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A Value-Added Proposition
Producing Practice-Ready Lawyers
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A Value-Added Proposition

Producing Practice-Ready Lawyers


It was a remarkable and amazingly swift collapse of a century-old tradition: the practice of hiring law school graduates and having clients subsidize their on-the-job-training for a year or two virtually vanished in the space of five years, thanks to economic and technological issues buffeting the field of law.

For California Western, however, that sea change was the best news possible for an institution that already had established an excellent reputation for producing practice-ready graduates.

“We saw the crisis in legal education coming several years before it hit,” says Dean Niels B. Schaumann. “Specifically, we realized the new economic realities meant that the days were numbered in which law schools could rely only on providing an academic and theoretical education and ignore practical considerations. That gave us a tremendous head start on further enhancing our practical education capabilities.”

He adds, “That investment in practical education has already paid dividends, as California Western today holds a strong competitive advantage both in recruiting students and placing our graduates with employers, while other law schools are scrambling to retool.”

In the pages that follow, we’ll explore the elements of California Western’s drive for excellence in practical education. Among them: the enhancement of a core educational program that establishes a firm foundation in the theory and principles of law, and then assists the student in moving into experiential opportunities through which they can customize their curricular and clinical educational objectives.

We’ll look at how California Western’s extensive career and professional development efforts are producing practice-ready lawyers.

Finally you’ll hear from several satisfied employers who have hired California Western graduates with outstanding results. After all, the ultimate test of the school’s practice-ready approach is how well the graduates do when they get their first job. If the words of a distinguished local attorney hold any weight, that approach is working extremely well.

“I’ve hired many California Western grads over the years and they all come with a strong set of practical skills, along with a fire in their belly to succeed,” says Michael Whitton, managing partner of the San Diego office of Troutman Sanders, a 600-lawyer international firm. “What’s exciting is that with California Western’s push in practical education, firms like ours will have access to higher-performing junior associates we can rely on from day one.”


A Value-Added Proposition

Comprehensive Curriculum Bolsters Pipeline to Practice

What does it mean to be a lawyer in the 21st century?

There is no one answer to such a complex question, but over the past couple of years, California Western has ambitiously tackled the foundational challenge of figuring out exactly how lawyers need to be educated to survive and thrive in the rapidly shifting landscape of the practice of law.

Using what was essentially a process of educational reverse engineering, faculty and staff started at the end—where and how graduates get their first jobs—and worked all the way back to the time before students sit in their first class to analyze what knowledge, skills, and values they need to ensure success.

What emerged was an innovative and carefully sequenced series of courses and experiences that offer California Western students a unique opportunity to gain the precise type of value-added legal knowledge and skills they’ll need on the job to carry out the equally important and challenging responsibilities of being a professional lawyer.

“The process has worked because everyone at California Western invested the time and energy required to take an honest and thoughtful look at everything we do,” says Linda Morton, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning. “It meant changing or eliminating what wasn’t working and creating new curricula and programs to reflect the real world of law—all in an effort provide the best possible education for our students.”

Central to the process was an examination of learning objectives and outcomes. An ad hoc committee spent months looking not only at what California Western was teaching, but how it was being taught.

“What we discovered was that we needed a better balance inside and outside the classroom so that we could meet a number of educational requirements at the same time, not the least of which was preparing students for the bar,” says Professor Tom Barton, a committee member. “We ended up with a list of outcomes that enable us to impart core legal doctrine and theory while embedding the practical skills training graduates will need in their first job.”

The changes should have a long-lasting impact, Barton says.

“At the end of the day our job is to train lawyers who are able to help people solve their legal problems,” he says. “We now have a system in place that ensures our graduates are given every tool possible to be effective in carrying out that important duty while creating a satisfying career for themselves.”

Equally important to the educational revamping was expansion and coordination of California Western’s “experiential” curriculum.

“Experiential education actively engages students as participants and performers as they apply legal theory to legal practice,” Morton says.

Experiential learning is so important that California Western has made it a required part of the first- and second-year curriculum, and provides numerous opportunities for ongoing experiential training throughout students’ three years at the school. Opportunities, in addition to traditional first-year legal skills instruction, include the school’s innovative STEPPS Program, 35 skill-simulation classes and programs, seven different clinics, over 100 clinical internships, more than 30 local pro bono opportunities, and numerous trial, appellate, and alternative dispute resolution competitions.

A final piece of the puzzle was added when the school created “pathways to practice,” specially designed sets of classes to prepare students for specific practice areas, including health law, civil litigation, and criminal law.

“This really is an exciting new direction for California Western because students embarking on a pathway are able to gain a level of knowledge in an area they otherwise could not have achieved,” says Professor Susan Channick, who helped create the health law pathway. “It makes students more marketable when they graduate and offers an added benefit to employers.”

There are actually multiple paths within each pathway. Health law, for example, is broken down into three: representing health care organizations; regulatory/pharmaceutical/life sciences; and medical malpractice.

One key to the pathways’ effectiveness: the experienced adjunct professors who teach the courses. Martha Ann Knutson, a solo practitioner with two decades of experience representing health care organizations, is a prime example. She teaches classes on health care compliance and health care contracting and transactions.

“The reaction I get from students is that this is not like any other class they’ve taken in law school,” Knutson says. “We delve deeply into the subjects, teaching them how to research, write, and think about some very complicated issues. But we also try to give them practical insight into what working as a health care lawyer is like in the real world so they know what to expect in their first job. I wish I had this kind of class available when I went to law school.”

Morton says the school will continue to fine-tune the new process, but for the moment, she believes it represents state-of-the-art legal education.


Adjunct Professor Martha Ann Knutson

Adjunct Professor Martha Ann Knutson

A Value-Added Proposition

California Western Among National Leaders in Bar Preparation

Stephanie J. De Jesus ’14 was amazed by how prepared and ready she felt at that long-awaited moment when she sat down to take the California Bar Exam, one of the toughest, most fear-inducing tests in the nation.

“Although there was frantic hustle around me on the morning of test day, I was relieved to see that I remained calm walking into the test room,” De Jesus recalls. “The bar preparation I received at California Western was so thorough, in-depth, and organized, that even with the amount of pressure I felt, I was able to focus all my energy on answering each question to the best of my ability. I know that’s the main reason I passed; I felt extremely prepared.”

De Jesus, who passed the bar with flying colors and is headed for a career in the Army JAG Corps, serves as an excellent example of how a law school can achieve higher than average bar passage rates by offering intensive preparation  for all of its students, according to Assistant Dean for Academic Achievement Shane Dizon.

“California Western has worked hard to create one of the most comprehensive bar preparation efforts in the country,” Dizon says. “We actually become partners with the students in the process, and starting in the second year, we provide them with an extensive array of resources and support that continues up to the moment they sit for the bar.”

Members of the Academic Achievement staff: Administrative Assistant Laura Franke, Assistant Dean Shane Dizon, Assistant Director Carly E. Sassi ’12, Assistant Director Jesus Barraza

That investment has paid off: National Jurist magazine recently ranked California Western number 12 in the nation in its article “Best Law Schools for Bar Exam Preparation.” Performing higher than their LSAT scores would indicate, California Western graduates passed the July 2014 bar exam at a rate of 71 percent for first-time takers, and over the past 14 exams, graduates have met or exceeded the statewide average 12 times.

Dizon says bar prep is a multi-year team effort embedded in the entire school, from the professors who teach the core curriculum that is the foundation of student knowledge, to his four-person department that creates and oversees the detailed bar prep structure and timeline, to the students who buy into the process and invest the hours required to get the most out of it.

