 32-year fight for justice that was both intensely personal and professional.
This fight was personal because Peg and I wanted to get married in 1992 and could not. It never seemed fair that my parents, sisters, and friends were free to marry, but, because I wanted to marry a woman, I was prohibited from exercising what I considered to be the fundamentalright of every American citizen.
We had a commitment ceremony in 1992 that remains our true “marriage” date although it had no legal significance.
Over the years we hoped to marry but instead were forced to register as domestic partners in California to receive any rights or recognition for our relationship, even though that status was “separate and [un]equal.”
Finally, in 2003, we were legally married in Canada, but our marriage was not recognized in California due to Prop 22, which was adopted in 2000, and refused recognition of marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions. Our marriage was frequently disrespected and we lived through another devastating initiative vote when Prop 8 passed in 2008 taking away the six months of recognition that we had earned following the California Supreme Court’s decision holding that marriages by same-sex couples were constitutionally protected. The Prop 8 vote left us feeling unsafe in our home state. In my professional life, as an openly lesbian law professor whose academic activities often focused on sexual orientation and the law, I knew I had to help fight this battle and hoped that I would be able to make a difference. Since 1983, I helped draft some of the earliest domestic partnership legislation, wrote numerous articles, made countless scholarly presentations, and testified many times before various state legislatures. Additionally, I joined the Board of Directors of Freedom to Marry in 2001 and have chaired or co-chaired the Board through 2016 when the organization will close, having achieved our single goal of obtaining marriage rights nationwide.
In the beginning, and for many years, it was a frustrating rollercoaster ride, but then slowly, very slowly, we began to turn the tide. It took two solid decades of intense effort, but over the last two years we finally built the kind of momentum it would take to persuade five Supreme Court justices to acknowledge that banning marriage for same sex couples was discriminatory under the 14th Amendment. In the end, much of our success can be attributed to our ability to change the hearts and minds of the “movable middle” of the American population, helping them accept the idea of marriage for same-sex couples, even if they did not actively support it.
I’m particularly pleased the Supreme Court’s decision recognized that LGBTQ people share in the same fundamental right to marry enjoyed by non-gay people. The court understood what we had been saying all along; we were not seeking the “right to same-sex marriage,” we were seeking “the right to marry.” The freedom to marry the person of one’s choice must not be limited by laws imposed by legislatures or popular vote and based solely on sex or sexual orientation.
This was a journey I did not take alone. I have to thank the many thousands of people across the U.S. who invested so much of their lives in the battle. Closer to home, I thank my spouse, Peg, who not only supported me through every up and down, but who has also been involved in the movement herself.
My deepest gratitude is for the role California Western played. I could never have accomplished what I did without the incredible and unwavering support of the deans I have worked with, my faculty colleagues, and our staff and students. More than two decades ago, California Western stood behind me when it was a much more controversial and dangerous time to be open and vocal about these issues. I never felt my job was in jeopardy like so many others who spoke up, and California Western regularly paid my expenses to travel and make scholarly presentations on this subject and attend Freedom to Marry Board meetings as part of my outside service.
As I look back on this amazing saga, I’m most proud of what it means for people like my gay nephew who grew up in Kentucky and so many other LGBTQ Americans. Thanks to our battle and the important Supreme Court decision, future same-sex couples will be able to marry, freed from the discrimination and legal barriers we were finally successful in tearing down.
Vice Dean Barbara Cox (right) with Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry, during the Fall Diversity Speaker event at California Western
Every U.S. Supreme Court term is interesting, but even longtime SCOTUS observer Professor Glenn C. Smith found the big decisions from the court’s last session exhilarating. “I have to say it was one of the most surprising and exciting terms I can remember,” says Smith, who runs a nationally recognized Supreme Court seminar for students at California Western.
“When you have one decision that opens the door to the key civil rights issue of our generation, and another that slams the door decisively for the second time on those trying to use the courts to undermine majority rule (the political process adopting Obamacare), that’s of more than usual importance.”
Smith, whose expertise focuses on the intersection of law, government, and politics, was particularly fascinated by the court’s reasoning in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that makes same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
“I thought the court would uphold the rights of same-sex marriage partners,” Smith says, “but I did not predict the majority would use such a broad, across-the- board theory of fundamental rights and decline to fall back on a safer legal theories that would have allowed the Court to
proceed more cautiously.” Smith adds, “I was surprised at the magnitude of the win in this case. Although Justice Kennedy had led a majority of the court in several cases supporting gay rights, he had been reluctant to call those rights ‘fundamental.’ Here he went out of his way to use the word. This was not just a case of count the votes and see which side wins. This case rose to a high level of legal theory that dramatically and rhetorically honors the strength and dignity of the rights involved.”
Smith was also surprised that six justices joined forces to throw out another challenge to the Affordable Care Act. “Most observers thought they would be fortunate to get five justices, but for both Kennedy and Roberts to come on board meant to me that they believed ‘enough is enough’ and that the Affordable Care Act should be allowed to carry out what Congress and the president intended.”
Given the two major decisions and two others—one supporting Arizona electoral reform and another upholding the privacy rights of hotels in making guest registries available to law enforcement—Smith believes some people will feel the court took a surprisingly liberal turn last term.
“Certainly, there were a number of liberal, or maybe a better word is progressive, decisions this term,” Smith says. “But no Supreme Court term can be viewed as the liberals won or the conservatives won. People often look at the court strictly through an ideological lens, but I think it’s a mistake to rely solely on that frame of reference. You have to look at every case the justices take on individually and analyze its unique legal merits. We could well see the next term’s decisions swing back the other way.”
Smith does emphasize, however, that who is appointed to the Supreme Court is critical.
