New Collaboration with the Drucker School Yields Dual Degree Opportunities in Law and Management
Southwestern has joined forces with The Drucker Graduate School of Management, part of the Claremont Graduate University, to create exciting new dual degree programs that will help Southwestern and Drucker students' enhance their educational and career options by concurrently earning a J.D. and Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A.) or a J.D. and Masters in Management (M.A.M.).
"This new collaboration presents a splendid opportunity for Southwestern to expand our law students academic credentials and career opportunities and to encourage promising Drucker management students to pursue a legal education at Southwestern," said Dean Bryant Garth. "In the future, our two institutions may also benefit from joint research activities, co-sponsorship of certification programs and symposia, sharing of course materials and curricula, and other cooperative efforts. We look forward to this exciting new partnership." Read more.
Dean Garth with Dean Ira
Jackson of the Drucker School
Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the new Joint Degree Program with The Drucker School.
Southwestern Partners with Tavis Smiley for State of the Black Union 10th Anniversary
Southwestern's Black Law Students Association (BLSA) will participate for the first time in Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union 10th Anniversary Celebration,
an annual symposium featuring scholars, political leaders, celebrities
and other prominent members of the African American community who
gather to discuss current issues and ideas. The law school has also been designated as an official Community Sponsor of State of the Black Union. After being held annually
at major cities around the country, the event returns to its original
hosting site at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 28, with
activities scheduled from 8am to 5pm. This year's theme is "Making
America as Good as its Promise," capturing the essence of what it has
meant for African Americans to be enlightened, encouraged, and
empowered by these solution-driven conversations over the years.
members will represent Southwestern in an expo booth and as volunteers
during the event. Second-year student Joy Terrell, a vice president of
BLSA, was instrumental in orchestrating Southwestern's involvement.
"Part of Southwestern's greatness is its commitment to diversity. The
law school's eagerness to support Tavis Smiley's State of the Black
Union demonstrates how strong that commitment really is," she said.
"This event has been one of the most anticipated African American
events for the past decade now, and many thought-provoking
conversations have taken place on ways to make Black America better."
She said that the Southwestern BLSA contingent is proud to be
representing the law school at the historic gathering and encourages
all members of the Southwestern community to attend. Read more.
Alumni-Student Networking Receptions
The Alumni Association works with various student organizations on campus to increase the opportunities for networking between our students and alumni. The remaining receptions this semester are:
- March 24: Entertainment & Sports Law Society Alumni/Student Networking Reception
- March 31: PLEAS Alumni/Student Networking Reception
- April 2: Criminal Law Society Alumni/Student Networking Reception
All students are welcome to attend. Contact Institutional Advancement to RSVP or with any questions.
Donald L. Stone Inn of St. Ives Dinner Series
The Alumni Association sponsors this special series which provides opportunities for students to meet, network and discuss ideas with practicing attorneys. A topic is identified by the host(s) of the dinner where six practitioners and six students are invited to dine at the law school and engage in a discussion about the topic. Dinners are held six times a year. The last Inn date of this semester is Thursday, March 19. All continuing students are eligible to participate. For more information or to reserve a seat, contact Sharon Malolot in the Institutional Advancement Office.
Three Law Deans Debate Prop 8 at Southwestern
The Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) will present a debate on California's Proposition 8 on Monday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Louis XVI Room. The program will feature Dean John Eastman of Chapman University School of Law arguing for, and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Irvine School of Law arguing against the heated initiative regarding the right of same-sex couples to marry. Moderating the event will be Southwestern's own Dean Garth. Nancy Knupfer '90, President of the BHBA, invites all Southwestern faculty and students to attend at no charge. However, those who plan to attend MUST RSVP to Pamela Weston at the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
Don't Miss "Reforming Copyright"
On Friday, March 6, Southwestern's Biederman Institute will present Reforming Copyright: Process, Policy and Politics, a day-long symposium focusing on the distinctive issues and challenges of significantly reforming the Copyright Act of 1976. To learn more about the symposium, which is free for Southwestern students and faculty (registration still required), or to register, click here.
The Career Services Office (CSO) encourages students to attend the following events.
Panel Presentation: Alternative Careers for Lawyers
Ever wonder what you could do with a law degree besides working for a law firm? Listen to the experiences of some law school graduates who didn’t take the "traditional" legal job on Wednesday, March 18 at 12:30 p.m. in W311. Lunch will be served.