It’s a three-prong process that starts in the second year when students are required to take an eight-week advanced legal analysis class. Third-year students take a pre-bar review course, followed by the jewel in the crown, the California BARBRI Bar Review, an intensive post-graduation course that offers a complete review of all subjects tested on the bar as well as essay workshops, multiple-choice question workshops, performance exam workshops, several simulated exams, and group and individual tutoring.

“Not only did we take timed practice tests under pressure to simulate the exam experience, but we went through each question to learn why we got it wrong, or even why we got it right,” De Jesus says. “The course not only pushes you, it holds you accountable, which was great because I would not have been able to stay that motivated or organized on my own.”

Many students, De Jesus included, choose California Western in part because of its bar preparation.

“We have built a reputation for excellent bar prep and it’s definitely a reason for students to consider California Western,” Dizon says. “At California Western, students will find a dedicated team of people committed to their success from their first class to getting their first job.”

A Value-Added Proposition

Professionalism Crucial to Job Success, Employer Satisfaction

The success of lawyers in their first jobs hinges on many factors, but most would agree that knowledge of the law and practical legal skills are critical. What’s often overlooked, however, is another skill set that is just as crucial: professional attitudes and values.

“A new lawyer might be practice ready, but be absolutely unprepared for the profession of law,” says Matthew Lab, assistant director of California Western’s Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO). “Showing true professionalism from day one can often have career-enhancing implications, just as lack of it can derail a person’s chances for success.”

Professionalism, in Lab’s view, is seen in lawyers who demonstrate the ability to conduct themselves with honesty, fairness, respect, empathy, and civility. They behave ethically, strive to represent their clients competently, take a proactive and preventive approach to problem solving, and learn from their mistakes. They demonstrate a concern for others and maintain a commitment to pro bono work and community service.

California Western graduates have always had a reputation for strong practical skills, but the school believed much more could be done to develop professionalism while they are in school. Eighteen months ago, an ad hoc professional development committee comprised of faculty and CPDO staff developed a set of professional outcomes—aligned with learning outcomes—which are designed to ensure that our graduates are both practice ready and profession ready.

“The committee developed a comprehensive professional development checklist that gives our students a step-by-step, individualized roadmap to follow throughout their time at California Western,” Lab says. “In the eyes of the public, law students are viewed as “professionals” from the moment they enter law school. Because of this, our students’ individual transformation into legal professionals begins the very first week of law school when we begin treating them like professionals and by having them set up a professional LinkedIn account and begin cleaning up their social media presence. In the years that follow, using the professional development checklist as a guide, our students will explore the vast opportunities in the legal profession through their attendance at attorney panels, career development seminars and mentoring; gain experience in the practice of law through internships; equip themselves with critical networking skills; and develop their own professional brand as aspiring attorneys.”

Early results from the effort are positive, Lab says.

“We have been hearing from employers who are so impressed by our graduates’ practice and profession-ready skill sets that they are confident in assigning them to work with some of their best clients, which is not something they normally would consider with first-year attorneys.”

Matthew Lab

Matthew Lab, assistant director of California Western’s Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO)

A Value-Added Proposition

Skills, Ethics Training Help Students Grow as Future Lawyers

The powerful impact of California Western’s innovative STEPPS Program on the careers of graduates is like a cultivation project that begins with remarkable seeds for success that are planted and grow steadily during law school, but aren't harvested until they get their first jobs.

Those seeds are planted in the second year, when students take the nationally recognized STEPPS Program, which stands for Skills Training for Ethical Practice and Professional Satisfaction. Students acquire knowledge, skills, and values by working on simulated cases under the supervision of an experienced mentor.

“The professors in the STEPPS Program understand from experience that success requires not only a foundation in substantive knowledge, but also the ability to apply that knowledge strategically and ethically,” says Professor Timothy Casey, director of the STEPPS Program, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary. “Our students work in a small group with an experienced mentor for an entire academic year. They learn from experience and through experience.”

The adjunct professors in the STEPPS Program have, on average, more than 20 years’ experience in the legal profession, and most participate in the process of hiring new lawyers. The program creates a mentor-apprentice relationship, where students learn the norms of ethical behavior in the legal profession. 

Simulated cases provide the context, and students learn by doing. In addition to written assignments, such as preparing a response to a motion for summary judgment, students practice communication skills. They interview and counsel clients, learn the basics of negotiation, and practice the finer points of professional communication and etiquette. Professional actors play the role of a client in video-recorded interview and counseling sessions. 

“Students see the tangible value of the STEPPS Program once they begin to practice,” says Casey. “They realize they are better prepared because they’ve drafted a contract, written a motion, and gained experience interviewing and counseling clients. And they’ve grappled with ethical dilemmas in a simulated environment, which prepares them for the challenges they’ll face in the real world.” 

The focus on ethics is key, and it’s infused into everything the STEPPS Program teaches, according to Adjunct Professor Vickie Turner, partnerat Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP, and a practicing lawyer for more than three decades.

“Ethics is critical because it is the foundation for all lawyers, whether you’re in a courtroom, transactional setting, in-house counsel, or public service law, Turner says. “We spend a lot of time emphasizing what is right and fair—important standards that real-world lawyers often forget or fail to adhere to in their desire to win cases.”

Beyond practical skills and ethics, the STEPPS Program examines the issue of career satisfaction, a unique feature of the training.

“There’s no single answer to the question of what makes a satisfying career—each individual will have to answer the question for him or herself,” says Casey. “We want our students to explore that process while still in school. Through extensive discussions, self-analysis, and goal setting, we provide them with a strong foundation for creating a satisfying law career.”

Satisfied is also a word that could be used to describe the employers who hire California Western graduates with STEPPS Program training

“Employers notice the difference immediately because California Western graduates arrive on the job focused and ready to put those STEPPS Program skills to work from the very start,” Turner says. “That kind of practice readiness is invaluable because it saves the employer training time, which helps to boost their bottom line.”


Adjunct Professor Vickie Turner

Adjunct Professor Vickie Turner

A Value-Added Proposition

Recent Graduates Thrive at Public Defender’s Office

Recent graduates at the Office of the San Diego County Public Defender (clockwise left to right): Angela M. Porter ’14, Spencer S. Scott ’14, Reem Khalil ’13, Troy D. Holan ’14, Linda Alexandra McDonald ’14, Allen R. Oghassabian ’13, Anthony B. Parker ’14, Miguel A. Penalosa ’13, Andrea N. Pella ’13, Paige G. Stevens ’14, Katie A. Nagler ’14, Monique Carter, assistant supervisor of the Central Misdemeanor Unit; Hannah R. Kuhami ’12


They are relatively inexperienced, yet arrive with legal skills that have been honed through internships and work with the California Innocence Project. They have an intense desire to serve the public, especially the underserved, and above all, they have a passion for justice.

They are California Western graduates who over the years have found their first job out of law school at the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office.

“I’ve been with the office 10 years and I’ve definitely seen how marketable the California Western graduates are to San Diego’s legal community, specifically the Public Defender’s office,” says Monique Carter, assistant supervisor of the Central Misdemeanor Unit. “They come to us remarkably goal-oriented and focused because most of them knew they wanted to be in this field when they entered law school. They then commit themselves to work as hard as possible to be ready when they get their chance in the real world.”

Working with interns and graduates at the office has given Carter insight into why the school’s students do so well as public defenders.

“The school thoroughly prepares them by melding classroom learning, trial advocacy training, extensive mock trial work, clinical internships, and for many, work with the school’s California Innocence Project, one of the outstanding programs of its kind in the nation,” Carter says. “It’s a really potent combination and fun to watch how much confidence and poise it builds in students over their three years.”

It’s also a process that gives California Western students a leg up when it comes to getting internships and ultimately jobs with the office.