“The close decisions we’ve been seeing in recent years should be an important reminder to voters, especially as we enter the election season that it’s important who is nominated to the Supreme Court, and therefore it’s important who the president is doing the nominating and who is in control of the Senate that will confirm future justices.
“I think it’s a sleeper issue that a lot of people should care more about,” Smith adds with a smile. “I’m tempted to create a bumper sticker that says, ‘2016: It’s All About the Court!’”
Professor Glenn Smith
Kennedy Scholars with Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Left to right: 3L Matthew C. Hardy, 3L Sabira Abdulhameed, 3L Jonathan “Peter” Bunnell, Associate Justice Kennedy, President and Dean Niels B. Schaumann, 2L Addie J. Stone, Rachel E. Moffitt ‘15, Vice Dean Barbara J. Cox, Adam B. Levine ‘15
The year 2000 was especially memorable at California Western because it marked the spectacular beginning of “the Kennedy Connection,” a unique relationship between a law school and a sitting justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had eagerly accepted California Western’s invitation to come to San Diego to dedicate the nation’s first new law library of the 21st century, so thoroughly enjoyed his campus visit that it resulted in a special friendship with the justice that is still going strong 15 years later.
“Justice Kennedy could have simply attended the dedication and gone back to Washington, but I think he was so intrigued by what he found at California Western, and impressed by what the school is trying to achieve, that he chose to become engaged with us on a much more personal level,” says Dean Niels B. Schaumann.
The most visible result of that relationship was the creation of the Justice Anthony Kennedy Scholarship program a few years after the dedication. Each year, a half dozen incoming California Western students with the highest academic credentials are selected as “Kennedy Scholars.” In addition to receiving free tuition and stipends for books and the bar exam, the scholars receive high-level clerkship and mentoring opportunities.
The jewel in the Kennedy Scholars program is the all-expenses-paid trip the students take to Washington, D.C. and the Supreme Court, where they hear oral arguments and then enjoy an intimate lunch with Justice Kennedy.
“It was an once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says former Kennedy Scholar Devin Sreecharana ’11, now an attorney with May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, P.C. in Phoenix. “I was taking Constitutional Law at the time, so observing oral arguments was remarkable, especially since we sat so close to the attorneys and justices.
“To top it all off, we had lunch with Justice Kennedy. Here was arguably one of the most influential people in the country making time to meet with us,” Sreecharana recalls. “He was very personable and genuinely interested in all of us and our interests. It was incredible that he talked to me about the basketball team at my alma mater, the University of Arizona, and then turned to the next student and discussed computer engineering.”
Sreecharana said the Kennedy Scholarship has been highly influential in his life. “During my years at California Western, being a Kennedy Scholar gave me early access to the dean and faculty members,” Sreecharana says. “And, receiving an outstanding free legal education not only assisted me financially, but it gave me the flexibility to accept unpaid internships that were key to landing the excellent position I have today.”
Current Kennedy Scholar Sabira Abdulhameed has similar feelings about the program.
“It’s the most unusual scholarship program I’ve been associated with,” says Abdulhameed, a third-year student at California Western. “With most scholarships the person they’re named for is usually deceased. Not only is Justice Kennedy very much alive, he’s actively engaged in supporting the program.”
The lunch with Justice Kennedy was equally exciting for Abdulhameed. “It was a surreal experience and one I’ll never forget,” she says. “Justice Kennedy was so warm and gracious and he made each of us feel special. To have such an incredible day at the place where equal justice is upheld and decisions are made that literally change the course of history was amazing.”
Abdulhameed will always be grateful for “the Kennedy connection.” “It’s a great honor to be a Kennedy Scholar,” Abdulhameed says. “I’m planning to become a public interest lawyer, so you can’t imagine how grateful I am that this program will enable me to graduate with a wonderful law degree and start my career with much less debt.”
Professor Susan Channick doesn’t mince words when she analyzes the Supreme Court decision last summer reaffirming the legality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): “It was a very weak case, a really foolish challenge, and I’m not surprised it failed.”
Channick, co-director of the Institute for Health Law Studies at California Western and one of nation’s top experts on health care issues, had predicted the court would rule against the challenge for more than a “First, you had a case brought by a conservative group that had trolled for and found some very questionable plaintiffs to challenge the legality of federal subsidies on the basis of admittedly ambiguous language in the law,” Channick says.
“Then, if you listened to the oral arguments and Justice Kennedy’s questions, you could see clearly that he was uncomfortable with the petitioners’ arguments. When he announced that he saw ‘a serious constitutional problem’ if Congress could compel states either to set up state-run health insurance exchanges or risk the loss of premium subsidies for their residents, I knew the challenge was in trouble.” And in fact, on June 24, 2015, the court in King v. Burwell ruled 6-3 to reject the challenge, stating that federal subsidies for health insurance premiums could be used in the 34 states which had not set up their own insurance exchanges. Chief Justice Roberts, joining Kennedy and the four liberal justices, wrote in the majority opinion: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not destroy them. If at all possible we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
Channick was somewhat surprised Roberts joined the others, but she called him an “expert chess player” with good reasons to support the decision.
“I suspect that even the Chief Justice found the challenge a bit distasteful, and since he’s concerned about his legacy, I don’t think he wanted to be associated with a ruling that would have eliminated health care coverage for millions of Americans,” Channick says. “He has also been consistently pro-business, and this ruling certainly favored the large insurance companies whose stocks rose sharply following the decision.
“In the end, the challenge, as weak as it was, hopefully has had the effect of strengthening
Obamacare,” Channick says.
“This was just the latest in a series of challenges intended to undermine the ACA,” she says. “With this most recent victory, I believe the inevitable future challenges will also fail, finally guaranteeing certainty of access to affordable health care for all U.S. residents.”
