Congratulations to the Class of 2016. This includes not only our amazing J.D. students but also our outstanding LL.M. students from around the world. We have a wonderful commencement celebration in store as Congressman John Lewis, an iconic 1960s civil rights leader, will deliver the keynote.
This year, the UC Davis School of Law celebrated its 50th anniversary. The California Assembly passed a resolution congratulating the School of Law on this milestone. In March, we celebrated our 50th at the “Celebrating King Hall” event with an inspirational speech from Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye ’84, Chief Justice of California, who received the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.
During this anniversary year, UC Davis School of Law received a number of accolades:
King Hall rose to 30 in the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. Law Professor Brian Leiter once again ranked us among the top 25 schools in scholarly influence. According to the Princeton Review, King Hall ranked in the top 5 for “Best Environment for Minority Students” and “Most Diverse Faculty.” The National Jurist named UC Davis as one of the nation’s best law schools for public service careers.
More than 82 percent of the Class of 2014 graduates secured full-time legal employment within 10 months of graduation – a gain of 8.7 percent over the previous year. Many members of the Class of 2016 secured judicial clerkships, including Hope Alley (U.S. District Court, Alaska), Andrea Gonzales (Alaska Superior Court), Meredith Hankins (Hawaii Supreme Court), Jose Mafnas (Superior Court, Guam), Niall Roberts (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit), Kanu Song (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California), Rebecca Vorpe (U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges), and Lauren Woods (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois). In addition, Bianca Dueñas received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to work with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation serving farmworkers in the Central Valley.
Thanks to a wonderful new program sponsored by UC President Janet Napolitano, the School of Law will offer many post-graduate and summer public service fellowships to our students and recent alumni.
This spring, the School of Law announced the Capital Law Scholars Externship Program, which expands externship opportunities available to students interested in work experience in Sacramento. Sara Jackson, Director of Externships, developed this impressive new externship program.
This academic year brought the launch of the Student Wellness Initiative. The Initiative’s events this year included presentations on how to manage stress, promote mental health, and prevent substance abuse. Several lunches with therapy dogs brought many smiles to King Hall. Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Hollis Kulwin formed a Student Wellness Committee (Sylvia Cunningham, Stephanie Hay, Kelly Healy, Rachael Hiatt, Dane Jones, Emily Peterson, Asya Sorokurs, Rebecca Vorpe) to discuss student wellness concerns and programming. Law Student Association President 2015-16 Samantha Mandell also provided leadership on this issue. This fall, we will add a trained counselor as a student resource. The Student Wellness Committee will continue to promote student wellness at King Hall.
The King Hall faculty, often quoted in the New York Times, Time, CNN, NPR, and other national and international news outlets, continues to excel and be recognized:
This year, we successfully recruited two impressive new faculty members: Irene Joe, a visiting assistant professor at UCLA School of Law, and Aaron Tang, a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. They will join us this fall.
Our King Hall alumni continued to do amazing things in 2015-16. Their many achievements include:
King Hall students made us proud with their many achievements during 2015-16. A few highlights:
King Hall hosted many outstanding events during 2015-16, including:
Congratulations on a terrific year!
Kevin R. Johnson
This week attended a nice luncheon ceremony honoring the students in the Class of 2016 who were selected for the prestigious Order of the Barristers for their exemplary commitment to trial practice and appellate advocacy. Dennis Cota, Trial Practice Advisor, and Michael Canzoneri, Moot Court Advisor, distributed certificates and spoke about the achievements of the new members. The honorees were Andrea Abergel, Anita Bamshad, Dana Cruz, Aaron Israel, Matt Kearney, Abigail Mulvihill, Kanu Song, Addy Tang, Steven Vong and Catherine Wellman. It always is exhilarating to hear about the amazing work of King Hall students.
Congratulations to the new members of the Order of the Barristers!
Earlier this week, our Law Student Association, led by incoming president Alistair Shaw '15, honored the unsung heroes of King Hall: our custodial staff. They are Maureen Dommer, Manoj Kumar, Dennis Kisamore, and Sangeeta Devi.
Coffee and breakfast were served at 6 a.m. -- the early hour was selected because that's when they could all be present. We had a contingent of grateful students in attendance! Senior Assistant Dean of Administration Brett Burns and I joined in the celebration. I had a chance to thank all of them in person for all that they do for King Hall. Maureen mentioned that she will celebrate the end of finals with a family vacation hiking in the Grand Canyon.