“There’s no question that our office has a very positive feeling about the California Western students, but it’s based on their accomplishments,” Carter says. “We enjoy their enthusiasm, and their outstanding performance has helped make the public defender a more effective agency. It’s no secret that if you want to become a public defender, going to California Western—with all it offers—will put you on a direct path to our office.”

A Value-Added Proposition

Strong Performance of California Western Hires Pays Off

Ask attorney James McFall his policy on hiring graduates of California Western, and you’ll get an extremely straightforward answer.

“We don’t go out of our way to hire California Western grads. We’re looking to hire the best candidates. It just happens that a lot of them come from California Western,” says McFall, managing shareholder of the San Diego firm Neil, Dymott, Frank, McFall & Trexler, named a “Best Law Firm” for 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.

In fact, the firm has hired five graduates in the past 12 months for its San Diego, Temecula, and Palm Springs offices. It is a tradition that goes back more than 35 years,  when the firm hired California Western graduate, Sheila S. Trexler ’86. Trexler, this year’s president of the Southern California Chapter of American Board of Trial Advocates, is a director of the firm.

“Sheila couldn’t be a better example of the outstanding quality California Western produces in its graduates,” McFall says. “She’s one of our long-time named shareholders and one of the best medical malpractice trial lawyers in the country—her many accolades include having been named both a top 50 women litigator in California and San Diego Defense Lawyer of the Year. “

Trexler was an emergency room nurse before becoming a lawyer, and that’s a positive tendency McFall sees among many California Western graduates who have had previous jobs before entering law school.

“That’s an important bonus because we like to hire people who are a little more mature, who already know what working in the real world is like, and who are often self-motivated to work the kind of long and irregular hours required by a firm like ours,” McFall says. “Although we know all of our associates will require on-the-job training—with the firm actually losing money on them for at least the first year or two—the fact that California Western grads arrive with a host of skills others don’t have is certainly beneficial because it shortens the learning curve considerably.”

Sandwiched time-wise between a longtime alumna like Trexler and the newly arrived graduates is Matthew R. Souther ’04, another distinguished medical malpractice lawyer who serves as an adjunct professor at California Western. He was invited to become a shareholder two years ago.

“I want to say we’ve had good luck hiring California Western grads, but the truth is that it isn’t luck,” McFall says. “They’re prepared, they’re go-getters, and over the years they’ve been a valuable addition to our firm’s capabilities and a major contributor to our success.”

James McFall

Attorney James McFall

A Value-Added Proposition

Top San Diego Lawyer Knows What He Wants in New Associates

A description of an ideal new associate at Michael Whitton’s law firm might go something like this: arrives before normal business hours, possesses solid practical legal skills, eagerly asks for assignments, can think on his or her feet, deals well with colleagues and clients, keeps working until the job is done.

It just so happens that most of the California Western graduates Whitton has hired over the years at Troutman Sanders live up to that description. Whitton is managing partner of the San Diego office of Troutman, a 600-lawyer international law firm.

“California Western graduates are special because they not only arrive with more practical skills than other law school graduates, but they have an attitude in their first job of rolling up their sleeves to outperform everyone else. By coming in with that drive and determination, they make themselves more valuable to my firm.”

This stands in stark contrast to what he sometimes sees in associates who have gone to other schools, some highly prestigious.

“There is almost an attitude of entitlement among some that you would never see in a California Western grad,” Whitton says. “It’s almost funny to watch them arrive with a nice suit, with a new briefcase, and diploma they carefully hang on the wall. Then they sit behind their desk and expect us to coddle them as we groom and grow them.”

Today’s economic realities in the legal profession dissuade Whitton from even considering that type of associate.

“Anymore, it’s all about whether you can efficiently produce something of value that meets the needs of your client within a reasonable period of time—and that rarely involves the work of an associate,” Whitton says. “Long gone are the days when clients would de facto underwrite the on-the-job training of your associates.”

As a member of California Western’s Board of Trustees since last fall, Whitton now has a front row view of the school’s intensified effort to produce practice-ready graduates.

“With California Western’s full commitment to producing practice-ready graduates—as this shift in legal education and the law marketplace fully plays out—I firmly believe the school’s commitment will pay major dividends for students, employers, and California Western itself.”

Michael Whitton

Attorney Michael Whitton


Students Burnish Legacy of Success in Competitions

California Western’s trial, appellate, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR)  competition teams carry on a tradition of excellence that has defined the program for years, bringing home several national awards and winning the first-ever trial team competition among San Diego’s three law schools.

The ADR team of second-year students Amy A. Vaughan and Braden A. Drake finished first in the California Bar Environmental Negotiation Competition in March—the fourth time in six years a California Western team has made the finals at this competition and the first team to win it all.

Also in March, the appellate team of 2Ls Jeremiah G. Ambabo and Grant P. Porter finished second in the ABA Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition regionals. The team of third-year students Jennifer N. Monterroso and Rachel M. Ferguson went to the semifinals at that event.
The appellate team of 3L Joanne L. Heilbrun and 2L Matthew W. Hobson excelled at the National Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition held at Whittier Law School in February. Heilbrun and Hobson finished second in the tournament, while Heilbrun earned the top oralist award and Hobson won second-top oralist out of 28 competitors. Between them, they came home with six trophies.

Heilbrun and Monterroso teamed up to finish first in the 17th Annual National Entertainment Law Moot Court Competition held at Pepperdine University School of Law in November. They prevailed over St. Mary’s School of Law in the final round after defeating law school teams from Arizona State University, Villanova, Baylor, and Texas A&M.

California Western finished first in the three-way competition with University of San Diego School of Law and Thomas Jefferson School of Law in November to win bragging rights in San Diego. The team of 3Ls Jordan B. Du Bois, Melissa M. Mack—along with 2Ls Sarah E. Reeb and Madelynn F. Woodhall—won the trophy and a $5,000 prize in the event sponsored by the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. 

Additionally, the trial team of Du Bois and Micaela De La Cerda went to the regional semifinals in the Texas Young Lawyers Association competition hosted by California Western, University of San Diego, and Thomas Jefferson.

Porter and Hobson performed well as a team—finishing second in the regional round of the Thomas Tang National Moot Court Competition at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento in October. The duo also won best brief.

“The success this year has been extraordinary,” says Distinguished Practitioner Mario G. Conte, faculty advisor to the Moot Court Honors Board (MCHB). “We make two promises to our competitors. First, we will make them the best competitors we can. Second, we promise that we will make them the best attorneys we can when they graduate.”

Conte points to the legacy and continuity of the program as a factor in this success, as most of the coaches are California Western graduates who were trained the MCHB way. “They train students exactly the way they themselves were trained,” says Conte. “They pass on the spirit of champions.”

Local, National Awards Recognize Service to Community and Legal Profession

California Western people and programs are frequently recognized by local, state, and national organizations for their work in the profession and the community. Among the most recent honors are:

President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
For the fifth consecutive year, California Western was named to this distinguished list recognizing schools that give back to the community. Programs highlighted include the California Innocence Project, Community Law Project, and Pro Bono Honors Society.

Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards 2014
Super Lawyers magazine, a program of Thompson Reuters, honored the California Innocence Project with a 2014 pro bono award. In addition to the more than 7,000 hours contributed by clinic students and staff, the award recognizes the project’s work to free Michael Hanline, the longest-serving innocent inmate in California, and their work to pass SB 980, which provides convicted prisoners with improved access to DNA testing.

2015 SDCBA Service Awards
Last year, Director of Alumni Affairs Lori Boyle received the San Diego County Bar Association’s Distinguished Citizen Award in recognition of her work in the legal community. This year, the SDCBA lauds the California Innocence Project with its Public Service by a Law Firm or Agency Award.

American Association of Law Libraries Hall of Fame
In recognition of her years of service to our law library and her “significant, substantial, and long-standing” service to the profession, Phyllis Marion, Associate Dean for Library and Information Resources, will be inducted into the American Association of Law Libraries Hall of Fame this year.