Professor Susan Channick
Left to right: Traffic Court Clinic Director Coleen M. Cusack ’92, 3L Nate Jenkins, and 3L Julia Yu
Those words were music to the ears of San Diego State University senior Britney Finley as she stood in traffic court before Commissioner Corrine Miesfeld. Next to Finley was a defense team from California Western’s Traffic Court Clinic and it was music to their ears as well.
When the police officer who wrote her a speeding ticket didn’t show up in court, Finley’s case was automatically dismissed. However, had the officer shown up, 3L Julia Yu had a solid defense prepared to fight the speeding charge.
Not every case is won so easily, but appearances like this are valuable for traffic court clinic students like Yu. “This is real-world experience, with a real judge and real clients,” she says.
The clinic, directed by Adjunct Professor Coleen M. Cusack ’92, not only gives students court experience, but free legal representation to drivers who appear in traffic court.
“Motorists are represented for no charge by law students who are certified by the State Bar, undergo extensive training, and are supervised by a licensed attorney,” says Cusack.
The Traffic Court Clinic is much more than a learning opportunity for the students—it offers a real and tangible benefit to the community. Even though motorists have the right to an attorney, few are able to afford one. Many traffic defendants feel powerless when they are alone facing a judge and police officer.
“I have enjoyed watching the students grow and learn. They enter the class with fear and trepidation and it’s exciting to watch their confidence
develop,” Cusack says.
Nothing builds a traffic clinic student’s confidence like hearing the court commissioner say: “case dismissed.”
California Western hosted three groups of Latin American lawyers and judges in August and September for our training programs, deepening the law school’s legal ties to several Spanish-speaking nations in the Americas.
In all, the law school hosted more than 200 Latin American lawyers and judges for the courses.
The inaugural class in the LL.M. in Trial Advocacy for Spanish-speaking lawyers returned for a gala graduation celebration a year after its initial weeklong stay in 2014.
“I am so proud to graduate our first class of LL.M. students,” says Professor Justin Brooks, director of the program. “I’ve seen tremendous improvement in their skills over the past year and am confident they are prepared to serve their clients throughout Latin America.”
The second class in the program also arrived at California Western to begin their studies and the group of nearly 100 students was three times larger than the inaugural class. Also this fall, a third group spent the weekend at California Western for a class in advanced trial skills.
These courses are part of California Western’s ACCESO Capacitación, which consists of training courses for Latin American lawyers and judges in the oral advocacy skills required to create reformed judicial systems in their countries— modeled on the U.S. adversarial legal system.
California Western plays a key role in reform at the ground level by training lawyers to deal with all of the changes in judicial systems throughout the region.
“The impact of this program will be felt for years to come,” says Brooks.
California Western mourns the passing of the Hon. Jerry J. Kaufman ’65 on August 2, 2015.
A longtime member of the Council of Visitors, Kaufman’s pride as an alumnus was resolute. He was an enthusiastic ambassador for the law school and a committed donor to its programs.
More importantly, Kaufman and his fiancée Lindsay Cao treated California Western like family, with a warmth and generosity that will be missed— but forever treasured.
Jack of All Trades: A Gentleman and a Scholar
Jerry “Jack” Kaufman, an “old school nice guy” according to friends and relatives, was much more than a prominent attorney and judge. He also held a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Westminster College in Salt Lake City—
where he was an adjunct professor and served on the board.
After graduating from California Western, Kaufman began work as a government attorney in Nevada. He spent most of his 50-year career providing legal advice to political and business leaders, and was one of the five founding members of the firm Jones, Jones, Close, Bilbray and Kaufman.
Kaufman served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and took on pro bono cases for veterans when he could. He held leadership positions with various charitable organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, the March of Dimes, and the American Red Cross. He also loved to ski, and play baseball and tennis.
While law, philanthropy, and athletics were close to his heart, Lindsay Cao was his one true love. In fact, he planned to marry her on his 80th birthday in September, and then retire, at her request. “He never stopped,” Cao says. “His whole life, he worked hard.”
In addition to Lindsay, Kaufman is survived by his two children, Sandi Raines and Keith Kaufman, as well as his grandson, Matthew Raines.
A memorial service was held at the Spanish Trail Country Club in Las Vegas, where Kaufman was a member for more than 20 years.
Hon. Jerry J. Kaufman ’65
California Western alumnus Jim Dwyer ’87 joined his father’s law practice soon after graduation, fulfilling a lifelong dream to work as an attorney like his dad. Dwyer’s practice thrived, but after nine years, he became so miserable that he walked away from it all thinking: “There has to be more to it than this.”
His search to find what was missing brought him to the point where he is today—managing partner of a successful personal injury practice in Portland, Oregon, and a rising voice in the growing integrative law movement who is helping attorneys integrate their work and their personal lives.
“For me, integrative law is about using elements of the practice of law to live our best lives possible as attorneys,” say Dwyer.
As a part-time blogger, author, and speaker, Dwyer rises at 4:00 a.m. most mornings to share his insights. He’s driven by his intimate understanding of the personal struggles that can plague even the best of attorneys.
Jim Dwyer '87
HOW DWYER FOUND HIS “SWEET SPOT”
Seventeen years ago, when Dwyer found himself incredibly unhappy at his dad’s firm, “I thought I had hermetically sealed off my unhappiness at work from the rest of my life, and I woke up one day realizing I had deceived myself. It was affecting everything.”
Finally, with his wife’s full support, he quit. Battling looming financial insecurity and self-doubt, Dwyer began cold calling Portland-area attorneys one by one to arrange lunch. “I interviewed literally 39 attorneys looking for the right place for me. None of the lawyers knew I was interviewing them. I called them and said, ‘I’m moving up to Portland from Eugene and don’t know the legal community very well. Could I take you to lunch and learn a little more from you?’”
