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NewBestofBarMore than 30 California Western School of Law graduates have been named as “2014 Best of the Bar” attorneys by the San Diego Business Journal. In the inaugural issue of this special feature, San Diego’s top lawyers are showcased.

According to the Business Journal editors, the list was compiled with more than 1,000 votes, cast by 146 law firms and solo practitioners in the county.

The supplement also features a special report on Wendy M. Behan ‘98, of Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield, LLP. Behan, a former president of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, will soon be sworn in as the president of California Women Lawyers, a group that, according to its mission, “promotes the advancement of women in the legal profession and is an active advocate for the concerns of women in society.”

California Western congratulates its alumni named as 2014 Best of the Bar attorneys.

Brewer PILF

Attorney and candidate for District Attorney Robert Brewer speaks at PILF meeting

By 3L Carina Rojo

The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) held its last meeting of the spring trimester on April 3. After announcing the newly elected board members for the 2014-2015 school year, former state and federal prosecutor, Robert Brewer spoke to students about his background and the importance of public service.

Brewer also spoke candidly about his experience prosecuting a Cold War spy during his career as an Assistant U.S. attorney. He recognized that this opportunity would not have been possible had he not pursued a legal career dedicated to public service.
Brewer is now in private practice with Jones Day and is currently running for San Diego County District Attorney.

More on his story of prosecuting a Cold War spy can be found on this link.

Diversity Week

Students and alumni attended the Diversity Mixer

California Western School of Law’s richly diverse environment was on full display during the school’s first annual Diversity Week the week of March 17.

The week-long celebration featured a special Diversity Week Book Display in the library starting Monday with a selection of enlightening reading on issues from gender identity, race and ethnicity, disability and religion.

On Tuesday evening there was a Diversity Reception, hosted by the law school’s Diversity Services Office, featuring alumnus Andrew Jones ’98, who gave an inspiring keynote address.

The Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) presented a “Taste of Asia” cuisine table. The Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA) held a Norooz Bake Sale to celebrate the Persian New Year, with delectable Middle Eastern dishes and the opportunity to learn more about the culture. La Raza Law Students Association (LRSA) hosted a Diversity Debate on Friday evening. And on Saturday, The Hawaii Law Students Association (HLSA) held a Luau at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, featuring Hawaiian cuisine and dancers.

“Taste of Asia” brought an array of popular Asian foods from local restaurants in the San Diego community directly to the CWSL lobby. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness to students, faculty, staff, and the greater legal community about the diverse cultures and traditions within Asia.

“As the Asian-American community in San Diego grows, we think it is important for future and practicing attorneys to celebrate what makes each Asian culture special and unique,” says APALSA president 2L Christina Tantoy. “APALSA hopes that by highlighting these features with table stations representing different countries, our guests will be able to learn more about Asian culture while getting together and enjoying some great food.”

On Thursday, MELSA celebrated Norooz, the Persian New Year, with delectable Middle Eastern dishes, and the opportunity to learn more about the culture.
At the La Raza Law Students Association’s Diversity Debate on Friday evening, the question being debated was, “Whether federal financial aid should be available to undocumented immigrants to pay for higher education.” This was the second consecutive Diversity Debate, and La Raza hopes to make it an annual tradition.

“The Diversity Week speaker, Andrew Jones ’96, gave a moving account of overcoming racism and dispossession in Mississippi to become a respected attorney in San Diego,” said Marion Cloete, California Westerns Director of Diversity Services. “The library’s participation with a diversity book display and the Diversity Week Debate rounded out the week’s learning opportunities. Taste of Asia, the Norooz Bake Sale, and the traditional Luau contributed memorable culinary and cultural experiences. I, for one, look forward to the second annual Diversity Week in 2015!”

California Western fully embraces the belief that a diverse student body enriches the academic and interpersonal experiences of the law school. Thirty-six percent of our students are from diverse backgrounds, and the law school has been named a “Diversity Star” by preLaw Magazine.