Trailblazer for Women in Legal Education

Professor Marilyn Ireland may not have realized she was helping usher in a new era for women in legal education the day she was physically thrown out the revolving door entrance to a private men’s club in the early 1970s, after being invited there as a guest of honor.

“It tore my nylons,” she recalls. She missed the lunch, and the organizer later apologized, but she says the incident was typical of ignominies women in legal education faced in that era, as they began to enter the profession in more than token numbers.

Before the day of her unceremonious heave-ho, Ireland had already managed the tricky feat of graduating with honors from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a degree in government, having done a substantial part of her degree work at the (then) all-male University of Virginia. She’d already accepted a scholarship to the University of Chicago law school, graduating with honors in 1969 — one of six women graduates that year.

She soon saw the inside of a courtroom as a high-powered federal litigator in Chicago, moving on to work for retired Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in antitrust law and constitutional federalism.

“Justice Fortas was one of the best legal writers and scholars to ever serve on the bench,” she says. “To have simply worked with him on a brief was worth 10 law degrees. The man was brilliant. It was a priceless opportunity. He was extremely professional. I don’t believe he thought of my gender as an issue.”

So as Ireland explains, “I had been the only woman for some time and had never encountered any trouble. I was not that interested in being pivotal in any movement, I was only interested in doing an excellent job for my firm and my clients. I ran into occasional roadblocks, which the firm was very helpful in getting me around.

“I didn’t really understand discrimination until I got into academia. There was nothing like it. There was just no way around it. It was just intense.”

What prompted her to consciously assist in the “end of tokenism” was a professional obligation to her students, who she found were encountering the same difficulties.

She joined and eventually chaired the Women in Legal Education Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) from 1972-1973—a list of previous chairs includes current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It was a beleaguered period in the Section’s history, during which their first annual teaching conference was planned behind closed doors by non-Section male AALS members appointed to “assist” the many new women law teachers.

In a 2012 memoir of her time as Section Chair, Ireland recalls preparing a form letter response to routine AALS leadership charges the group was conducting “unauthorized” meetings every time women law professors were spotted socializing in public settings such as hallways and restaurants.

By the late 1970s, the environment was beginning to change. Ireland was drawn to the West Coast, and especially to California, where more than half the women jurists in the U.S. then worked. She accepted a two-year visiting position at California Western, at the end of which, both parties decided to make it permanent.

“I liked that it was a freestanding school,” she explains. “There are not that many of them; most law schools are connected with universities. I’ve been there, done that, and I don’t like it. I don’t like it when administrators get between me and my students. At a freestanding law school, you are a heck of a lot freer.” The law school separated from California Western University (which subsequently became United States International University) in 1975.

And, while the school was almost entirely male at that time, “the male faculty did not feel they were under assault, so it was fine,” she says.

But Ireland recalls it was the personal warmth of Robert Castetter—California Western’s founding dean—that won her over.

“He was one of the kindest people you could meet on this planet. To him, the person he was talking to was the person he cared about. He would look at you not from what he could get from you but from who you were as a person. I liked him. He made me feel that he wanted me at California Western, and that it would be a pleasant place to be because he was there. He offered me a job and I took it.”

For the next 36 years, California Western served as Ireland’s base of operations, offering the intellectual independence she sought as professional, and the security she required as a single mother raising two children. And as practical matters go, the San Diego climate didn’t hurt.  After all, she asks, “When are you going to leave San Diego to go to Columbus, Ohio? Or North Dakota?”

She taught and published extensively, specializing in constitutional law issues such as free speech, civil rights, privacy, sexual harassment, women in law, and separation of church and state.

After earning tenure in 1981, Ireland went on to hold numerous visiting professorships locally and internationally. In San Diego, she taught at San Diego State University, University of San Diego and UC San Diego. In 1996, she accepted a visiting professorship at Victoria University in New Zealand, leading an honors comparative law seminar on free expression and international torts. From 2006-2007, she went to University of Maribor in Slovenia as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English legal terminology and American jurisprudence.

She describes her teaching style as “eclectic,” combining lectures, practical application and a now-softened approach to the sometimes withering Socratic dialogue to which she was, as a student and young professor, accustomed.

“The first thing I ran into in teaching that had to do with women being different, was when I was using the Socratic dialogue—and I must admit I was very good at it. Some of my women law students came to me afterwards absolutely livid, wanting to know why I was doing everything the way the men did. Why not? I thought at first. But it got me thinking about other modalities. And one thing I found is that you can use a less intimidating style of the Socratic dialogue and get better results.”

As she looks forward to her retirement, Ireland says what she will miss are her students. “I like students. I enjoy interacting with them. They teach me and I’ve learned a lot from them.”

As she embarks on her next chapter in life, she plans to focus first on her health, doing “what I’m physically able to do as long as I can.” Then, she hopes to get back to travel. “I’m a Europhile. I wish I could move there,” she says, having made her way through the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Slovenia just last fall.

In general, whether it’s Chichén Itzá or former Yugoslavia, “I try to get there before the tourists do,” she says. “When they start arriving and demanding balloon rides, it becomes like everywhere else in the world.”



Professor Marilyn Ireland

Community Service Key to Satisfaction in 46-Year Career in Law

A few years into Jeffrey S. Isaacs’ legal career, he came to a realization that would alter—and enrich—the rest of his life. “I had an epiphany that I was essentially working and living my life to meet my partners’ expectations and I knew there had to be more,” says Isaacs ’68, who retired in January after a 46-year career at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, where he was one of the region’s top bankruptcy and creditor-debtor lawyers.

Isaacs would end up involving himself in a number of organizations and causes that would help both his community, his profession, and—most recently—his alma mater, when he accepted an invitation to join California Western’s Board of Trustees.

Serving on boards such as the San Diego County Bar Association and San Diego County Bar Foundation was satisfying, but it wasn’t until Isaacs started his long relationship with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program (SDVLP) that he came to truly appreciate the impact community service could have on the lives of those who most need help.

“As a lawyer, I came to realize that, at least for me, nothing was more gratifying than helping people out dire of circumstances who were unable to help themselves.

“SDVLP is such a special and vitally needed program because it annually provides pro bono legal services to over 6,000 of the most vulnerable members of our community, including domestic violence victims, children at risk, elder abuse victims, and the homeless—just to name a few of the areas in which the program is involved,” says Isaacs, who has served as SDVLP president and remains highly active as a member of both the board and the executive committee.

As he looks back on his career, Isaacs is grateful for many things, but near the top of the list is the education he received at California Western.

“This school was transformational for me,” says Isaacs, who grew up in Los Angeles. “I wasn’t an exceptional student and, in fact, wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a lawyer, but Dean Robert Castetter and the school gave me a chance. I was willing to work hard and I surprised myself by doing exceptionally well, including becoming editor in chief of the law review.”

Isaacs’ academic achievement paid off in his being hired upon graduation by Procopio, a top-tier San Diego law firm.

“I was proud of that, but it would never have happened if the school hadn’t prepared me to think like a lawyer and equipped me with a thorough understanding of the concepts that are integral to legal analysis. Honestly, the things I learned in my first year at California Western I literally used every day for 46 years as a lawyer.”

These days, Isaacs is still involved with law, transitioning to a new career as a mediator while maintaining ties to California Western through board service and his annual presentation of the Alec L. Cory Pro Bono Award. Named in honor of his partner and mentor in community service, the award provides a $3,000 grant to a third-year student who has exhibited outstanding pro bono involvement.

“I like to encourage young lawyers to consider pro bono work and community service, because I believe they will come to understand that getting involved and giving back to the community will be one of the most rewarding things they will ever do,” Isaacs says. “I know my career would not have been half as satisfying without it.”