Finally one day, magic happened. “Halfway through lunch with the 39th attorney, I thought, ‘I want to work with this guy.’”
These kindred spirits have practiced law together since 1998.
Dwyer started paying attention to the “sweet spots” during his day when he felt good. He learned his happiness came from truly connecting with his clients. So at work, he said, “I just started seeking out as many of these moments as I could.”
THE “SECRET” OF LIFE-WORK BALANCE
What Dwyer has learned is that strong client and personal relationships share many common elements—care, loyalty, and full and frank disclosure. In fact, he says, “the practice of law can be a complement to each one of us as attorneys living our best lives.
“So many of the skills we use in our professional lives we don’t apply to ourselves,” says Dwyer. “Not being afraid of conflict. Not afraid to lose. Good at risk analysis. Being well prepared.
“Frankly, if we apply these skills to our personal lives, it’s amazingly powerful,” he says. “When we are advancing our inner life, we are also giving to the ones who mean the most to us.”
Dwyer suggests understanding your sweet spots, “those moments when you feel an experience resonating deep inside yourself. By understanding myself better, I was able to start bringing that into the daily practice of law.”
Jim Dwyer’s website, dedicated to lawyers’ personal and professional fulfillment through the practice of law, can be found at tipping-the-scales.com. Dwyer also recommends watching the TED Talk on leadership by Simon Sinek.
Dean Niels Schaumann (left) with Distinguished Alumni Award winners Tammy Sumontha ’00, Charles R. Grebing ’70, the Hon. Karen S. Crawford ’80, and Michael A. Semanchik ’10
California Western’s second annual Distinguished Alumni of the Year Awards and Reunion Celebration showcased what it means to be a graduate of the law school and the spirit of pride at the event could not have been more evident.
Hundreds of alumni, faculty, administration, family, and friends of the law school gathered at The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter on September 26, 2015 to honor this year’s awardees
at a ceremonial reception, dinner, and awards program—the best attendance the event has ever had.
The honorees spoke of the strong principles the law school instills in students and how these principles have influenced their successful careers.
California Innocence Project staff attorney Michael A. Semanchik ’10 was presented with the 2015 Rising Star Award for his exceptional accomplishments.
Tammy Sumontha ’00 was presented with the 2015 Outstanding Community Service Award for her volunteer work at ACCESS Inc., an organization that provides job training, education, empowerment opportunities, and immigration assistance to low-income residents.
The 2015 Outstanding Judicial Officer Award was given to the Hon. Karen Shichman Crawford ’80, a United States District Court magistrate judge.
Charles R. Grebing ’70, honored with the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award, is senior partner at Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie, and has been honored frequently for his accomplishments and leadership in the legal profession.
The successful evening also marked a reunion celebration for several classes of California Western alumni. The third annual Distinguished Alumni of the Year
Awards and Reunion Celebration will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016. Nominations begin January 2016.
David Cohen ’04 and Cassie Sadowitz ’12
Just how did California Western School of Law graduate Cassie Sadowitz ’12 go from interning at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team to working as an associate counsel at the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then landing a job as deputy general counsel at the Jacksonville Jaguars—all in four years?
There were two reasons for the amazing start of Sadowitz’ sports law career: most importantly, she’s talented, hardworking, and dedicated. But the other factor is that she had some invaluable assistance from alumnus, David Cohen ’04, who hired her as an intern when he was at the Angels, and then made her his number two when he became general counsel at the Buccaneers.
The role Cohen played in boosting Sadowitz is a great example of the benefits that flow from a strong alumni network, says Assistant Dean Courtney Miklusak ’98, who leads the school’s Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO). Miklusak says alumni networks play an increasingly important and necessary role in one’s career development, given the highly competitive nature of today’s legal job market.
“Whether it is a fondness for their alma mater or a desire to give back, countless California Western alumni across the country are going out of their way to help our students and fellow graduates,” Miklusak says. “These relationships can be a huge win-win because they can be beneficial to both parties. At times, these relationships can be life-changing for the student or alumni receiving help, and extremely rewarding for those who open the doors, offer advice, or even provide a job opportunity. And it continues to enhance California Western’s reputation regionally and nationally as a source of outstanding lawyers.”
Indeed, America’s best-known law schools have long been known for their strong alumni networks, which extend not only to initial hiring of recent graduates but often support the complete arc of graduates’ careers. The “old school tie” has rarely been more important than it is today.
No one understands the concept better than Cohen, who says he goes out of his way to find and interview job candidates among California Western alumni.
“As with Cassie, I always hire the best person. When you can also find a way to help others who come from where you did, it’s a real bonus. It also helps remove much of the uncertainty in hiring,” Cohen says. “I understand what they learned at school, and I know the great skills they developed. Everyone I’ve hired from California Western has been exceptional. I’m not just saying that because I went there.”
No one is more appreciative of Cohen’s assistance than Sadowitz.
“From day one, David afforded me the opportunity to challenge myself and learn my skill set from a sports law veteran. I’m so grateful he took a chance and invested in my professional development. David’s still a mentor today, both professionally and personally, and I think that’s one of reasons I’ve been eager to provide the same kind of mentoring to other students and alumni through the CPDO at California Western.”
Adam Levine ’15 and Anjela Jae Chun ’06
Angela Jae Chun ’06, an attorney at CaseyGerry in San Diego, shares a similar enthusiasm for helping students and alumni. Several years ago when she was flooded with applications for a law clerk position, Chun found the perfect candidate in Adam Levine ’15, who went from law clerk to clinical intern to full-time associate at the firm this past summer.
“The fact that Adam went to California Western was definitely a plus. California Western was so good to me in the excellent education and on-the-job training I received and this was one way I could give back,” Chun says. “But I wasn’t going to pick someone on that alone. The candidate had to have outstanding grades, a great work ethic, and a great personality. Adam has all of that and has quickly become a really valuable member of our team.”
