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End of Year Message for 2015-2016

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Apr 29, 2016

King Hall Community

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.

50th Anniversary and Many Honors

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:

  • The American Bar Association honored the King Hall Outreach Program with the 2016 Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award for Excellence in Pipeline Diversity.
  • The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics selected the University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center for inclusion in “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education.”
  • The California State Assembly passed a resolution commending the work of the Immigration Law Clinic and Professor Amagda Pérez ’91.

Rise in the Rankings, Career Placement, Clerkships, Externships, and Fellowships

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.

Student Wellness Initiative

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.

Faculty Excellence

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:

  • Professor Karima Bennoune was named Special Rapporteur in cultural rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council; she also received the Rights and Leadership Award for 2016 from the International Action Network for Gender Equity & Law.
  • Under the leadership of Professor Ed Imwinkelried, the Law School established an Academy of Comparative Students on Sino-U.S. Evidence Law with the China University of Political Science and Law, one of China’s leading law schools.
  • Scholarship by Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law Madhavi Sunder and Professor Peter Lee (who received the 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award) were among the most-cited recent Intellectual Property law articles. Dean Sunder also was honored with the Calvin E. Handy Leadership Award of the Diversity and the Principles of Community award.
  • Professor Rose Cuison Villazor was among the most-cited Property scholars under 50.
  • Professor (and Dean Emeritus) Rex Perschbacher was elected to the American Law Institute. Congratulations to Professor Perschbacher upon his retirement. Through expanding and renovating King Hall as well as maintaining and enhancing its commitment to excellence, community, and diversity, his legacy is profound indeed.
  • Under the leadership of Professor Anupam Chander, King Hall hosted the 2016 Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty. California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu and California Assemblymember Rob Bonta were among the luminaries in attendance.
  • Professor Jack Chin and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association were honored by the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County with its 2016 Public Service Award for their efforts on behalf of Hong Yen Chang.
  • Professor Donna Shestowsky received the Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement Award as selected by the Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution at St. John’s University.
  • To honor civil rights legend Cruz Reynoso, La Raza Lawyers of Sacramento was renamed the Cruz Reynoso Bar Association.
  • I was honored to receive an Award for Outstanding Faculty Leadership in Presidential Initiatives for my part in the creation of the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center.

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.

Extraordinary Alums

Our King Hall alumni continued to do amazing things in 2015-16. Their many achievements include:

  • Assemblyman Luis Alejo ‘01 was named as the 2015 Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers-California.
  • Clint Bolick ‘82 was appointed to the Supreme Court of Arizona.
  • Steve Boutin ‘72 was honored as the Sacramento Bar Association’s 2015 Distinguished Attorney of the Year.
  • John Buse ‘92, Adam Keats ‘97, Monique Olivier ‘97, John Pingel ‘09, Steven Rice ‘83, Neil Sekhri ‘87, and Joseph M. Yaffe ‘94 were honored with California Lawyer magazine’s “Lawyer of the Year” awards.
  • Professor Charles Calleros ‘78 of Arizona State University College of Law received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Arizona’s Hispanic Bar Association.
  • Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie ‘95 was honored by the Chief Probation Officers of California with the 2015 Judicial Officer of the Year.
  • Maggy Krell ‘03 was honored by the Anti-Defamation League.
  • Keith Flaum ’89 was named to the Daily Journal’s list of “Top 100 Lawyers in California.”
  • Karen Johnson-McKewan ’85 received the National Association of Women Judges Florence K. Murray Award for influential work supporting women pursuing legal careers.
  • Rachel Krevans ‘84 was named one of “The Top 25 Icons of IP” by Law360.
  • Steve Zipperstein ‘83 was elected to the American Law Institute.

Student Accomplishments

King Hall students made us proud with their many achievements during 2015-16. A few highlights:

  • Sharlene Koonce and Holly Snead won the 47th Annual Neumiller Competition, which was judged by Justice Goodwin H. Liu (California Supreme Court), Judge Consuelo M. Callahan (Ninth Circuit), Justice Louis R. Mauro ‘87, and Justice William J. Murray, Jr. (last two of the California Court of Appeal).
  • Twelve students from the Humanitarian Aid Legal Organization (HALO) went to New Orleans, Louisiana for spring break to work with Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services.
  • Kareem Aref is the chair-elect (2016-17) of the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division.
  • Students in the Immigration Law Clinic prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Katherine Lo and Sue Chang argued the case.
  • Olga Bykov, Dana Cruz, Raina Shah, and Itir Yakar are working with the California Fair Political Practices Commission on a project to overhaul state campaign finance and political lobbying laws.
  • Andrea Abergel, Anita Bamshad, Dana Cruz, Aaron Israel, Matt Kearney, Abigail Mulvihill, Kanu Song, Addy Tang, Steven Vong and Catherine Wellman were inducted into the prestigious Order of Barristers, a national organization honoring achievements in trial practice and appellate advocacy.

Special Events

King Hall hosted many outstanding events during 2015-16, including:

  • Congressman John Garamendi delivered a talk on U.S. foreign policy co-sponsored by the California International Law Center and the King Hall International Law Association.
  • Heather Gerken, J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, delivered the Edward L. Barrett, Jr. Lecture on Constitutional Law.
  • Angela Harris delivered a lecture on black agrarianism to celebrate her appointment to the Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom of Equality.
  • Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, delivered the Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment.
  • Class reunions in October brought about 250 alumni and their families to King Hall to reconnect with classmates.


Congratulations on a terrific year!

Kevin R. Johnson