Jeffrey S. Isaacs '68

Alumni Affairs

Meet Your Alumni Board

Members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors help the office of Alumni Affairs foster and nurture meaningful, lifelong relationships among the law school’s graduates. Board members volunteer their time to provide opportunities for engagement and involvement though a variety of programs, events, and resources.

In this recurring section, we recognize our members’ unwavering dedication to California Western and their fellow alumni.

Deborah S. Dixon  ’07

Deborah S. Dixon ’07
Current Role: President
Previously: Committee Member
Fostering Community (coordinates California Western’s annual golf tournament)
Supporting the Law School (organizes receptions, programs, and events)
Promoting Professionalism (connects and engages current students with alumni)

Deborah has always been passionate about giving back to California Western, serving as an adjunct professor of the Distinguished Advocates Trial Skills Class and coaching the law school’s trial teams. Assuming the alumni board presidency was a natural fit.

During her tenure, Deborah plans to continue to promote participation in the Alumni Association and encourage students to engage early in their law school experience, especially via mentorship by alumni. Most of all, she wants to share her own feeling of pride in California Western with all of the law school’s graduates.

In addition to her new role as president, Deborah recently started a position as senior trial attorney with Gomez Trial Attorneys—a plaintiff’s litigation firm. After nearly eight years litigating cases at Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie—where she was named partner just five years out of law school—Deborah is excited to handle national class action lawsuits and be able to help many clients all at once.

Patricia L. Zlaket  ’09

Patricia L. Zlaket ’09
Current Role: Vice President
Previously: Chair
Promoting Professionalism
Committee Member
Supporting the Law School
Promoting Professionalism

Patti’s unique path to law school is what fuels her desire to contribute to California Western. Following a 20-year career in the music industry, Patti shifted her focus to the law and enrolled later in life than most students.

“I had a great experience at California Western,” she says, “and because I went back to school in my 30s after pursing other interests, I felt that I had really made a choice to be there. For that reason, I got a lot out of my time at the law school, and I take pride in staying involved with my alma mater.”

As vice president of the board, Patti hopes to grow the alumni community and encourage graduates to feel connected to the law school long after they’ve left Cedar Street to begin their careers.

Recently, Patti started her own practice with her father—Thomas A. Zlaket, former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court—handling civil litigation matters with a primary focus on personal injury. After graduating from California Western, she joined Casey Gerry and became an associate with the firm two years later.


Second Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards

Last year, the office of Alumni Affairs and the Alumni Association Board of Directors introduced an awards program honoring outstanding service to the law school, community, and legal profession.

Candidates for each honor are selected by the Alumni Association Board of Directors and will be announced on June 1. The awards will be formally presented on September 26, 2015 at the annual Reunion Celebration in San Diego.

Alumnus of the Year
The alumnus selected for this award has excelled in their legal career and has contributed professionally and philanthropically to the law school and the legal community.

Outstanding Judicial Officer
New for 2015. The alumnus selected for this award demonstrates extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice; and has provided outstanding service to the bench and contributed to the legal profession at any level of the court.

Outstanding Community Service
The alumnus selected for this award has participated in community service at the grass roots level, developed community-based and legal programs, or volunteered their time at the community level to educate, inform, and serve the law school and citizens in the San Diego community.

Rising Star
The alumnus selected for this award stands out in the legal community as a result of their professional and developmental growth, and has excelled in their legal profession while participating in law school and community activities.

Visit after June 1 to find information about our 2015 winners and to RSVP for the event. For more, contact Lori Boyle at


Giving Tuesday Sets One-Day Record

Thank you to the many students, alumni, and friends of California Western who contributed to the law school’s inaugural Giving Tuesday Campaign on December 2, 2014. Because of the generous support of our donors, we raised a total of $61,735 in just 24 hours, making Giving Tuesday the most successful day of giving in law school history.

This success was due in large part to Roy M. Bell ’74 and the rest of the Board of Trustees. Bell generously agreed to match all donations to the school on Giving Tuesday up to a total of $10,000. When that goal was met before 10:30 a.m., the board worked quickly to offer an additional match goal of $19,000. Thank you to Roy Bell and the board, whose generosity helped provide more than $60,000 in support for an array of student scholarships, clinical programs, and more.

California Western’s second annual Giving Tuesday Campaign will take place December 1, 2015. We are working hard to build on the success of our first-year campaign and raise even more money in 2015.

For more information visit or contact Associate Director of Development Melissa Wells at


Giving Tuesday Donations

Access to Law Initiative


Annual Fund


California Innocence Project


Community Law Project


Brigadier General John R. DeBarr Award


Murray L. Galinson Scholarship


Prof. Irwin Miller Memorial Fund


William Lynch Scholarship


New Media Rights


Proyecto ACCESO


Student Scholarships


Total Raised


Law Firm Challenge

This April, California Western kicked off its first-ever Law Firm Challenge, a community-based engagement campaign that challenges local law firms employing two or more California Western  graduates to achieve 100 percent alumni giving.

By meeting the challenge, participating firms raise their profile within the legal community and among California Western students who represent future employees. The challenge also provides the first opportunity of its kind for California Western graduates to reconnect with their alma mater and fellow alumni, building a stronger and more mutually beneficial alumni network.

The challenge is currently underway and runs through June 30, 2015. This year’s participating firms include:

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP
Gordon & Rees LLP
Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie LLP
Greenman, Lacy, Klein, O'Harra & Heffron
Silldorf & Levine LLP
Hyde & Swigart
DLA Piper
Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck
Foley & Lardner LLP
San Diego District Attorney's Office
Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP

It’s not too late for your firm to sign up! To register your firm or for more information, please contact Melissa Wells at


2013 Honor Roll of Donors

Last fall, California Western changed its donor reporting period from a fiscal year to a calendar year system. Below, please find a list of donors who made a gift of $100 or more from August 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 who did not appear in the last Res Ipsa Honor Roll.

ACLU of San Francisco
David Adams
American Inns of Court Louis Welsh Chapter
Susan L. Arnett
John Arvanitis
Amy Baer
Sarah K. Bailey
Professors Thomas D. Barton* and Sharon L. Foster
Zagros S. Bassirian ‘14
Charles E. Bell, Jr. ‘07
Roy M. ‘74 and Diane Bell
James Bertolina
Gilbert and Pamela S. Binninger
Jeffrey A. Birchak ‘01
Donna Blain
Russell Block
Louis W. Bookheim, III*
Miranda M. Bordson '05
Nicole E. Boros '08
Rick Bowman
Nicole Bracy
The Honorable Larrie R. '68 and Kathleen R. Brainard '88
Anthony M. Bramante '83
Irwin and Arline Broida
Gary R. Bronstein '79
Errol Brown
Baran '10 and Kimberlyn M. Bulkat '10
Dan Bull
Dorothy Cable
J. B. & Emily Van Nuys Charities
Joseph A. Capone '89
Casey, Gerry, Schenk, Francavilla, Blatt & Penfield, LLP
Professor Susan A. Channick '80*
Jaime T. Chee
Shirley Chen
Ronald J. '83 and Elaine Chin
Han P. '74 and Meredith J. Ching
Elena Chopchits
Jason B. Christmann '11
Rebecca G. '08 and Tyler S. Church
Circa Interactive LLC
Todd Clark
Dee Clarke
Linda Condra
Gerissa H. '09 and Jason Conforti
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Dolores A. Contreras '08
Andrew D. Cook '93 and Marcia Gezelter
Claire Cordary
Michael E. Cosgrove '14
Jerry Costello '83
David Court
Vice Dean Barbara J. Cox* and Peg Habetler
Professor Emeritus Thomas A. Coyne
Adam E. Davalos ‘08
Steven Dawson
Drew Deal
Jason Deiboldt
Professor Robert R. DeKoven ‘83*
Deseret Trust Company
Deborah S. Dixon '07
Gempu Dorai
Kelly M. '03 and Derek Douglas
Elizabeth Dubar
Professor Floralynn Einesman*
Jennifer R. Ellenbeck '15
Daniel L. Essig '07
Brendan Farrelly
Douglas E. '89 and the Honorable Rita C. Federman '89
James Ferguson
Kelly Fernando*
Professor Jessica K. Fink*
Doctor Lawrence S. Friedman
Myra and Arnold Frieman
Frontera International, Inc.
Albert A. Frost ‘73
Professor Emeritus George N. and Martha A. Gafford
Corey C. Garrard ‘14
Marc B. ‘73 and Nancie Geller
Robert Gerard
Gary Gittelson ‘84
Sidney Gold
Johnny B. Gonzales
The Honorable Irma E. Gonzalez and Robert S. Brewer, Jr.
Alicia Graham
Grand Entrances
Kathleen Grano
Charles R. ‘70 and Dawn Grebing
Kenneth L. ‘71 and Patricia Greenman