Levine, who spent a decade as an architect before going to California Western, believes alumni connections are important, but says it takes more than that “to seal the deal.” Says Levine, “The more alumni connections you can make, the better, and they can definitely help you get a foot in the door. Angela and I had a connection through our shared California Western experience that helped our working relationship get off to the right start. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have her guidance while transitioning from school to practice, and to have the opportunity to learn from such a talented attorney. While the alumni connection helps to open doors, in the end, competence is king and you have to prove yourself through hard work no matter where you went to school.”
Sue Torke ’10 and Art Samora ’96
Career help from the alumni network is not limited to providing a job opportunity. Referrals, mentorship, and career consultation can all be invaluable, says the CPDO’s Miklusak. Art Samora ’96 and Sue Torke ’10, patent attorneys at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, located in Point Loma, are excellent examples. Torke met Samora when he first interviewed her for an internship position. All final hiring decisions are made on the East Coast, so these two alumni have found other ways to assist current students and alumni.
“I’m a team-oriented person and since California Western is my team, I want to help the school in any way I can,” Samora says. “I enjoy providing industry perspective and career advice to alumni and future alumni through California Western’s Student Intellectual Property Association. I can’t actually hand people a job, but I can sure equip them with the tools to find a job, whether it’s showing them how to prepare an effective IP writing sample or how to efficiently access public databases to find those mom-and-pop boutique IP firms that are actually looking to hire IP attorneys.”
Torke has chosen membership on California Western’s Alumni Association Board of Directors as her way of helping fellow graduates. Torke is also the chair of the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Awards Committee.
Says Torke, “Serving on the board gives me a lot of different ways to help our alumni. One of the board’s best features is our informal but highly effective network. Board members rely on their own networks and fellow alums to monitor the job market and match alums to specific job opportunities. I’ve always felt a strong allegiance to California Western, and with there being two other law schools in town and a very tight job market, it’s always exciting when you can help a California Western student or alum with his or her career.”
That is an emotion David Cohen feels often these days. When he got together with Sadowitz earlier this season at the Buccaneers-Jaguars game, Cohen was reminded of just how pleased he is about Sadowitz’ career and how proud he is to have contributed to its launch.
“It’s only a matter of time before Cassie becomes a team general counsel. I couldn’t be more thrilled about her career development,” Cohen says. “Helping Cassie and other California Western students and alumni is one of the most satisfying things I do. I truly believe our legacy in life lies not within ourselves but in those we help.”
This past spring, California Western held its first ever Law Firm Challenge, a community-based alumni engagement campaign that helps renew the bond between the law school and its alumni, and promotes California Western within the legal community.
Firms employing two or more California Western alumni were challenged to achieve 100 percent alumni giving from May 15 to June 30. Fourteen firms and 117 alumni participated in the challenge, resulting in an overall alumni participation rate of 91 percent and raising more than $12,000 in support of the law school and its programs.
Thank you to all of our teams—and especially their team captains—for making our first year such a success! We would like to extend a special congratulations to Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP for generating the most financial support for the law school, and to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for having the highest number of alumni participate in the challenge.
We are looking forward to our second annual Law Firm Challenge in 2016, and we hope you will join us! For more information, please contact Melissa Wells, associate director of development, annual fund, at 619-515-1548 or email@example.com.
Deputy District Attorneys Marcella McLaughlin ’98 and Christopher Lawson ’05
Higgs Fletcher contributors Christina Bobb ’08, Brian Cook, Regina Knoll ’05, Rahil Swigart ’03, Tim Waters ’77, and Gerissa Conforti ’09
California Western School of Law and the Hawaii Regional Alumni Association Club are joining forces to raise funds for students from the Hawaiian Islands—the first scholarship at the law school created by alumni in support of students from their own region.
Fueled by private philanthropy from alumni and other friends of California Western, this effort — known as the Kulia i ka nu'u Scholarship Program — will enablethe school to award meaningful support to individuals of great promise who were born in Hawaii and have lived there a minimum of 10 years. Recipients of the scholarship will have demonstrated the spirit conveyed in the native Hawaiian proverb Kulia i ka nu'u (strive for the summit or highest point possible), with preference given to students who are able to demonstrate commitment to service in the community.
In conjunction with this fundraising effort, Han P. Ching ’74 and his wife, Meredith, have made a substantial pledge to establish the Han P. and Meredith J. Ching Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will support Hawaiian students with the Kulia i ka nu'u spirit for many generations to come. The Han P. and Meredith J. Ching Endowed Scholarship Fund is the first named endowment fund to be established as part of the larger Hawaiian scholarship program.
“This support from Han and Meredith represents one of the most generous scholarship gifts ever made on behalf of students bound for California Western,” says President and Dean Niels B. Schaumann. “It serves as a prime example of how our alumni and friends—not only those in Hawaii but everywhere—can make an important investment in our school and our students.”
» Class of 1964
Douglas F. Webb attended his 50th reunion celebration with classmate James V. Dorman, and currently practices probate law while finding time to swim in the Senior Olympics.
» Class of 1966
Russell J. Kirk lives full-time in Idaho, hikes every day with his Labrador named Kate, and is involved in commercial real estate.
» Class of 1967
After serving the Central Coast for 47 years, Ralph W. Thompson III announced his retirement and the closing of his law office in September. Ralph will maintain his active State Bar license and provide ADR services as a mediator, arbitrator, and discovery referee.
» Class of 1970
Ronald B. Schwartz was named in the 2015 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America for his accomplishments in personal injury litigation, marking the 10th consecutive year he has been selected.