ACA and Contraceptives Panel

Professors Joana K. Sax, Susan A. Channick and Glenn C. Smith with Eric A. Isaacson

On the eve of the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius case, California Western School of Law hosted a panel discussion on the main issue raised by the case: whether the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The panel, “Is Contraception Coverage Contra Religious Freedom?”, was sponsored by the Institute of Health Law Studies at California Western, and was moderated by IHLS co-director Professor Joanna K. Sax.

California Western Professor Susan A. Channick, also a co-director of the IHSL, explained that the Affordable Care Act requires that preventative care be offered without cost by health insurers of for-profit companies, including all available forms of contraception.

The March 24 evening event was not a debate, but rather a discussion outlining arguments on both sides of the case, without advocating for either position.

California Western Professor Glenn C. Smith outlined the Hobby Lobby case for the large audience—that the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act compelling employers to provide insurance that covers contraceptives violates the RFRA. Hobby Lobby is owned by an evangelical Christian family that argues that providing contraceptives violates their religious beliefs.

San Diego attorney Eric A. Isaacson outlined the government’s case—that Congress did not plan to abridge religious freedoms when passing RFRA and that exempting evangelical Christians would open the door to many kinds of exceptions to the nation’s laws based on religious beliefs. Isaacson also raised the issue of whether the beliefs of a corporation’s owners can affect the religious freedom of that corporation’s employees.

All of the panelists agreed that the high court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case is likely to have far-reaching effects. A decision in the case is expected before the end of the court’s term in June.

About The Institute of Health Law Studies
The Institute of Health Law Studies (IHLS) is an interdisciplinary center joining together legal, health, medical, and scientific communities to address important issues through advocacy, education, community service, and scholarship.

PILF Auction 2014

Professor Glenn Smith conducts the PILF Live Auction at the San Diego County Bar Association Center

By 3L Carina Rojo

On Thursday, March 13, California Western’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) held its annual auction to raise money for the Josi Dixon Summer PILF grants. PILF is dedicated to increasing awareness among law students about the inequities that exist in the legal system. The organization also encourages students to work in public interest law by providing volunteer opportunities and scholarship funds for summer internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

The silent auction took place from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the lobby of California Western’s classroom building with more than 40 items for students, faculty, and staff to bid on. All auction items were donated by California Western faculty, staff, and local San Diego businesses, such as Ballast Point Brewery, Pizza Port and many more.

Some of the items donated by California Western faculty and staff included: four VIP Padres tickets, donated by Dean Niels Schaumann; Texas BBQ for 10 students, donated by Professor Ken Klein and his wife, Lisa Black; and a Google Nexus 7 tablet, donated by Director of Development Bill Healy.

This was a big year for the student organization as it was the first time in more than a decade that the live auction portion of the event was held off campus—at the San Diego County Bar Association Center in downtown San Diego.

PILF’s executive board—President Dayna Ellsworth; Vice President Mehry Mohseni; Treasurer Angelika Dimopoulos; and Secretary Carina Jordan—are very grateful for all of its members, auctioneer Professor Glenn Smith, and the administration who were able to make this year’s auction a success.

Josi Dixon grant recipients will be honored on Tuesday, April 1 at the Pro Bono Honors Society Induction Ceremony.

More information about the Josi Dixon Summer PILF Grants can be found here.


Photo caption: (Left to right) 2L Justin Behravesh, 2L Jazmin Clark,  civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, 2L Jennifer Monterroso, 2L, Stephanie Caloca, 2L Nadine Valdecini, and 2L Trashon Herndon

(Left to right) 2L Justin Behravesh, 2L Jazmin Clark, civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, 2L Jennifer Monterroso, 2L, Stephanie Caloca, 2L Nadine Valdecini, and 2L Trashon Herndon

A group of six second-year California Western students recently attended the 2014 American Bar Association Judicial Clerkship Program (JCP) in Chicago, a three-day conference. Two of our students who attended, Jennifer Monterroso and Nadine Valdecini, share their accounts of the experience.