Margaret A. Gregory ‘02
Teri Guberman
Camille L. Gustafson ‘14
Tyson Gustus
Todd R. Haas ‘97
Steven R. ‘00 and Vicky A. Hadley
Nasra S. and Ansar M. Haroun
Jane E. Harris ‘83
Clint Harritt
Siamak S. Hefazi ‘14
Barbara Henderson
Crystal L. Hengel*
Larry Herman
Elizabeth Hess
Hung Wo & Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation
Gary Hunt
Anne Hwang
Dawnie M. Ichimura '97
Jeffrey S. '68 and Johanna J. Issacs
Dennis Isom
Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego
Charles S. '77 and Kathy A. Johnson '80
Dianne Johnson
King Stahlman Bail Bonds, Inc.
David B. Kirschner '05
Professors Kenneth S. Klein and Lisa M. Black*
Robyn Korengold
Cy C. Kuckenbaker
Kevin LaChapelle
Claudia Lara
Anthony A. LaRiche, Jr. '77 and Jacqueline S. Burns-LaRiche
James H. Lauer '74
Drew A. '09* and Eva M. Lautemann '09
Law Offices of Hickman & Robinson, LLP
Law Offices of Irina Sherbak, APC
Noni Leibl
Alice Leong
Alyssa S. Levine and Gabriel Z. Mass
Jeffrey D. '75 and Marie Lewin
Roger D. Linn '78
Roger L. and Darleen K. Long
Carol Lowe
Meghan Lyle
Joshua D. Mackenroth '93
Stanley Malley
Alex Marjanovic
Chris Maxwell '75
Candi Mayes
Barbara D. McKnight
Thomas C. Mitchell
Mitchell & Shea, APC
Kim S. Morgan '82
Associate Dean Linda H. Morton* and Mr. Lenny Bole
Mark E. Myers and Rosemary Hasse Myers
Nathaniel D. Davis Foundation
Art Neill
Jeffrey R. '80 and Tseela Newport
Northwestern Mutual
James T. Nystrom '73
Douglas A. Oden
Allan Y. '77 and Mabel Y. I. Okubo
Aaron M. Olsen '08
Captain Kevin R. O'Neil '05
Sue Overdevest
Paul C. and Carolyn K. Page
Judy Pang
David Partovi
Doctors Erica J. Pascal '06 and Michael J. Hostetler
Alexia E. '08 and Josh Peters
Price Philanthropies Foundation
Karen Profet
Jodi Prohofsky
Chloe Quail
Qualcomm Charitable Foundation
The Honorable James D. Ream '69
Matthew P. Reinhart '07
Roberto Rico
Robert P. '03 and Pany Robinson
Frederick Rooney
Nancy B. Rosenfeld '81
Anita Rosenthal
Mary Ross
Shannon and Jay Roth
Charles E. '71 and Christina C. Rumbaugh
Ruth R. Ryan-Cruz '11
Christina S. Sarkiss '14
Loren R. '70 and Joan Sattinger

2014 Honor Roll of Donors

Leland G. Stanford Circle

The Leland G. Stanford Circle, named after the founder of California Western, recognizes lifetime giving at the highest level, comprising a select group of individuals and couples whose lifetime giving totals $100,000 or more.

Roy M. '74 and Diane Bell
Harold A. and Eileen Brown
Constance L. '74 and David C. Clapp
Dean E. Donald and Merle Shapiro Family Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, Inc.
Dean Emeritus Michael H.* and Carolyn Dessent
Frederic L. '81 and Janis Gordon
Huggy Bear, Inc.
J. Randall '81 and Kathleen Jones
Howard J. '80 and Beverly S. Silldorf
Dean Emeritus Steven R.* and Lera B. Smith
Universidad Catolica de Temuco
Weingart Foundation
The Honorable Howard B. and Joan C. Wiener
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Sally T. Wong-Avery
James '73 and Linda R. Ybarrondo

Juris Legatum Society

The Juris Legatum Society recognizes those who have made a planned gift to California Western.  With their gift, members of the Juris Legatum Society leave behind a legacy of their generosity and commitment to California Western, making a lasting impact on the school and its students for years to come.

Marlene J. and Roger A. Gaskins
Kenneth L. '71 and Patricia Greenman
Howard J. '80 and Beverly S. Silldorf
Dwight E. and Fern Stanford

Juris Society
The Juris Society recognizes the individuals whose generous annual support maintains the core operations of the law school and strengthens programs of central importance to our mission.

Juris Friends ($1,000 to $2,499)
American Inns of Court Louis Welsh Chapter
William M. '81 and Nancy A. Aul
Professors Thomas D. Barton* and Sharon L. Foster
Charles H. ‘82 and Sarah C. Beale
The Honorable Larrie R. ‘68 and Kathleen R. Brainard ‘88
Professor Arthur W. Campbell*
Professor Susan A. Channick '80*
Han P. '74 and Meredith J. Ching
Constance L. '74 and David C. Clapp
Dwight W. '74 and Sharon L. Clark
The Diane and Elliot Feuerstein Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation
Pamela* and Michael Duffy
Kelly Fernando*
Martha A. Gafford
Mark S. '82 and Cindy Garber
The Honorable David M. and Marcia Gill
Thomas Goldstein
Geraldo and Scarrain Gomes Fund
Grantors Foundation
Kenneth L. '71 and Patricia Greenman
Herbert J. Solomon Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation
Gary Hunt
Imran M. and Aniqa Jaswal
J. Randall '81 and Kathleen Jones
Cy C. Kuckenbaker
Samuel S. Lionel
Roger L. and Darleen K. Long
Vice Admiral Bruce E. '87 and Karen E. MacDonald
Mary Ellen Mahoney
Chris Maxwell '75
Mitch M. '72 and Tomoe Michino
Associate Dean Linda H. Morton* and Lenny Bole
Nathaniel D. Davis Foundation
Ambassador Thomas A. ‘68 and Zinetta Nassif
Arthur Neill
Jeffrey R. ‘80 and Tseela Newport
Doctors Erica J. Pascal ‘06 and Michael J. Hostetler
Robert J. Pecora ‘81
Dennis M. Prince ‘93
Eberhard H. and Jessica Röhm
Charles E. ‘71 and Christina C. Rumbaugh
Russell F. Accornero Family Trust
David S. Sabih
Rana Sampson and Mayor Jerry Sanders
The San Diego Foundation
James E. L. and Sarah Seay
Howard Speight
Joshua B. ‘02 and Rahil K. Swigart ‘03
Professor Roberta K. Thyfault ‘84*
Shirley K. Watkins '82 and Steve Stevens
Larry and Louise Williams
Doctor Peter A. Winograd
The Honorable Lawrence F. '77 and Patricia M. Winthrop
Michelle M. Wu '94