Last week saw one of the highlights of the school year. The Public Service graduation is a chance to honor the students of the graduating class who devoted scarce time as law students to do work to help the community. More than half of the Class of 2016 were honored. The highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award. The students nominated for the award by the classmates were:
Eduardo Ramirez Castro
Niall M. Roberts
Bianca Dueñas (pictured) was the honoree. Besides being a mother of two and studying law, Bianca devoted countless hours to help improve the lives of immigrants. She is slated to be an Equal Justice fellow next year and help defend the rights of farmworkers in the Central Valley. I still remember meeting Bianca when she, as a recent Stanford alum, she was thinking of coming to King Hall!!
It is wonderful seeing our students doing great things for the community. Congratulations, students, and thanks for all that you do.
I contributed a blurb for an outstanding documentary film titled "East of Salinas."
Here is a summary of the film: "EAST OF SALINAS begins with 3rd grader José Anzaldo telling us what he wants to be when he grows up. His parents work from sun up to sun down in the heart of California's 'Steinbeck Country,' the Salinas Valley. With little support available at home, José often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, once a migrant farm kid himself. José is Oscar's most gifted student. But how do you teach students like José who have no place to do their homework? How do you teach a kid who moves every few months? This is what Oscar is up against every day. Oscar not only teaches his students reading, math and science, he gives them access to a world beyond their reach. But José was born in Mexico--and he's on the cusp of understanding the implications of that. As we watch this play out over three years, we begin to understand the cruelty of circumstance--for José and the many millions of undocumented kids like him."
I review the film as "A thought-provoking documentary that puts a human face to the raging national debate over undocumented immigration and 'illegal aliens'... It tells of the unsung heroes in our schools, such as dedicated teacher Oscar Ramos, the child of farmworkers himself, who now works to help his students, the children of farmworkers, achieve the American dream."
"East of Salinas" has been featured on a nationwide broadcast of PBS's "Independent Lens" and at the San Diego Latino Film Festival and Independent Film Festival Boston. View a YouTube clip of this incredible film, and learn more at the East of Salinas film website.
I just received this photo from Sacramento Superior Court Judge Emily Vasquez. The photo was taken during the April 13 meeting of the Schwartz/Levi chapter of the Inn of Court.
The photo features the chapter's executive committee, law students, and faculty members in attendance at the recent meeting. King Hall has a strong presence in the Inn of Court, with many faculty, students, and alumni who are members.
Judge Vasquez, chapter president, writes on the chapter's website, "Our members are judges, lawyers and law students from the Sacramento/Yolo County area, and we generally meet in Davis, California, on the second Wednesday of each month from October through June. We are affiliated with the American Inns of Court, which is dedicated to improving the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar."
For more information about the Schwartz/Levi Inn of Court, visit www.schwartzinn.com.
Professor Rose Cuison Villazor forwarded me some exciting news today. Her husband Rodney Villazor is launching a new law firm in New York.
The announcement reads, "We are pleased to announce the launch of Smith Villazor LLP, a new, independent law firm focused on white collar defense, regulatory enforcement investigations, and high-stakes civil litigation. Partners Patrick J. Smith and Rodney Villazor, former federal prosecutors, founded Smith Villazor to help clients with their most serious legal problems."
Congratulations to the Villazor family on the launch of this exciting new venture!
We had a mini-reunion today at King Hall.
Me with Julie Montgomery '96, Professor Amagda Perez '91, and Dan Torres '02
The Water, Labor, and Immigration conference brought back Julie Montgomery ‘96, General Counsel of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and Dan Torres '02, recently appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown as his Director of Immigrant Integration. Professor Amagda Perez '91 and I were happy to see them.
At the conference, I chaired a panel on immigration reform and farm workers; Professor Perez was on the panel.
Senior Associate Dean Madhavi Sunder took the stage at this week’s Soaring to New Heights luncheon, which celebrates diversity at UC Davis.
Dean Sunder is president of the Davis School Board. She is pictured here with Laura Juanitas, Davis schools director of student services. They accepted the Calvin E. Handy Leadership Award of the Diversity and the Principles of Community on behalf of the school district administration and Board of Education. They were honored for their work together to initiate a comprehensive study of the safety and emergency preparedness of our district school sites.
Congratulations on receiving the Calvin Handy Award!
Congratulations to Professor Karima Bennoune, who was honored in San Francisco earlier this week by the International Action Network for Gender Equity & Law (IANGEL). She was presented with the Rights and Leadership Award for 2016.
Photo courtesy Twitter user @AniZonneveld
IANGEL helps to connect pro bono legal assistance with organizations, communities, and activists working for gender equality locally, nationally, and around the world. IANGEL’s founder and president is King Hall alum Nancy J. Newman ’83.
