Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

April 28, 2009
New Full-Time Professors to Join Faculty for 2009-10

Southwestern welcomes four new full-time faculty members for the 2009-10 academic year. They include two senior faculty who have been recognized for excellence in teaching and scholarship, an Assistant United States Attorney, and a veteran teacher of legal analysis and writing. All bring outstanding academic and professional credentials as well as tremendous enthusiasm for teaching and research.

Professor Debra Lyn Bassett, from the University of Alabama School of Law, will join Southwestern as a tenured Professor of Law and will teach Civil Procedure, Federal Courts and Complex Civil Litigation. Professor Robert G. Popovich, from Pepperdine University School of Law, will teach Community Property and Contracts as a Visiting Professor of Law. Professor Caleb Mason from the United States Attorney's Office has been appointed as Associate Professor of Law and will teach Constitutional Criminal Procedure and Evidence. Professor Bridgette M. de Gyarfas will serve as a Visiting Associate Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills and will teach LAWS as well as Defenses in the Law and Selected Topics in American Law.

Professor Debra Lyn Bassett comes to Southwestern from the University of Alabama School of Law, where she has been Professor of Law and the Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. Scholar, teaching in the areas of civil procedure, complex civil litigation, federal courts and professional responsibility since 2007. She previously taught law at the University of California, Davis, as well as McGeorge, Michigan State, and Florida State Universities. Earlier in her career, she clerked for the Hon. Mary M. Schroeder, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; was a senior attorney at the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District in Sacramento; and practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco.

Focusing her scholarship primarily on federal litigation and legal ethics, Professor Bassett also writes regularly about rural issues. She is the author or co-author of several casebooks, including two 2008 publications, Federal Courts, 12th Ed. (Foundation Press; with C. Wright and J. Oakley) and Cases and Materials on Civil Procedure, 5th Ed. (Lexis Publishing; with D. Crump, W. Dorsaneo, and R. Perschbacher), as well as more than 20 articles that have been published in major law reviews. She has presented papers on issues such as legal ethics, rural poverty and class action reform at numerous national and international conferences. An elected member of the American Law Institute, Professor Bassett received the UC Davis William and Sally Rutter Distinguished Teaching Award and the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Services, among other honors.

She earned her B.A. degree in Psychology in 1977 from the University of Vermont; her M.S. degree in Counseling in 1982 from San Diego State University; and her J.D. degree in 1987 from the University of California, Davis where she was named to the Order of the Coif. She is a member of the California State and District of Columbia Bars.

Professor Robert Popovich is the Director of International Programs and Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1990 and where he earned his law degree, graduating first in his class. A member of the California State Bar, he began his legal career as an associate with the law firm of Irell & Manella, practicing in the areas of estate planning, taxation and business transactions. Prior to law school, Professor Popovich worked as a Certified Public Accountant with Deloitte & Touche (then Deloitte Haskins and Sells), was a Director of Taxes for a large multinational corporation, and served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Lindmar Data Corporation.

Professor Popovich, who has received the most teaching-related honors of the Pepperdine law faculty, was twice named a Luckman Distinguished Teaching Fellow (1993 to 1998 and 1998 to 2003) and a Teacher of the Year (2005), and was a recipient of the 2006 Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence. He teaches in the areas of community property, contracts, estate planning, federal estate and gift taxation, and federal income taxation. He has also served as the faculty advisor to the Business and Tax Law Society. As the Director of Pepperdine's International Programs, he oversees exchange programs with the University of Copenhagen and Augsburg University, and the Pepperdine London Program.

Professor Popovich earned his B.S. degree in Business Administration and Accounting, with honors, in 1975 from California State University, Northridge; his M.B.T. degree in 1977 from the University of Southern California; and his J.D. degree, summa cum laude, in 1989 from Pepperdine. His father, George Popovich, is a 1954 graduate of Southwestern.


Since 2007, Professor Caleb Mason

has served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of California, where his responsibilities have included all stages of prosecution of criminal cases in the General Crimes section, from investigation through sentencing and appeal. He has also served as pro bono counsel in Ninth Circuit immigration appeals and for Public Counsel. He was previously Law Clerk to the Hon. D. Michael Fisher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.


Professor Mason has taught in the areas of philosophy and law as a member of the faculty at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he developed and directed the pre-law pro bono appellate practicum and presented courses in philosophy; Lake Superior State University (MI), where he was an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Philosophy teaching courses in Logic, Ethics and Philosophy of Law; Stephen F. Austin State University (TX), where he was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy; and Columbia University, where he taught Classics of Western Literature, Logic and Existentialism as a Philosophy Instructor. At Southwestern, Professor Mason will initially teach Constitutional Criminal Procedure and Evidence, and may later teach courses in areas such as constitutional law, criminal law theory, jurisprudence, and law and religious institutions. He has published several law review articles, the most recent in 55 UCLA Law Review

643 (2008), "An Aesthetic Defense of the Nonprecedential Opinion: The Easy Cases Debate in the Wake of the 2007 Amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure."


Professor Mason earned his B.A. degree in Philosophy, cum laude, in 1995 from Colby College; his Ph.D. degree in Philosophy in 2001 from Columbia University; and his J.D. degree, cum laude, in 2005 from Georgetown University where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Law Journal, was active in interscholastic trial competitions, and was involved in the Innocence Project. He is a member of the California and Illinois State Bars.


Professor Bridgette M. de Gyarfas '94, has been a Professor of Legal Analysis and Writing and Assistant Dean of Students at Concord University School of Law since 2002. She has also been teaching Defenses in the Law as a member of Southwestern's adjunct faculty during the 2008-09 academic year. Professor deGyarfas has practiced law as a sole practitioner specializing in general commercial litigation and bankruptcy law, and as an associate with the firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP. She previously served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Kathleen P. March, the Hon. Alan M. Ahart and the Hon. Vincent P. Zurzolo of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. Prior to her legal career, Professor de Gyarfas was a supervisor of a team designing a communications command control system at Lockheed Aircraft Services and a software engineer leading a team developing an audio/visual/graphics system on a large Air Force aircraft training project for Hughes Training, Inc.

Professor de Gyarfas earned her B.S. degree in Computer Information Systems in 1984 from Arizona State University and her J.D. degree in 1994 from Southwestern, where she was Managing Editor of Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Honors Program. She is a member of the California State and District of Columbia Bars.