The ABCs of Being a Law Clerk
Are you uncertain about what a “law clerk" does? Do you know what to expect in your upcoming summer position? Find out the answers to these questions and be better prepared for what you will be doing on Tuesday, March 24 at 12:30 & 5:00 pm in W311.
Public Interest and Post-Graduate Fellowships
Learn about the many opportunities available to you for post-graduate fellowships on Thursday March 26 at 12:30 and 5:00 p.m. in W311. There are fellowships available in a variety of areas, including public interest. These workshops are important for 1Ls and 2Ls because these positions tend to require a good deal of preparation time. Plus, you may have to apply as early as fall of your last year in school.
Questions on any of the above events may be directed to the Career Services Office.
Mr. David Rodriguez, Financial Aid Counselor, earned his B.S. in Business Management from Pepperdine University. He is currently completing his M.A. in Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento. Mr. Rodriguez brings almost a decade of extensive financial aid knowledge and experience ranging from a Financial Aid Technician at both Citrus College and California State University, Long Beach to an Associate Director of Financial Aid at the Art Center College of Design. He has also served as an Account Manager with Sallie Mae, with proven success in business to business sales in the student lending industry, in addition to serving as Senate Fellow/Legislative Aide in the Office of Senator Richard Alarcon.
Lina Hablian has been promoted from Financial Aid Counselor to Financial Aid Support Coordinator.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Q: With a Ph.D. and all of your formal education in Sociology, what made you decide to transition from teaching in the Department of Sociology at the University of Denver to the university's law school?
A: Well, actually, when I entered the Ph.D. program I already knew that my specialty would be sociology of law. I was hired by the law school as I completed my degree. Initially, I taught one course for sociology each year, and as I expanded my teaching within the law school, I stopped teaching in the Sociology Department. I knew I wanted to teach Law and Society.
Q: What do you think are some of the most important sociological issues in the legal profession today? How have these issues evolved since you began teaching at the Sturm College of Law in 1977?
A: I actually think that there have been some dramatic market changes in the legal profession since I began teaching at the law school. Those changes have altered the structure of law firm practice. One is simply the question of competition. There's much more competition in today's legal market. That means law firms need to be smarter and more aggressive in the marketplace. That has changed several aspects of hiring, promotion, competition and retention.
In the 1970s, lockstep compensation systems were in place where an attorney's level of compensation was determined by date of graduation from law school. It created a very collegial atmosphere without a lot of in-fighting. Today we have productivity compensation, or as it is sometimes called, 'eat what you kill,' based on hours worked and clients brought to the firm. Not only has this increased competition between law firms but also within individual firms. In a lot of the interviews I've conducted over the years, lawyers have talked about how the atmosphere of law firms have changed since the 1970s. They're much more competitive now.
As compensation changed in the early to mid 1980s, that's the moment women and minorities entered the profession in significant numbers. Other things that have happened include an increase of time for promotion from associate to partner. The partnership track has been extended. In large firms, what used to be a five-year track now takes 10 to 12 years. In recent years, firms have introduced multi-tier partnerships. Now we have equity and non-equity partners. Most attorneys are first named non-equity partner, which means you're an income partner or a 'partner without power,' as some interviewees have called it. You don't share in the management decisions of the firm and you don't share in its profits.
Q: What are some of the most surprising discoveries you've made through your participation in the "After the J.D." project?
A: My research for more than a decade has focused on women in the legal profession. I am surprised by the continuing gap in pay between men and women in the legal profession. After two years in practice, we've discovered a 5 percent gap between men and women. Using decomposition - a form of analysis - we've found that 75 percent of this 5 percent gap cannot be explained by the school they attended or their GPA. In fact, women on average have higher law school GPAs than men. Most of the 5 percent gap is accounted for by the fact that these are women. Some may say, 'it's only 5 percent,' but past research shows that small gaps in pay will grow over time. When we get the second wave of AJD data (in July 2008), we'll see if the gap persists and if we find it, how much has the gap increased? The new stats will look at the participants who are now 7 years out of law school.
Q: How did your research collaboration with Dean Garth begin?