Professors Lisa Pruitt and Lisa Ikemoto, along with a few of Professor Bennoune’s students, attended the award ceremony.
Congratulations, Professor Bennoune!
I often am reminded of the national presence of UC Davis School of Law. Last week, I was honored to participate in the Mitchell Lecture Series at State University of New York, Buffalo law school. King Hall alum Christine Bartholomew '00 teaches civil procedure and antitrust at Buffalo.
It was great catching up with Christine over dinner. She spoke fondly about her days at King Hall and asked me to give her best to professors like Joel Dobris who had a big impact on her evolution as student, lawyer, and law teacher.
Senior Associate Dean Hollis Kulwin attended the recent Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) banquet. She wrote this guest entry for the Dean's Blog. Thanks, Dean Kulwin!
Photo from Instagram @ucdavislaw
On April 7, I spent a wonderful evening at the 5th Annual APALSA Banquet. The banquet room at the Hilton Sacramento was packed with students from APALSA, La Raza and other King Hall student organizations, as well as lots of alumni and members of the Sacramento-area bench and bar.
Kathryn Doi ’85 (pictured, upper right) was the evening’s terrific keynote speaker. Ms. Doi, a former president of the King Hall Alumni Association, delivered an excellent speech, reminding students that “success” is not defined solely by prestige or wealth, and encouraging them to explore paths throughout their legal careers that suit their interests and passions.
Professor Clayton Tanaka, one of several King Hall professors who attended, announced the winners of the APALSA summer grants (pictured, bottom): Erika Watts ’18, who will work for the San Francisco Public Defender; Ken Wang ’18, who will work with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center as part of their Disability Rights Program; and Masao Ito Taylor ’17, who will work for the Asian Law Caucus’ Immigrant Rights program.
Outgoing APALSA Co-Chairs Peter Lee ’17 and Alex Johnson ’17 (pictured, upper left) introduced the 2016-2017 APALSA Board. Next year’s APALSA will be in great hands (just like this year’s).
Many thanks to APALSA for putting on such a great event!
It is always nice to see UC Davis School of Law alums on the news.
Last night, I turned on the local news and saw, in lieu of the regular evening broadcast, a debate of the candidates running for Mayor of Sacramento. Former President pro Tem of the California Senate Darrell Steinberg, King Hall '84, is one of the candidates. I thought he debated well and made us all at his alma mater very proud.
Arizona Supreme Justice Clint Bolick '82, who a couple of years ago gave a Distinguished Alumni lecture at the School of Law, returned to King Hall to give a presentation on immigration reform. The lunchtime event was organized by the students of the Federalist Society.
Justice Bolick and me
Justice Bolick, who encouraged our students to apply for clerkship positions in his chambers, discussed the book he co-authored with former Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution.
Faculty and students were in attendance. The students asked me to comment on Justice Bolick's remarks. It was a great exchange of thoughtful ideas on immigration reform.
The night before, Justice Bolick had dinner with one of his favorite law professors, Joel Dobris. He also saw Professor Emeritus Ed Rabin, another one of his favorites, who came to his presentation.
Recently, the program featured Conrad's classmate Enrique Fernandez '16, who is running for Woodland City Council and was recently profiled here on the Dean's Blog.
Two King Hall students on one program! You can check out Enrique's appearance on Conrad's show on the program's YouTube page.
I had the honor of attending a reception in honor of Professor Cruz Reynoso and the installation of the officers of the Cruz Reynoso Bar Association, which previously had been known as La Raza Lawyers of Sacramento. It was an elegant event, held before a standing room crowd only in the new City Hall in Sacramento last night.
Cruz listens to some of the speakers at the reception in his honor.
The King Hall presence was palpable, including alums Darrell Steinberg, Professor Amagda Perez, Sandra Talbott, Eric Ratinoff, Anel Carrasco, Mary Waltermire, Theo Cuison, Jenni Gomez, Rogelio Villagrana, Fernando Aceves, Gil Roque, Stephanie Finelli, and many, many more. Many judges and justices (and friends of UC Davis School of Law) were in attendance, including Presiding Justice Vance Raye, Justice Elena Duarte and Judges Steve Gevercer, Sonia Cortes, Ken Mennemeier, and others.
Cruz takes the stage to accept one of many awards.
Cruz was honored with presentations and resolutions from the City of Sacramento (Eric Guerra, City Council), the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors (Phil Serna), and others. The crowd gave Cruz a warm and enthusiastic reception, and he spoke eloquently about the continuing Latino civil rights movement.