» Class of 1974
United States District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia was appointed Chair of the 9th CircuitCourt of Appeals Jury Trial Improvement Committee by the Chief Judge of the Circuit. Judge Battaglia was also elected by the district judges in the 9th Circuit to serve as their representative on the board of the Federal Judges Association.
Bill Slomanson received the Uncommon Individual Foundation Award for his work in Blended (print and electronic) Learning, was named Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s 1L Teacher of the Year, and received the San Diego Law Library Foundation’s Bernard E. Witkin Excellence in Legal Education Award.
» Class of 1976
Timothy E. Fields is performing extensive expert witness work on real estate, banking, title, and escrow issues, claiming that “It’s a good time to be an experienced real estate attorney.”
» Class of 1978
Linda J. Conrad, a partner at the boutique appellate firm Sargeant & Conrad, has opened a second office in Sacramento.
Ivan “Michael” Tucker practices in the areas of Medicaid planning, asset protection planning, estate planning, probate administration, and trust administration. Ivan has been happily married to his wife Susan of 32 years, with whom he has two sons.
Lynda B. Unkeless returned to her job at Community Action Marin in San Rafael, California after being diagnosed with and treated for two benign brain tumors. She plans to publish a book in 2016 based on blog posts about her experience.
» Class of 1980
David Sheinfeld serves as managing director at Horizon Business Advisors, LLC, and senior advisor at Dentons law firm in Dallas.
» Class of 1981
Richard J. Puleo obtained a court order from the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York permitting victims of the WexTrust fraud to take legal action against the court-appointed receiver for malpractice, despite objections from the receiver and the Securities Exchange Commission.
Charles J. Szlenker is happily retired in Arlington, Virginia.
» Class of 1982
Mark S. Garber supervises the workers compensation and social security disability department at Spevack Law Offices in Iselin, New Jersey, and serves as vice president of the New Jersey Advisory Council of Occupational Safety and Health.
Ken Greenfield is celebrating 33 years in practice, and his 28th as owner of the Law Offices of Kenneth N. Greenfield in San Diego. Ken serves on the board of directors of the San Diego Branch of the American Board of Trial Advocates as treasurer, and continues to actively try cases.
» Class of 1983
The syndicated television program “Cold Justice” selected one of John L. Bord’s cases to be featured on the show, which aired nationally in August.
Brian P. Funk is completing a successful year as president of the San Diego County Bar Foundation, which has provided grants in excess of $2 million to nonprofits that provide access to justice to San Diego’s underserved.
» Class of 1984
David E. Czelusniak received an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, representing acknowledgement by his peers of a high rating of legal ability and ethical standards.
The Law Offices of Robert G. Lewis P.C. recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and Lewis was appointed as a Judge Pro Tempore of the Pima County Superior Court in Tucson, Arizona.
» Class of 1985
Vincent F. Aiello recently completed his fourth novel, Faith Full, an action thriller set in San Diego. He is the author of three previous bestsellers, Legal Detriment, The Litigation Guy, and Legion’s Lawyers.
Stacy L. Taylor recently became cochair of DLA Piper’s global medical device practice in Seattle, where she devotes her time to patent protection of technologies for other device companies in the area, as well as their financing and strategic transactions. Taylor also serves as pro bono general counsel to The Arc of the United States (formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens).
Donn-Allan G. Titus serves as the counselor for political and economic affairs at the United States Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia.
» Class of 1989
Rhonda Stern (Murphy) relocated her office after 20 years in downtown Fresno, California, to the city’s Fig Garden neighborhood.
» Class of 1990
Annette M. Ahlers has joined the Los Angeles office of Pepper Hamilton LLP as of counsel in their tax department. She specializes in mergers and acquisitions and corporate tax consulting for large and mid-size corporations.
» Class of 1991
Carrie McCrea Hanlon has joined the San Diego firm of Morris Sullivan Lemkul & Pitegoff in its Las Vegas office.
Carla A. Lawless was honored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness for a presentation regarding issues that affect that population and their families. Carla was also recognized by her firm—McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago—for a year of outstanding pro bono work, particularly a clinic she runs for a homeless shelter system.
Alanna C. Williams (Einhorn) was named one of the “Top 100 Lawyers” in Virginia by The National Advocates in 2014 and 2015.
» Class of 1993
Douglas R. Kay is president of the Fairfax Bar Association (FBA) in Fairfax, Virginia. The FBA is a voluntary bar association with about 2,000 members located in Northern Virginia.
After four years, 55 court hearings, and more than 60 motions, Joshua D. Mackenroth obtained a $170,000 verdict for his client in a wrongful termination case following a 12-day jury trial in Northern California.
In January 2014, Shawn Payment retired from the legal profession after 20 years as a litigator and later as a professional legal administrator. Since retiring, he spends his days traveling, running, sailing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
» Class of 1994
David O’Barr was recently appointed senior assistant city attorney in charge of all misdemeanor prosecutions in the City of Anaheim.
Kristina Wildeveld secured the release of an inmate—who was sentenced at age 14 to 40 years to life in 1998—this past January after serving 17 years. Wildeveld worked on legislation to have juvenile life without the possibility of parole successfully eliminated in the State of Nevada and is currently working on legislation to accomplish the same feat nationwide.
» Class of 1995
After practicing for 20 years in the areas of labor, employment, and ERISA, most recently with Ogletree Deakins, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, and Epstein Becker & Green, Daniel P. Jett opened his own employment litigation practice, The Jett Law Firm, APC, in San Marino, California in October.
» Class of 1996
Alexandra M. Alvarez was promoted to supervising deputy attorney general of the San Diego Health Quality Enforcement Section, Office of the Attorney General of California.
» Class of 1997
Monica Reinmiller (Alcantar) joined Sutherland Global as the global director of Ethics and Corporate Compliance and Counsel, and was appointed chair of the Pro Bono Committee for the Washington chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, for which she also serves on the board of directors.
