Chief Justice of California to Speak at Commencement
The Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California, will serve as the commencement speaker at Southwestern's 96th Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2011, at the Shrine Auditorium. At the event, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, as well as alumni Matthew K. Fong '85 and Brian Panish '84, will also receive honorary doctor of laws degrees.
The 28th Chief Justice of California, the Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye is the first Asian-American and second woman to hold the office in state history. She has served on the California trial and appellate bench for the past 20 years. In 1990, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the Sacramento Municipal Court, and in 1997, Governor Pete Wilson elevated her to the Superior Court of Sacramento County. In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated her to the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, and in July 2010, he nominated her to succeed retiring Chief Justice Ronald M. George in the highest office in the California judicial branch. California voters confirmed her to the position in the November 2010 general election.
"We are honored to have such a distinguished and inspiring jurist come to our ceremony," said Dean Bryant Garth.
Following a distinguished career in public service and private practice, the Honorable Matthew K. Fong '85 became President of Strategic Advisory Group, where his primary focus has been in private equity, real estate and greater China-U.S. cross border investment. He is a managing director in MMJ Partners, and serves on the boards of Trust Company of the West Mutual Funds and Seismic Warning Systems Inc. He has also served as Of Counsel to the law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. Beginning in 1990 after several years as a practicing attorney, Mr. Fong provided strong fiscal stewardship in California for eight years, first as Vice Chairman of the State Board of Equalization, and then as State Treasurer when he was one of the highest-ranking elected officials of Asian ancestry in the continental United States. In that capacity, he managed the state's $28 billion investment pool and state bond sales of over $7 billion annually, and served on approximately 40 boards and commissions. Mr. Fong also serves on Southwestern's Board of Trustees.
One of the country's most prominent plaintiffs' attorneys, Brian Panish '84 is a partner in the firm of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP. He has successfully represented clients in numerous high-profile personal injury and products liability cases, including the largest personal injury judgment in American judicial history at the time, Anderson v. General Motors Corp., where he won a $4.9 billion verdict for his clients. He has obtained more than 200 multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements and 13 jury verdicts in excess of $10 million. Mr. Panish has received numerous honors from organizations such as the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles and his undergraduate alma mater, California State University, Fresno. He is ranked among the "100 Most Influential Attorneys in America" by the National Law Journal and in California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Mr. Panish serves on the Board of Governors of Consumer Attorneys Association of California and is a frequent speaker on all aspects of trial procedure in California and the United States.