Once again, this event reminded me how fortunate we are to be a part of the King Hall community.
UC Davis School of Law's presence loomed large at the annual South Asian Bar Association (SABA) reception at the Downey Brand law firm in Sacramento last night. It was an evening of good spirits and good cheer. Justices Ron Robie and Arthur Scotland (retired), along with many attorneys including Kara Ueda ‘00 (former Alumni Board President), were among those in attendance.
For the program, Harveen Gill ’13 (pictured), who is set to go to trial next Monday, introduced the keynote speaker, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Madhavi Sunder.
With warmth and enthusiasm, Dean Sunder offered an inspiration yet realistic appraisal of the "bamboo ceiling" facing Asian Americans in U.S. society today; she emphasized that, although Asian Americans have made great strides in achievements, much work remains to be done to defeat the stereotype of "Asians as foreigners" and ensure the ascendance of Asian Americans to the highest levels of power in American social life.
UC Davis School of Law had a lovely alumni/admitted students reception at the firm of Scott McNutt ‘82 in the trendy SoMa (that’s South of Market) area of San Francisco last week. Scott graciously hosted the event in his firm's new building, which has been recently renovated in elegant fashion.
We had a great turnout and the alums were the best recruiters imaginable for the admitted students, who represented a number of schools including UC Berkeley, Oberlin, University of Texas, Indiana, and many other schools. I offered some recent news from King Hall, including the appearance of Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye ‘84 at the Celebrating King Hall event, the new UC Sacramento Law Scholars externship program, our new Student Wellness Initiative, and more. Scott McNutt offered sage advice on the School of Law and the practice of law in the 21st century. We had a good mix of alums, including former Law Students Association President Victoria Hassid ‘10, Jennifer Yazdi ‘14, Alumni Board Member Gene Woo ‘85, Thomas Rupp ‘11, and many more.
Dean of Admissions Kristen Mercado was in attendance to provide admission advice as only the beloved "Dean M" could. Dean of Career Services Craig Compton told the students about the job prospects for our alums.
It was truly a celebratory evening in the City by the Bay!
Last weekend, the UC Davis Moot Court Board hosted an asylum and refugee national moot court competition. This is one of two national asylum and refugee moot court competitions and our Moot Court Board takes it most seriously.
3Ls Steven Vong and Anita Barooni of the Moot Court Board
Teams from across the country took part in the competition. I provided the welcome remarks. Professors Leticia Saucedo and Brian Soucek, two members of what I believe to be the strongest immigration law faculty in the country, graded briefs for the competition.
Many volunteer judges helped out to make the competition possible, including Immigration Judge Joren Lyons, Professor Evangeline Abriel (Santa Clara), Professor Edward Telfeyan (McGeorge), and Audrey Hemesath (Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of California). The problem for the competitors involved an asylum applicant seeking relief based on membership in a "particular social group" based on his blood type for which a government is discriminating and whether a crime precluded him from relief.
I was asked to judge a preliminary round and judged an argument with Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin. The advocates were outstanding and dealt deftly with a complicated set of facts and law.
The final competition was great to judge and we had a full room of spectators. The advocates, composed of two teams from Columbia Law School, were outstanding. It was a close competition but the petitioners, Lauren Phillips and Elise Lopez, won in a nail-biter.
The Moot Court Board deserves recognition for organizing a first rate competition and on a job very well done. Go King Hall!!!
The law school deans hosted another “Coffee with the Deans” earlier this week. It allowed us all to talk informally with students about, for example, new faculty hires, when the course schedule would be released, and related issues. It really was nice catching up with students!
We hold these casual coffee gatherings quite regularly throughout the academic year at King Hall. Stay tuned for e-mail announcements about upcoming "Coffees with the Deans"!
It is Spring, and 'tis the season for symposia.
This week, our environmental law students group put together a great event on the legal issues surrounding oceans, titled "Changing Ocean Conditions and Emerging Legal Challenges Along the California Coastline."
The symposium program. Photo courtesy of Twitter, @patmulcahy34.
The event was cosponsored by the Environmental Law Society, our law journal Environs, our California Environmental Law & Policy Center, the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute, and the Sacramento County Bar Association.
A great array of environmental lawyers, activists, professors, and students were in attendance bright and early on this rainy day. Professor Rick Frank introduced the keynote speaker. I had the pleasure of welcoming the group and noting our 50th anniversary.
On Wednesday night, the Schwartz/Levi Inn of Court honored UC Davis School of Law on its 50th anniversary.