Juris Fellows ($2,500 to $4,999)
Michael H. '86 and Gayle M. '85 Blatt
Vice Dean Barbara J. Cox* and Peg Habetler
Douglas E. ‘89 and the Honorable Rita C. Federman ‘89
Charles R. ‘70 and Dawn Grebing
Higgs, Fletcher & Mack LLP
James T. Nystrom Foundation
Thomas A. Lehrer
Mark P. Mandell ‘77 and Dawn Rose
Associate Dean Phyllis C. Marion*
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch
Dean Niels B.* and Carla Schaumann

Dean's Associates ($5,000 to $9,999)
Association of Business Trial Lawyers
Gilbert and Pamela S. Binninger
Robert M. '76 and Judith J. Dowd
Ian Edwards
Daniel L. Essig '07
H. Wayne Goodroe '74
The Honorable Judith L. '75 and John L. Haller
Jeffrey S. '68 and Johanna J. Issacs
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Judith S. Levine
Jeffrey D. '75 and Marie Lewin
The Marks Family Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation
Colette Newman
Dean Emeritus Steven R.* and Lera B. Smith
Tecnológico de Monterrey
Universidad Nova Spania
The Honorable Howard B. and Joan C. Wiener

Dean’s Partners ($10,000 and above)
Roy M. ‘74 and Diane Bell
Kenneth Fait ‘69
The Gilbert J. Martin Foundation
J.B. and Emily Van Nuys Charities
Steven and Lisa Pite Family Foundation
Michael J. Whitton

Rising Leaders Society

The Rising Leaders Society recognizes loyal alumni who have graduated within the past ten years and have made gifts to the law school in three consecutive years. These future leaders of California Western support the law school above and beyond the value of their gifts by inspiring a culture of giving amongst their peers. Members receive the same benefits granted to members of the Juris Society.

Michael T. Bannon ‘06
Nihat D. Bayramoglu ‘13
Craig S. Benner ‘12
Jennifer M. Booth ‘07
Miranda M. Bordson ‘05
Rebecca G. Church ‘08
Helene C. Colin ‘08
Kristopher M. Cronin ‘05
Adam E. Davalos ‘08
Deborah S. Dixon ‘07
Irina A. Doliner ‘12
Albert N. Le ‘08 and Laralee E. Easton ‘08
Farzeen F. Essa ‘06
Daniel L. Essig ‘07
Lindsay A. Herf ‘08
Edward J. Hughes ‘05
Sarah E. Jordan ‘12
Kevin Y. Kanooni ‘13
Reem S. Khalil ‘13
Christopher M. Lawson ‘05
Alan Lewenstein ‘05
Rachel C. Lipsky ‘05
Kevin E. Magennis ‘12
Debra B. Manduley ‘06
Michael Manley ‘10
Annamarie S. Martin ‘05
Audrey A. McGinn ‘10*
Nima Namdjou '12
Captain Kevin R. O'Neil '05
Rachel S. Opatik '06
Doctor Erica J. Pascal '06
Ashley J. Ratliff '06
Matthew P. Reinhart '07
Alex W. Sachs '05
Carla W. Sanderson '12
Angela H. Santamaria '11
Michael A. Semanchik '10*
Arthur A. Severance '06
Lucia A. Thayer '09
Mark S.K.M. Tom '09
Jihan S. Yacoub '11
Kyle E. '06 and Eden R. Yaege '07
Patricia L. Zlaket '09

2014 3L Campaign Contributors

By contributing to the 3L Campaign, these students left a lasting mark on California Western, and a legacy of success and public service by which the Class of 2014 will be remembered.

Christina A. Alkire '14
Zagros S. Bassirian '14
Alyn B. Beauregard '14
Ryan D. Buchanan '14
Christina N. Burton '14
Allyson E. Calvird '14
Brian S. Carter '14
Erica E. Chang '14
Laura M. Coey '14
Michael E. Cosgrove '14
Gina E. Damiano '14
Marc G. Ebel '14
Jeffery T. Economides '14
Sean M. Elo '14
Felicia J. Erlich '14
Lauren E. Foley '14
Adam A. Freeman '14
Dennis P. Gallagher II '14
Corey C. Garrard '14
Julia N. Goldman '14
Camille L. Gustafson '14
Sami Haddad '14
Daniel I. Halimi '14
Brieanna R. Harb '14
Siamak S. Hefazi '14
Carina M. Jordan '14
Nathan J. Kingery '14
Mark R. Kiran '14
Harrison Le '14
Mitchell G. Miller '14
Kathleen L. Milligan '14
Nicholas P. Mouton '14
Rachael A. Neal Harrington '14
Leah A. Reeves '14
Priscilla A. Salgado '14
Christina S. Sarkiss '14
Alison K. Schlick '14
Julia D. Schneider '14
Jacob T. Spaid '14
Shannon Wicks '14
Patricia M. Wilson '14

*California Western faculty and staff

Class Actions

What have California Western alumni been up to?

» Class of 1969

Sandra J. Morris is of counsel at Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, a position she accepted after nearly 45 years of running her own family law practice.

» Class of 1970

Ronald B. Schwartz received the Joseph D. McNeil Civility Award for 2014 from the American Board of Trial Advocates for his "exemplary integrity, civility, and professionalism."

Warren L. Williams has retired as general counsel from Olam Americas, Inc. after a 45-year legal career.

» Class of 1977

Hon. Michael B. Orfield (Ret.) continues to split time between arbitrations and his role as speech and debate coach at Canyon Crest Academy.

» Class of 1979

Steffanie (Jones) Lewis and her husband Albert own The International Business Law Firm, PC, which recently argued and won a precedential decision before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the application of the categorical approach to a Virginia common law grand larceny felony statute.

Howard M. Rosenfield represents investors in court and in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitrations and mediations with their advisors and brokerage firms.

Hon. Michael J. Watanabe recently began his third term as a full-time U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Colorado, an appointment he has held for 17 years.

» Class of 1981

Ronald S. Bienstock teaches content management and music at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and was a guest speaker on William Patterson University’s “Music Biz 101” radio show. Over the last year, Bienstock & Michael, LLC has won several precedential decisions concerning trade secrets and trademarks in New Jersey, California, and Connecticut.

» Class of 1982

Hon. Shirley K. Watkins was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in the Van Nuys District.

» Class of 1983

Karen A. Holmes was named a 2015 Southern California “Super Lawyer” in the field of construction litigation by Super Lawyers magazine.

» Class of 1985

Vincent F. Aiello recently completed his third novel, Legions Lawyers, a legal thriller set in San Diego. He is the author of two previous bestsellers, Legal Detriment and The Litigation Guy.

» Class of 1987

Joseph P. Potocki was named a 2015 Southern California “Super Lawyer” in the field of construction litigation by Super Lawyers magazine.

» Class of 1990

Robert D. Fish opened a second office of his intellectual property practice and recently hosted the Orange County Regional Alumni Association Club event in Irvine.

» Class of 1991

Melody L. Luetkehans continues to work as a program attorney for the National Judicial College in Reno and is in the process of acquiring her private pilot’s license.

» Class of 1992

Susan G. Finster was named Assistant Dean for Student & Diversity Services at California Western.

Robert T. Johnson was named chief claims officer of Tower Hill Insurance Group in Gainesville, Florida. He and his family made the move to Florida from San Diego last summer.

» Class of 1993

William R. Kiendl joined the Law Office of Catherine C. Clark in Seattle as of counsel, where his practice focuses on real estate disputes and appellate litigation.