» Class of 1998
April C. Ball is Thomson Reuters’ senior attorney editor for California and New York business and commercial transactions, and serves as of counsel at Epperly & Elam, LLP.
Renee Botham, senior counsel at the law firm of Balestreri Potocki & Holmes, has been elected president of the San Diego Association of Insurance Professionals for the 2015-2016 term.
David Crowe, a trial lawyer in Athens, Georgia for 25 years, has written a book titled Murderers, Madmen and Lunatics. These three fictional stories are a comical and at times irreverent foray into the underbelly of personal injury and criminal defense law.
» Class of 1999
Jenny L. Doling was named professor of Bankruptcy Law for the California Desert Trial Academy, and appointed state chair for Central California of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
Victoria J. Haneman joined Concordia University School of Law last year as professor, helping theinstitution win provisional approval from the ABA. Haneman teaches mostly tax law, and chairs the Institutional Research and Strategic Planning Committee and the Faculty Evaluation and Retention Committee.
Amy J. Lepine received the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego Outstanding Trial Attorney Award for an excessive force case that she tried against the City of San Diego in 2013.
» Class of 2000
Amy Carlson was recently made partner at Employment Rights Attorneys.
Bonnie Lutz was appointed chair of the Animal Law Committee of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.
David Sheen was elected vice president of the East Bay Chapter for the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association.
Natalie P. Vance was named a “Top Lawyer” for 2015 by Sacramento Magazine for her exemplary practice in general litigation.
» Class of 2001
Ermila A. Martinez recently celebrated her family and criminal law firm’s fifth anniversary.
» Class of 2002
Imran Anwar became a partner of the law firm of Rogers, Mastrangelo, Carvalho & Mitchell, specializing in personal injury and insurance defense.
Elizabeth Covil (Aruta) recently qualified in the United Kingdom as a solicitor of England and Wales.
Franklin D. Garrett is the president and chief executive officer of MACK Construction Group, an engineering, construction, and project management firm based in San Antonio.
Chris W. Goodroe is celebrating the third year of the Law Offices of C.W. Goodroe, where the primary focus is representing maritime clients who have suffered shipboard injuries.
David C. Scott has received an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell annually since 2012, and was named a “Top Lawyer” in San Diego for Real Estate by San Diego Magazine in their March 2013-2015 editions.
As the director of The Rocky ADA Center, Rachael Stafford (Ganatta) recently hosted former Congressman Patrick Kennedy at the U.S. Olympic Training Center to comment on the state of mental health law, after which she was immediately invited to speak with the White House about issues facing people with disabilities and the state of disability law. Additionally, Stafford was an invitee to President Obama’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the passing of the ADA.
» Class of 2003
Angelica A. Rivera was promoted to the major crimes unit at the Fresno County Public Defender's Office, becoming part of a nineattorney team—three of whom are California Western alumni.
» Class of 2004
Ilona Antonyan recently formed the family law firm Antonyan Miranda, LLP. Antonyan also began teaching a Family Law class this semester at California Western.
Kelly L. Hinds (Greenman) has been admitted as a named partner of the firm Greenman, Lacy, Klein, Hinds, Weiser & Heffron, practicing in the area of probate, trusts, and estates. She also welcomed her second child, Charlie Jane Hinds, who is the granddaughter of Kenneth L. Greenman, Jr. ’71.
Michael R. Pick, Jr. has his own firm in San Luis Obispo, California that focuses on real property, business, and probate.
» Class of 2005
Jorge A. Galiber has been assigned at the major French petroleum group TOTAL’s headquarters in Paris, joining the International Commerce Department as senior legal counsel in order to provide counseling to internal clients.
Robert S. Marticello, a partner at Smiley Wang-Ekvall, LLP in Southern California, has been installed as president of the California Bankruptcy Forum.
Annamarie S. Martin (Slikker) and her husband, Josh, welcomed their first child, a son, in March 2015. In August, Anna celebrated her second anniversary as regulatory counsel for FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
Elan N. Stone recently started his own firm, Stone Law, P.C., in which he will specialize in plaintiffs' work (business, personal injury, products liability employment, et al.), and general litigation matters. He has offices in both Los Angeles and Orange County.
» Class of 2006
Frann Setzer was elected to the board of directors of Lawyers Club of San Diego.
Kurt A. Weiser has been admitted as a named partner of the firm Greenman, Lacy, Klein, Hinds, Weiser & Heffron, practicing in the area of probate, trusts, and estates.
» Class of 2007
Christina M. Cameron has become a shareholder at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. Cameron joined the firm in 2008, following a 19-year career as a policy advisor for various City of San Diego elected officials.
Sarah Gedulin (Lewis) is currently practicing family law in North County San Diego.
» Class of 2008
Christian M. Morris was recently married to Dr. Brent Burnette in Maine, and is currently on the American Association of Justice Board of Governors.
Ingrid M. Patin started Patin Law Group, PLLC, where she primarily handles personal injury matters.
Hansdeep Singh recently presented at the South Pacific Lawyers Conference in Brisbane, Australia. On behalf of ICAAD, Singh presented case law analysis, done in partnership with DLA Piper, on more than 900 cases in the Pacific Island region focusing on the impact of gender stereotypes and cultural norms on sentencing decisions in domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
Elizabeth J. Stevens has joined Caplin & Drysdale’s International Tax practice.
William Walsh is a government relations consultant and lobbyist at Government Strategies, Inc. in Warwick, Rhode Island, and practices law at the Providence firm Moses Afonso Ryan, Ltd.
» Class of 2009
After serving four years as assistant district attorney at the Nassau County District Attorney's Office in Long Island, Timothy McNutt accepted a position as an assistant attorney general for the State of New York in the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau.