One of the group photos we took at the Inn of Court gathering
Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye, California Courts of Appeals, Third Appellate District, graciously presented the honor, along with King Hall alum Shama Mesiwala '98. Justice Raye spoke eloquently how the nation was watching Davis, California, as the new law school building was named Martin Luther King Jr. Hall, not long after the tragedy of Dr. King’s assassination. He noted that quickly rose to national and international excellence and that the Schwartz/Levi Inn has gained immensely from its relationship with King Hall faculty and students.
I was pleased to accept the award and invite the Inn members to the Celebrating King Hall event, featuring the Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye '84, and to Commencement 2016, at which civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis will speak. Founding faculty member Floyd Feeney was also honored for his long and dedicated service to King Hall. Floyd spoke about the founding of the school and its visionary leader, Dean Ed Barrett.
It was a wonderful evening. Thanks to the Inn of Court for sharing in our 50th anniversary celebration!
On March 9, the law school hosted the Author’s Alliance for a discussion on “Authorship and the Promise of Digital Dissemination,” sponsored by the School of Law with partners including the Authors Alliance, the UC Davis Humanities Institute, the Institute for the Social Sciences, Center for Science and Innovation Studies, and the Innovating Communication in Scholarship Project. Law school panelists included myself and Professor Mario Biagioli. Other panelists included Authors Alliance founder Pamela Samuelson, who is the Richard M. Sherman '74 Distinguished Professor of Law and Information Management at UC Berkeley, Biology Professor Jonathan Eisen, UC Davis University Librarian MacKenzie Smith, and local science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.
The informal, broad-ranging discussion touched on the Google Books copyright lawsuits and open access publishing of academic works. Professional science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson said he is resistant to open access publishing. Professor Samuelson said that Authors Alliance primarily focuses on the interests of academic authors, who seek broad dissemination of their work, often over desire for economic control and reward. Authors Alliance seeks to help academic and other authors better understand their rights under copyright law. Among other things, Authors Alliance is working on creating a guide to help authors negotiate publication contracts.
La Raza Law Students Association organized a stellar 34th Annual Lorenzo Patiño Banquet on a very rainy Saturday night in Sacramento.
Professor Jasmine Harris was the warm and engaging emcee and ran a timely program honoring the graduating students. Professors Andrea Chandrasekher, Cruz Reynoso, Cappy White, and Amagda Perez, as well as Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Hollis Kulwin were in attendance. I had the honor of awarding the Patiño award for community service and leadership to Bianca Dueñas, who is deeply committed to the empowerment of farmworker communities (like the one she came from). During law school, Bianca worked with California Rural Legal Assistance, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, and the Immigration Law Clinic. Bianca brought a large contingent to the dinner, including her daughter Ayanna and son Luciano and husband Salvador, her parents, brother, and two sisters. Previous award winners Miguel Martin ‘84, Melinda Guzman ‘88, and Jenni Gomez ‘12 were in attendance. The evening ended with an inspiring keynote by Sylvia Torres-Guillen, Special Counsel to the Office of the Governor and former General Counsel of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. She told of her journey from hardscrabble East Los Angeles to Harvard and law school at Berkeley and her fight for social justice for the most vulnerable in our society.
Many distinguished guests and alums were in attendance. Justice Louis Mauro ‘87 of the California Courts of Appeal and Judge Sonia Cortez of the Yolo County Superior Court enjoyed talking with the students.
Congratulations to La Raza Law Students Association for a wonderful evening capping off another amazing year!
We had an action packed end of the week at UC Davis School of Law.
The UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy hosted an amazing conference on unaccompanied minors who migrate to the United States. The keynote speaker was Ariana Flores, pictures above, who is the Oakland School District's Unaccompanied Minors Support Services Specialist. Flores talked about the services the District supplies to unaccompanied immigrant students and had a full house of attendees. Other UC Davis participants in the conference included Professors Cruz Reynoso, Rose Villazor, Jasmine Harris, and Holly Cooper. Students organized a great group of panelists, including Jennifer Chacón (UC Irvine), Karen Musalo (UC Hastings), Kate Jastram (UC Berkeley), Annie Lia (UC Irvine) Rachel Ray (King Hall '11), and Carrie Rosenbaum (King Hall '02).
Across the hall, Judge Emily Vasquez of the Sacramento County Superior Court takes to La Raza Law Students Association as part of their Cesar Chavez week. Judge Vasquez is a dear friend of King Hall and is the president of the local Inn of Court, which counts many of our law students, alums, and faculty as members.