» Class of 1994

After many years of practicing law, Karl J. Berscheid’s desire to continue his career in the U.S. Army Reserve took precedent, and he now works as a civil affairs officer and a reserve officer at the Presidio of Monterey in California.

» Class of 1997

William M. Berman, founding and managing partner of Berman & Riedel, LLP, received his second Trial Lawyer Award in the past three years from Consumer Attorneys of San Diego.

» Class of 1998

Louis C. Cheng is a solo practitioner in Pasadena, focusing on investment immigration, business-related visas, contracts, commercial litigation, and real estate transactions.

The North Las Vegas Community Court program, presided over by Hon. Kalani K. Hoo, celebrated its first anniversary in February. In March, five participants graduated from the program, having all achieved the goal of full-time employment, a high school diploma, and remaining drug-free.

» Class of 1999

W. Henry Hampton recently ended his 10-year career as a commercial pilot to spend more time with family. Currently employed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties and living in Palm Springs, he is excited to team up with his mother and father who have been selling real estate in the Coachella Valley for more than 35 years.

» Class of 2000

Sotera L. Anderson practices in the products liability group at Wilson Turner Kosmo, LLP.

» Class of 2001

Robin Samit was promoted to Associate Dean of Affiliate & Industry Affairs with UC San Diego Health Sciences, and appointed vice president and secretary of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

» Class of 2003

Heather L. Milligan co-founded Milligan, Cannistraci & Mitchel, LLP, a firm dedicated to the practice of family law. She was also named in the 2015 edition of Best Lawyers in America.

Robert P. Robinson, a partner at Hickman & Robinson, was named a 2015 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine and made the San Diego Business Journal's “Best of the Bar 2015” list.

Elsie Lynn Secoquian is staff counsel for Fred Loya Insurance, and opened their new legal office in Anaheim last fall.

» Class of 2004

Christopher C. Walton was named a 2015 “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers magazine.

» Class of 2005

Frank V. Drummond is the director of legal affairs and business development for Knox Attorney Services, Inc.

Andrea Mader is a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County.

Colin Walshok was recently named partner at Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie LLP, where his practice includes both plaintiff and defense cases involving breach of contract claims, partnership, land use disputes, and personal injury matters.

» Class of 2006

Daniel R. Antonelli is a partner at Antonelli & Antonelli in New York City. In March 2015, he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Bar Association.

Angela Jae Chun was named one of San Diego Metro magazine’s “40 Under 40,” a 2015 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine, and made the San Diego Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar 2015” list.

Erich A. Drotleff is currently working at Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, Inc. as their legal affairs director and health care counsel.

Andrew J. Kubik was named to the San Diego Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar 2015” list in the area of class action litigation.

Meredith Saccardi Mazzola was named partner at Gibney, Anthony and Flaherty, LLP in January 2015, and recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Meredith also continues to serve on the New York Regional Alumni Association Club’s Board of Directors.

Kevin C. Murphy was re-elected to the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego Board of Directors for a three-year term, and was elected to the Irish American Bar Association of San Diego’s Board of Directors.

Peter M. Potente, managing attorney at Potente, A Professional Law Corporation, was named a 2015 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine for his work in the area of business/corporate law.

Jamie T. Pruitt joined the San Diego office of Hanna Brophy LLP, defending workers’ compensation and employment-related litigation claims.

Steven T. Rodemer was selected as a “Top 100” DUI attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense.

Kyle E. Yaege, a partner at Hickman & Robinson, was named to the “Best of the Bar 2015” list by the San Diego Business Journal.

» Class of 2007

Veronica C. Garlow (Lomeli) recently left her firm after practicing dependency law for seven years and opened The Gun Range San Diego in November 2014.

» Class of 2008

Aron C. Beezley was named a 2015 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine for his work in the area of government contracts law.

Helene C. Colin became the founder and managing attorney of Colin Law Firm, providing legal services in all areas of immigration law.

Carter B. Knope, corporate counsel for Deltek, Inc., is now also a pro bono attorney advisor for Rare Genomics Institute, a 501(c)(3) providing families around the world access to a crowd-funding platform and cutting-edge research, technologies, physicians, and scientists to leverage biotechnology in the advancement of understanding their children's rare genetic disorders. Additionally, Carter and his wife welcomed their first child in May 2014.

» Class of 2009

Gretchen (Peregrine) Johns represents and advocates for abused, neglected, and dependent children in Utah’s juvenile courts.

Brian Mann is a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Los Angeles.

Matthew J. Mesnik opened Mesnik Law Group, Inc. in January 2015, handling family law cases in San Diego County.

Julie A. Westerman has been named partner at Moore, Schulman & Moore after serving as associate attorney for five years.

Patricia L. Zlaket started her own personal injury law practice with her father, Thomas A. Zlaket, former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

» Class of 2010

Aaron L. Rea was named director of business and legal affairs at The Tennis Channel.

» Class of 2011

Daniel J. Buffer will soon celebrate his second anniversary at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo in Irvine, where he practices commercial and complex litigation and appellate advocacy. He recently published several articles and alerts on California’s new prevailing wage requirements for public works projects and other cutting-edge issues in construction law.

After graduation, Paul D. McGuire started his own family law practice focusing on same-sex couples. At his firm, Paul handles primarily divorce and dissolution of domestic partnerships and related child custody issues. He also writes a column in Gay San Diego where he discusses legal issues affecting the LGBT community.

Devin Sreecharana practices commercial litigation and appellate advocacy in Phoenix at May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, P.C. He was also named a 2015 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine.

» Class of 2012

Zachary A. Adams was named associate general counsel and business development manager for Golden Gaming, LLC.

Magdalena Chattopadhya was named a 2015 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine. Her family law firm, Magdalena Law Group, recently celebrated its second anniversary and added a third attorney to its team.

Amy Hsiao currently serves as president of the San Diego Chinese Attorneys Association and on the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego’s Board of Directors. She is the founding attorney of Hsiao Law, an estate-planning law firm committed to helping families protect their loved ones and grow their assets.

In March 2015, Sasha Kamfiroozie launched her own practice, Kam Law Firm, where she will continue practicing estate planning, special needs planning, probate, conservatorships, and business planning.

Jessica L. Labrencis is a staff attorney at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center in Hartford.

Shane R. Mathias is a deputy public defender in San Bernardino County, and recently began handling felony trials.

Colin M. McDonald recently transitioned from a judicial clerkship position to join the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sammer A. Zakhour started the Law Office of Sammer A. Zakhour in April 2014, practicing state and federal criminal defense.

» Class of 2013

David A. Cain joined Ballard Spahr LLP as a finance and restructuring associate, with a special emphasis on the aviation and aerospace industries. In March 2015, David founded the Air Law Institute Collaborative Center and hosted the second annual Air & Space Law Symposium at California Western.

Ed Schwartz successfully completed his first year as a solo practitioner with the help of the law school’s Access to Law Initiative, and was a speaker at this year’s international legal incubator conference hosted by California Western.

» Class of 2014

Crystal L. Culhane (Dusich) joined McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP’s San Diego-North County office, where she is a member of the firm’s intellectual property practice group. Crystal focuses her practice on patent prosecution and counseling, primarily in the areas of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.

Brittney R. Dobbins was recently named litigation associate at Brown Law, where she focuses her practice on employment law and all areas of business litigation. She has particular proficiency in the area of intellectual property, in the context of brand protection.

Sean M. Elo was named one of “San Diego’s Rising 20” by the San Diego Leadership Alliance, an organization dedicated to developing progressive leadership in the city.

Morgan Wazlaw is an attorney at San Diego Land Lawyers, Inc., where her areas of expertise include the California Environmental Quality Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, permitting, stormwater, groundwater, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions.