From the outset, Southwestern’s leadership actively encouraged the enrollment of students from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race, religion or national origin long before most other law schools around the country did so. As a result, numerous outstanding Southwestern graduates have earned a place in history as trailblazers in the law and public service:
Southwestern’s First Graduate
Betty Trier Berry became Southwestern’s first graduate in 1915. She went on to work in the newly founded Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, earning the distinction of being the first woman to work as a public defender in the United States. She is honored with a plaque on the Criminal Courts building in downtown Los Angeles.
On the Bench
Hon. Stanley Mosk ‘35
Longest serving California Supreme Court Justice (1964-2001)
First female African American judge in California
First female African American appellate court justice in the U.S.
Hon. Fred Gabourie ‘63
First Native American judge in California
Hon. Frances Munoz ‘71
First Latino trial judge in the U.S.
First Chinese American federal district court judge in the continental U.S.
Hon. Shala Sabet ‘85
First Iranian appointed as a judge in California
First African American Mayor of Los Angeles; served unprecedented five terms
First African American to chair U.S. Congress House Ethics Committee
First woman and first Latino to serve as Chair of the California Assembly Budget Committee
As California State Treasurer, was highest ranking Asian American elected official in California
Other Public Service and Leadership
First Latina licensed as a an attorney in California
Harriett Buhai ‘55
A leading pro bono attorney representing poor women, for whom the Los Angeles Family Law Project was renamed as the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law
Karen Nobumoto ‘89
First government attorney, first Asian American, and first woman of color elected President of the State Bar of California