Matthew J. Mesnik opened Mesnik Law Group, Inc. this year, serving clients in San Diego with family law and step-parent adoption cases.
» Class of 2010
Kris Cherevas joined the law firm of Cozen O'Connor, practicing subrogation law in the San Diego office.
Vanessa L. DeNiro (Olivarez) recently accepted a position at Jay Goodman & Associates in Santa Fe, New Mexico practicing civil litigation.
Angela M. Jenkins recently celebrated her first anniversary working for Greenman, Lacy, Klein, Hinds, Weiser, & Heffron. She specializes in estate planning, trusts, and probate.
Sara A. Simmons was elected to the board of directors of Lawyers Club of San Diego, where she previously served as co-chair of the Equality and Action Committee which hosted Lawyers Club's annual Equal Pay Day Luncheon.
After spending three years representing parents in juvenile dependency hearings in Sacramento, Julie O. Wolff returned to San Diego to represent children at the Dependency Legal Group.
» Class of 2011
Classmates Craig Benner and Brett Boon formed Benner & Boon, LLP, offering a wide variety of legal services primarily for plaintiffs, with a specialization in environmental law, personal injury, and the Defense Base Act.
Nicholas J. De Blouw is working on litigation against the City of San Diego to clean up the rocks adjacent to La Jolla Cove where sea lions congregate and deposit waste material.
Michele N. Kumaus married Frank J. Barone ’96 on September 5, 2015. Both are deputy public defenders at the San Diego County Office of the Public Defender.
Amy Luo served as lead counsel for the first labor contract negotiations of a 200-plus bargaining unit of bikeshare employees in New York City. This is the first instance of any bikeshare program employees in the nation receiving a labor contract, and the collective bargaining agreement will now serve as a template for the franchise in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
Kevin L. Metros is an associate at Reback, McAndrews, Kjar, Warford & Stockalper, practicing in the field of medical malpractice defense litigation out of their Manhattan Beach office.
Yunuen B. Mora began working at the Law Office of Lilia S. Velasquez ’81.
Ashley M. Peterson recently established the Law Office of Ashley M. Peterson in San Diego, where she specializes in real estate transactions and litigation, including landlord and tenant issues, commercial and residential real property purchases, commercial and residential leases, property due diligence, and zoning and permitting.
Heather Pollock is executive director and staff attorney for Girls Think Tank, a nonprofit devoted to homeless advocacy, providing legal referral clinics, legal education workshops, and free storage to people without a home.
Lindsey J. Resha is currently working as an analyst for Hill International.
Ruth Ryan-Cruz founded Ryan-Cruz Law, APC in San Diego in June 2015, and currently serves on the California Western Alumni Association Board of Directors.
» Class of 2012
Samuel C. Doak has been a deputy public defender in Maricopa County, Arizona, since March 2015.
Amy Hsiao was awarded “Family Business Lawyer” designation by the national Family Wealth Planning Institute, and lobbied in Congress for the democracy of Taiwan and interest in the Asia-Pacific region by the U.S. Hsiao spoke with the offices of Congress members Barbara Boxer, Ted Lieu, Dana Rohrabacher, Alan Lowenthal, Judy Chu, and Brad Sherman.
Brandon M. Kammer recently relocated with his family to Portland, Oregon, and accepted a position with Hart Wagner, a medical malpractice defense law firm.
Mark D. Kesten is an associate at Kuznetsky Law Group, P.C. in Hollywood, practicing entertainment law and civil litigation.
Diana Lubeck (Bradasch) is now practicing family law in Orange County, where they finished a remodel of the boutique law firm in Laguna Beach.
Tiffany Scott is celebrating three years as a San Diego County deputy district attorney.
Christopher B. Shourds celebrates his second anniversary with Greenman, Lacy, Klein, Hinds, Weiser & Heffron as an associate attorney in the probate, trusts, and estates department.
» Class of 2013
Cedric W. Anderson is currently working as in-house counsel at Connor Group, a technical accounting firm.
Jeffrey Jaeger recently opened the Law Offices of Jeffrey Jaeger, CHTD in Las Vegas.
» Class of 2014
Christina A. Alkire serves as general counsel for a company that provides substance abuse treatment in various capacities, such as residential, sober living, and outpatient.
Alyn B. Beauregard recently accepted a position as a law clerk for the Hon. M. Faith Angell of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Nicholas A. Becerra decided to start a solo-practice law firm this year, focusing on assisting startups and small business owners as they work to build their businesses.
Laura M. Coey was hired by the Tulare County District Attorney's Office in May 2015.
Matthew T. Drenan earned his LL.M. in Admiralty from Tulane University Law School, with distinction, in spring 2015. Drenan is an associate at Clyde & Co LLP in Newport Beach, focusing primarily on maritime and energy litigation.
Tomer T. Gutman is enjoying work at Worden Williams APC, doing trust administration and litigation.
Rene Potter (Feldman) is a plaintiff’s attorney at Potter Handy, LLP, a civil rights litigation firm that represents persons with disabilities, and handles consumer protection, class actions, and employment cases.
Nhien T. Tran is currently working with Legal Aid Society of Orange County.
» Class of 2015
Rosa I. Acevedo currently serves as a law clerk with local immigration firm Guerra & Johnson, P.C.
Ramesses S. Surban is a post-bar law clerk with the business litigation firm Mazzarella & Mazzarella LLP, where he has been offered an associate position upon bar admittance.
After passing the bar, Erik N. Weber is now completing research projects at the Law Offices of Schwartz & Storey and attending mediations. Weber began mentoring a Crawford High School Law Academy student in October, and continues to collect medals by competing in as many 5Ks and half marathons as possible.
Maigan Wright currently works at Scripps Health as a risk management coordinator.