2L Jennifer Monterroso

“Attending this year’s Judicial Clerkship Program was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Before participating in JCP, I thought that the purpose of a diverse judiciary was solely to ensure that different perspectives are taken into account when issuing rulings and opinions. The JCP conference really brought to light a purpose that I had never considered before: with a diverse bench, many people feel more likely to receive a fair trial. It was really inspiring to hear that restoring faith in the judiciary is the overarching goal of the program and that by attending the conference, we, as students, were learning how to contribute.

“I can honestly say that as a law student, I never expected to pitch my ideas to a judge from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but at the JCP, that is exactly what I did.”

At first the program was a little intimidating in the sense that the students were completely outnumbered by judges and distinguished staff attorneys from all across the country. We were divided into groups that consisted of five students and five judges, then given a research assignment to discuss with our judges over the course of the program. This was undoubtedly the best feature of the program because we were able to talk to the judges about what we thought of the case, listen to their take on the issue and find out what they look for when they review assignments with law clerks. I can honestly say that as a law student, I never expected to pitch my ideas to a judge from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but at the JCP, that is exactly what I did.

In addition to getting to know judges and attorneys on a personal level, one of the more rewarding takeaways of the JCP was getting to know the other students. Before the JCP, I did not really know any of the other five students selected to represent California Western. After spending a week getting to know each other over deep-dish pizza from Giordano’s, trekking through the freezing cold trying to find ‘The Bean,’ and sharing meaningful conversations about the importance of diversity; we definitely bonded. It was interesting to find out that despite being considered ‘diverse’ for different reasons, we all felt the same pressures and struggles and could really relate to each other on that level.

Overall, participating in the JCP was an incredibly rewarding experience and one that I wish everyone had the opportunity to share.”

2L Nadine Valdecini

“I was honored to attend the program. There were student representatives from 14 different law schools, more than 70 judges, American Bar Association board members and staff, along with select attorneys from across the country gathered with one goal: to encourage diversity in the composition of judicial clerkships.

JCP was tailored so that students and judges were continually interacting. During the program we were introduced to the participating judges, had two opportunities to ask them questions concerning judicial clerkships as they all sat as a panel. We also attended an oral argument for a criminal case at the Appellate Court of Illinois, and participated in a research project where students and judges collaborated and discussed a Fourth Amendment issue, then drafted a proposed opinion in outline form.

In addition, we were invited to the ABA’s 2014 ‘Spirit of Excellence’ Awards Ceremony upon the conclusion of the program on day three. At this Awards Ceremony, we witnessed lawyers receiving recognition for their outstanding achievements and commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.

“The JCP experience was both personally and professionally fulfilling. The opportunity to meet with more than 70 judges at one place during a three-day conference is a rare treat.”

The JCP experience was both personally and professionally fulfilling. The opportunity to meet with more than 70 judges at one place during a three-day conference is a rare treat. The judges offered a vast amount of insight for law students, including: resume feedback, what they expect of their judicial clerks, what not to write on a cover letter (‘I got the magic’), when and how to apply for a clerkship in each of their respective locations, shared how they manage to put personal opinions behind them to be objective when making judicial decisions, and shared how they deal with the weight of their decision-making roles.

The program judges’ commitment to working with law students left us feeling more confident in our abilities to excel as prospective judicial clerks, comfortable working alongside judges, and inspired to pursue a judicial clerkship. JCP was an amazing opportunity for confidence-building, skill development, and professional networking. It has truly been one of my favorite law school experiences thus far.”

California Western Students Receive Lloyd Ellis Griffin Scholarship

California Western Students Receiving the Lloyd Ellis Griffin Scholarship

Six California Western students recently received the Lloyd Ellis Griffin Scholarship, named for the late California Court of Appeal judge. The scholarships are presented each year by the Order of the Eastern Star, a fraternal organization, on the anniversary of Griffin’s birth.

Second-year students Jordan B. Du Bois and Ashley B. Yosuico and third-year students Alyn B. Beauregard, Troy B. Holan, Erik N. Weber, and Maigan K. Wright will use their awards to defray the cost of attending law school. Each is well on their way to a rewarding career in law.

• Beauregard serves as a judicial extern for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and has clerked for the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court and the United States Attorney for the Southern District. After graduating this spring, she hopes to practice business law.

• Du Bois is a member of California Western’s traveling mock trial team and currently works as an intern with the San Diego District Attorney’s office. His career goal is to work in a public prosecutor’s office in California.

• Holan is a certified legal intern for the Office of the Primary Public Defender in San Diego, and plans to practice criminal defense. He was inspired in this pursuit by his work with the California Innocence Project.

• Weber is a published author and Special Olympian, and plans to use his law degree and his personal experience as a person with autism to advocate for the rights of the disabled.

• Wright works as a risk management intern with Scripps Health in San Diego and will earn a special concentration in health law this spring. She hopes to work in hospital risk management.

• Yosuico holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and plans to work in family law. This semester she is an intern at the National Family Justice Center Alliance.

About Judge Lloyd Ellis Griffin
Griffin was named to the bench of the San Diego Municipal Court in 1923 and the Superior Court in 1927, where he served 11 years before his nomination to the 4th District Court of Appeal by Governor Frank Merriam in 1938. He served as presiding judge for seven years before his retirement in 1965, after which he worked with the San Diego law firm of Higgs Fletcher & Mack. Griffin died in 1978 at the age of 83.

Griffin was an active member of several Masonic organizations and served as Grand Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star in California in 1933. In recognition of his service to the community, to the law, and to his fraternal orders, the Lloyd Ellis Griffin Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships to deserving undergraduate and law students with ties to Masonic organizations.

Scott Peters Speaking

Rep. Scott Peters speaks to students at an event sponsored by the American Constitution Society

Lays out pathway from legal practice to politics

From environmental lawyer to congressman—Representative Scott Peters (D-San Diego) shared his story with students at California Western School of Law on January 21. The event was sponsored by the student chapter of the American Constitution Society.

Peters said his experience as an environmental lawyer helped him become the first Democrat to be elected to the San Diego City Council in his politically conservative district because, as he said, “Republicans surf too,” and they wanted to elect an environmentalist to help clean up the beaches from a series of sewage spills.

Legal skills have been a major asset to Peters as a congressman.

“The legal skills have been really important in how I handle the job in a couple of ways, Peters said. “A lot of techniques you learn as a trial lawyer are really helpful, both in campaigning and running for office, and in how you manage your office and get legislation passed. I run my offices a lot like a law firm—hiring people who can solve problems like they teach you right here.”

Peters adds that courtroom experience can translate into how you communicate with voters. “Voters are very much like a jury,” Peters told the students. “Here are the facts, here is the case. The legal skills are tremendously helpful.”

However, he cautions that you can’t sound like a lawyer when you are talking to voters.

“You speak like you’re talking to your mom or to your 8th grader,” said Peters.

Speaking frankly, Peters laid out his positions on the issues most important to him in Congress.

“On Civil rights, there is no compromise,” Peters said. “You just need to need to win those battles.”

Another cause Peters is fighting for is to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to “take the money out of politics.”

He is working on solutions to Climate change, which he says tends to be a very partisan issue.

“In terms of the economic issue, I’m looking to work with the Republicans to get the economy going so people can get back to work,” Peters said.

Peter’s presentation was followed by a wide-ranging question and answer period that covered topics like defense spending, Iran’s nuclear program, and his advice for law students who are interested in public service.

“Find ways to engage in the community,” Peters said in answer to the question about advice for law students. “Do a lot of listening to find out what’s on people’s minds. Start to engage.”

“I really like the fact that he tried to answer everyone’s questions,” said 1L Thomas Feerick. “His answered showed he really connects with his constituency rather most Congressmen. He cares about what the students—especially the younger generation students.”

“I felt like he really responded well to the questions,” said 2L Casey Lowe.  “I thought he gave some thoughtful answers, and he was very sincere, which you don’t really expect from politicians these days.”

“A lot of Democrats still are afraid to embrace civil rights issues. I’m pleased to hear that he’s very forthcoming about that,” said 3L Leah Reeves. “He’s also cognizant about financial issues on which a lot of Democrats tend to be less in tune.”

California Western students in the American Constitution Society and other student organizations are committed to using the law to solve problems. The ACS’s goal is to strengthen the values of respect for human dignity, protection of individual rights and liberties, and access to justice for everyone.

3Ls attend "What to Do After Graduation" presentation

3Ls attend “What to Do After Graduation” presentation

Career Services offers quite a few excellent suggestions

Third-year students ask themselves some very important questions, but maybe none more important than: What do I do after graduation?

Asha Wilbun, the Graduate Advisor in the California Western Career Services office, had answers to that question during two presentations she did for 3Ls the week of November 11—appropriately titled:  “3Ls: What to Do After Graduation.”

Wilbun lists several important things 3Ls should do between now and graduation:

Researching post-graduate and post-bar employment opportunities
Let Career Services help you come up with a job search action plan

However, Wilbun adds, you should always have at least three backup plans when it comes to finding the right position for you.

While preparing for the bar exam, Wilbun says you should have a current resume and cover letter ready to go, stay in touch with your networking contacts as time permits, and STUDY, STUDY, STUDY, because “studying for the bar is a full-time job.”

After you take the bar and before you learn the results, Wilbun says there is plenty to keep you busy. She advises re-connecting with your contacts, attending as many legal functions as you can, applying for temporary law clerk positions and doing volunteer work.  As with studying for the bar, she says, “treat your job search as a job.”

Once you pass the bar, Wilbun offers a number of options for finding a job and some of the finer points of salary negotiation, which can be an anxiety-filled experience.

Of course, Wilbun reminds everyone of the resources in the law school’s Career Services office.

“Anything we can do!” she says. “That’s what we’re here for!”

3L Tyler Talbot felt the presentation was timely. “It gives me an idea about what I need to start doing now,” he says.

“You just need to have a plan and if you don’t have a plan then you’re not going to have a job,” adds 3L Kris Reich.

“I liked getting the timeline for what we should be doing when and tips for salary negotiations,  because that’s something that I’ve been apprehensive about doing,” says 3L Tamara Martin. ”Those parts were really, really good. And the list of job sites was also really helpful.”

If you missed the event, you can view the entire presentation on PANOPTO by clicking on this link. You can also make an appointment for individual counseling about what to do after graduation by calling 619-525-7087, or feel free to stop by the office in person.

SALDF members Emily Harvin (left) and Paige Stevens collect blankets for local animal shelters

SALDF members Emily Harvin (left) and Paige Stevens collect blankets for local animal shelters

Walking through the lobby of 350 Cedar Street, it’s hard to miss the table where the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) is holding a blanket drive for shelter animals as winter approaches.

“The blankets will go to shelter animals and help them stay warm this winter,” says 3L Emily Harvin of SALDF. “These shelters don’t have the resources they need so they’re in great need of these towels and blankets.”

The drive runs from November 5-7, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and the two shelters SALDF is supporting are The Barking Lot in El Cajon and the San Diego Humane Society.

The group has purchased several pet blankets and is selling them for $5 apiece to offset the cost—and there are plenty of takers.

“The drive is going great—we have purchased blankets for people to buy and donate and have received more than 50 blankets, towels and sheets our first day,” says 3L Paige Stevens. “SALDF is proud to help support local shelters around San Diego and this is a simple way to keep the animals warm and comfortable.”

“We just thought it’d be a good to get the whole community at CWSL involved in our group,” adds Harvin. “We thought a blanket drive is something everyone can identify with and feel like they can help out with. We already have donated four big bags of towels and blankets to Barking Lot, so it’s been a big success so far.”

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