A: We were introduced many years ago at a Law and Society meeting by mutual friends. The then Dean of Indiana (University School of Law), where Dean Garth was a professor, introduced us. And then I have to say that we probably got to know each other a lot better because we both like to ski and over the years I've skied with him and his children in Colorado. I've watched his children grow into adults and mature from beginning skiers to being able to ski way beyond what I can do.
Q: Of your numerous scholarly publications, which has been the most rewarding for you to write and why?
A: Up to this point, it is probably "Sticky Floors, Broken Steps, and Concrete Ceilings in Legal Careers," which I wrote with my colleague Professor Nancy Reichman for the Texas Journal of Women and the Law (2004). It was the culmination of work we had done on Colorado lawyers. We traced careers of 100 lawyers, men and women, and how their careers evolved over time. We found things that were both surprising and disturbing about men and women lawyers.
During the course of my research, I've interviewed men and women to find out why women aren't progressing the same way as men. And I discovered that things are the same now as they were 10 years ago. I keep getting told that it's just a matter of time before women rise to the level of partners and corporate partners. Women began entering the legal profession in the 1980s in substantial numbers, and by 2000, they were going to law school in equal numbers (to men). But the number of women who are law firm partners has remained static since 1990. We really talked to people about every decision they made in their careers and found that women moved earlier in their careers, moved more frequently and moved in ways that are not necessarily upwardly mobile (more lateral mobility is observed). Many would suggest that this is because they want to have children and stay home with them for a while, but you find women moving who don't have children. It has more to do with the structure of law firm practice.
Another thing women talked about is that they perceive that they do not get the high quality assignments that their male colleagues get and that could make a big difference at promotion time. Women are much more likely to serve on recruitment committees than men. While these are important activities for the firm, they can be classified as 'invisible work.' It's important, but you don't get any credit for doing it.
The "After the J.D." study has also shown evidence that men and women are equally satisfied with their decision to become lawyers, and women more satisfied with the substantive aspects of this profession. However, women tend to be less satisfied with collegial relations in their practice settings than their male counterparts.
We asked participants: Do you go to lunch with partners? Do you spend recreational time with partners? Men are much more likely to report that they do. That is very consistent with a social capital framework. It simply means that in building social capital (building relationships), the more relationships you cultivate and the more diverse those relationships, the greater the opportunities for mobility.
Q: What do you think has been the most significant change for women in the legal profession over the last 20 years? What challenges still exist for women in the legal profession?
A: I actually think that work-life balance is still very much an issue. Women still have to be more assertive about how they want to structure their careers. When women begin a family and want to take family leave, they struggle with how to present their request to their employer. Our research shows that women who tell firms what they want in terms of time off and workload when they return from maternity leave are often granted their wishes.
Legal employers need to come up with ways to encourage women to stay in firms on partnership track. Change depends on forming a solid core of women who are partners with power. The issue of family leave is even more problematic in small firms where they are not governed by EEOC, and not required to comply and grant maternity leave. Small firms are much more difficult in this regard.
Q: Describe your research as a visiting scholar at Stanford Law School in 1985-86.
A: At that time there were two projects I was working on. One was a project I did with my mentor/dissertation advisor on Law and Development. I also worked with Professor Lawrence Friedman, a legal historian at Stanford and came back to Colorado to study the history of civil courts in Denver. In fact, I have a forthcoming article about the history of tort litigation in Denver that I wrote with Nancy Reichman.
Part of my goal was to take law classes at Stanford, which I did. I took first-year classes to broaden my knowledge of the law. I had to work at learning to think like a lawyer.
Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of serving as a Visiting Professor?
A: It's really reenergizing to be able to go to a new faculty where you can learn about the activities going on, to surround yourself with a new set of peers, as well as a whole new group of students. Southwestern is especially exhilarating because I'm coming to a large metro area and having a much more diverse student body contributes to my own intellectual excitement.
Q: What impressed you most about Southwestern when you participated in the "After the J.D." Symposium in October 2006?
A: I'd have to say that both the students who put on the conference, as well as the staff, were just phenomenal in supporting the participants. It was very smoothly run
Q: What is the most important piece of advice you will give to students in your Legal Profession class? (What has been the most important advice you've dispensed in your Law and Society class at the University of Denver?)
A: For my Law and Society class, one of the things I do is bring in some of the research on how the profession has changed. I want students to know more about the marketplace that they are going to enter after graduation. I emphasize this information in both classes, actually.
The other thing that I think is very important: the fact that the changing structure of the legal profession and the increase in competition may make lawyers feel pressured to cross boundaries and rationalize behaviors that could lead to the loss of their license.
Another small piece of advice I tell students is - a lawyer should always remember to be responsive to clients and remember that they are delivering a service to their clients. As silly as it sounds, being nice to clients is more important than anyone ever realizes. Once they are lawyers, students will discover that responding to client calls and always being attentive to clients' needs lead to lawyers who will not be grieved and will have clients satisfied with their work.
Q: With the popularity of crime dramas on TV and in movies, describe an aspect of scientific evidence about which popular culture - as well as your students - may have misconceptions?
A: One of the areas that I cover is DNA evidence. Shows like "CSI" make it look like we're going to bring in blood evidence and we simply put it in the computer and we will know who committed the crime. TV makes it appear as if technology solves all crimes. It leaves out all the technical aspects of introducing valid scientific evidence.
For example, in the OJ case, the LAPD's scientific lab didn't do the best job with blood samples. As a result, the trial emphasized omissions and mistakes: Was the lab careful about their procedural protocols? Could there have been contamination of blood in the lab? Since that high profile case, we have learned that the successful use of scientific evidence takes an understanding of both the science and the law.
Crime shows are exciting and fun to watch but they do not paint a realistic picture of how easy or difficult it is to use this evidence.
Q: If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
A: That's a really interesting question. I guess I'd have two entirely different responses.
With concern about society on a macro level, I would like to be in a policy position where I could make a difference in terms of restructuring the distribution of wealth in society and doing something about poverty, where I felt like I could accomplish something that helps people.
The other, totally different answer is, either being an architect or interior decorator. The idea of creating an environment for living has always intrigued me.
PROFESSOR RONALD ARONOVSKY
PROFESSOR ALAN CALNAN
- Appointed, Executive Committee, AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution
PROFESSOR MARK CAMMACK
- Perspectives on Asbestos Litigation: Overview and Preview, 37 SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 459 (2008; with B. Stier)
- Conference Co-Organizer and Presenter, "An Overview of the Administration of Islamic Law in Indonesia," Creating Islamic Lawyers and Judges: Islamic Law in the Law Schools and Judicial Training Academies of Muslim Southeast Asia Conference, National University of Singapore
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE FACULTY ACTIVITIES -
Prominent Members of the Los Angeles Business and Legal Communities Join Southwestern Board
Three distinguished Southwestern alumni have been elected to the law school's Board of Trustees: Darin J. Feinstein '98, CEO of Blackhawk Capital Partners, Inc.; Hon. Matthew K. Fong '85, President of Strategic Advisory Group and former California State Treasurer; and Sheryl E. Stein '78, partner in the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.
Feinstein, Fong and Stein
"Mr. Feinstein, Mr. Fong and Ms. Stein are all respected business leaders who bring extensive expertise in the financial, legal and government arenas to our board," Dean Bryant Garth said in his announcement. "Their knowledge and enthusiastic support of their alma mater will greatly enhance our efforts toward the advancement of Southwestern." Read more.
Trial Advocacy Team Wins NTC Regional Competition
Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) team of Maryam Parsioon, Ken Holdren and Andrew Caple-Shaw won First Place at the Southwest Regional Round of the National Trial Competition (NTC), which was held in Fullerton. It is the first time Southwestern's TAHP team has won this competition. The team will compete March 25 to 28 at the Nationals, which will be held in San Antonio, Texas.
Parsioon, Holdren and Caple-Shaw
For the regional competition, the team tackled a fictitious case very similar to the one involving Michael Vick and dog fighting, which had captured the media's attention last year. Southwestern alumni Anthony Koutris '95 and Brandy Chase '06 coached the winning team. "This case was sanitized of the grisly pictures," Koutris said. "Both sides had equally problematic witnesses and the team had to argue both sides of the issue." The team has one month to prepare for a new case before the finals.
The team went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, beating the University of Arizona and Pepperdine University. They went on to beat the University of Arizona's other team in the quarter-finals, Loyola Law School in the semi-finals and Thomas Jefferson School of Law in the championship round. Read more.
BLSA Moot Court Team Advances to Nationals
The Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team of Lynette Jones and Calvin Lowery performed well at the recent Western Regional Black Law Students Association Conference in Portland, Oregon. The team won the oral argument portion of the competition and advanced to compete in the Nationals, which will be held March 18 to 22 in Irvine.
"I am very proud of Ms. Jones's and Mr. Lowery's oral argument performance," said Professor Tara Walters, who coached the team. "They worked very hard to prepare for the competition, and it really showed during the rounds. Above all, they demonstrated great poise and flexibility in responding to the judges' tough questions and the opposing side's unexpected arguments."
Jones enjoyed observing the courtroom presentation of the other competitors and strategizing with teammate Lowery on methods to poke holes in their arguments. "The benches were hot, which kept us on our toes," she said. "We simply wanted to do our best and represent Southwestern well. By winning the Best Oral Advocacy Award, we did just that."
First Annual Honors Program Members Challenge Winners Announced
Congratulations are extended to the members of the Southwestern Journal of International Law, winners of the First Annual Honors Program Members Challenge. The Challenge is a new initiative designed to help Southwestern reconnect with those alumni who graduated during the past 10 years and participated in Law Review, Law Journal, Moot Court or the Trial Advocacy Honors Program. It also gives alumni the opportunity to support Southwestern’s Annual Fund in an entertaining way - no matter the dollar amount. An impressive 117 alumni and 69 students participated in the Challenge and raised over $4,000 for the Annual Fund. More importantly, 60 percent of the alumni were first-time donors - a significant increase in Southwestern's alumni participation rate.
The winning program was determined by percentage - the group that could attract the largest pool of alumni to donate. Law Journal members successfully persuaded 54 alumni out of 255 and 39 students to donate. To reward their outstanding effort, members have been invited to attend the Los Angeles Clippers game verses the San Antonio Spurs on March 2, when the group will watch from a luxury suite at the Staples Center.
The Institutional Advancement Office would like to extend its appreciation to all the students and alumni who participated and made this first Challenge a success. Program participation results by group were as follows: Southwestern Journal of International Law - 21% Alumni Participation, Moot Court Honors Program - 14% Alumni Participation, Southwestern Law Review - 12% Alumni Participation, and the Trial Advocacy Honors Program - 8% Alumni Participation. Click here for more information on the Honors Program Members Challenge.
Students Bring First-hand Perspectives to Immigration Law Cases in Southwestern's Newest Clinic
Under the direction of Professor Andrea Ramos, Southwestern's Immigration Law Clinic commenced operation this semester with four students - Tracy Bordignon, Franklin Jiron, Andrea Escalante and Carmen Lainez - who are working on 20 cases. Professor Ramos set the groundwork for the clinic during the Fall semester to ensure a full caseload. Each student handles five cases during the semester. Students were assigned cases on January 13 and began logging in clinic hours the next day, representing low-income children and adults in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) (clients under the age of 21), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and U-visa cases.
Southwestern alumnus, Judge Gilbert T. Gembacz '79, presided over immigration court for many years before retiring in June 2008. He strongly supported the establishment of Southwestern's Immigration Law Clinic and provided input as it was being developed. "The lack of competent representation is possibly the biggest issue in immigration law," he said. "There are very good and very diligent attorneys in the legal community who represent persons with immigration problems. There just aren't enough of them." He pointed out, "When you compound the huge number of immigrants needing the assistance of attorneys who know what they are doing with the large number of 'notarios' who prey on the immigrant community, you have the situation of near chaos that is very present in Los Angeles today." Judge Gembacz is also encouraged by the opening of the clinic as he feels "it is incumbent upon a law school or legal institution to be responsive to the needs of the community in which they're located."
All of the clinic students are in their third year at Southwestern and are pleased to have this unique opportunity in their last semester of law school. Three of them are immigrants themselves. "I was born in Central America and came to the U.S. when I was 7," Jiron said. "I can relate to our clients." Read more.
Did You Know? Southwestern Alumnus Instrumental in Ending PGA Discrimination
Did you know that the late Hon. Stanley Mosk '35 was instrumental in ending the discrimination practices of the PGA when he was California Attorney General in 1961? "Uneven Fairways," a documentary produced by Samuel L. Jackson that aired in February on the Golf Channel explored the exclusion of African Americans from the PGA, which had a "Caucasian male" clause in its official rules. The special included a segment about Southwestern alumnus, Hon. Stanley Mosk (also a California Supreme Court Justice), who was California Attorney General when he took on the PGA. He told the PGA that it could not host competitions on public golf courses in California until African Americans could participate. Judge Mosk's actions ultimately led to the eventual removal of the clause from the PGA constitution.
Alumni Q&A with Hon. Cynthia Rayvis '85, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
Q: What was your path to law school?
A: I was an elementary school teacher. I obtained a master's degree in education and thought I was through with school. When my children were three and nine years old, I started looking for something new to try. When I went to college in the mid-sixties, it was unusual to study anything other than education and I really didn't explore anything else. At the time, law school just never occurred to me. That's the generation I came from. But I began thinking about it and exploring my options. I knew that I wanted to go to law school part-time because my youngest was still so young.
Q. What attracted you to the PLEAS program?
I looked at the part-time law programs in Los Angeles and was attracted to two of them, including Southwestern. I was debating which one to attend when I got a call from Southwestern about the PLEAS program in the summer of 1981. The person told me, "We have an experimental program for students to attend part-time, but it would be during the day. No one's ever done this before. Would you be interested?" I immediately agreed to it and I never looked back.
I decided to go to law school part-time, not having any idea what I would do with my degree, or whether I would practice law. I thought that going to law school would be really interesting. I didn't realize how much work it was going to be.
The first day of law school, I met two other people in the program. The staff, including the dean of students at that time, Sandra Cooper, watched over us. They bent over backwards to make our experience wonderful. When there was a required course that started at 9 a.m., we said, "You know, we'd really like to take the class at 10 because we need to drop our kids off, we need to do things, and if you're making this for parents, can you make it so that all of our classes are between 10 and 2?" And they said, "Sure." And next thing you know, there was a Torts class at 10. As the semesters went on, we rearranged our schedules a little bit so that we didn't have to go in every day. The three of us decided that we would go in three days and one of those three days we were there from 10 until 9:30 p.m.; we stayed and took a night class. That worked better for us. And each semester we changed it. But everything was offered to us between 10 and 2. Because it was a new program, we were just treated wonderfully.
At the same time, we had the experience of being in class with other people, the full-time students. Most of them had no clue that we were part-time. I just found it to be a wonderful experience. I have very fond memories of everything - except studying for exams!
What was really nice, I can't stress enough, is that they always listened to our feedback. I go back periodically. There was a reception for all of the PLEAS graduates for the first time five or six years ago, and it was then that I realized just how successful the program has been. There was also a reception recently, and I went back and spoke with some students. It's a terrific program.
Q: What advice would you give parents in law school?
A: I would emphasize that it's still a lot of work. I know there are people who work full-time and go to law school at night and have families, and I don't know how they do it. Those of us who were able to study part-time during the day and not have to work were very fortunate.
I tell prospective continuing students it's more work than you think it's going to be. When it comes time to study for midterms and finals, it's just like it was in college. It's extremely helpful if you have other people who can support you during that time. During my time in the PLEAS program, I was doing a lot of carpooling for my older daughter, and then for my younger daughter as time went on, because it was a four-year program. And I had a book in my car all the time, waiting for me. Your studies are always on your mind. It's a big commitment and people need to know that.
Q: Which were the most important courses and professors in your studies? Did you have any mentors?
A: I loved my criminal law courses; I found them to be fascinating. My professor in almost all of them was Paul Flynn, who later became a judge; he retired from the bench within the last few years. I remember one of my first classes my first semester was Torts with a brand-new, very young professor named Robert Lind, who I know is still there. That was the first class that he taught and he was good. Catherine Carpenter was a huge presence then. I never took a class from her. It just didn't happen and I don't know why. I think it had to do with scheduling. I know her, we talk when we see each other, and I know she's done an amazing amount for Southwestern. So in that way she's definitely been a presence.
Q: What is your fondest law school memory?
A: My favorite
law school memory is being with my friends and having us pull each
other up when things got down. We all had young kids. I was very close
to one classmate in particular: Nancy Lemkin, who passed away two years
ago. We spent every minute together at Southwestern. We never took a
class apart from one another and we studied for finals at each other's
homes. I loved the feeling of learning a whole new aspect of
information that I had never known before. And I learned to think a
different way. In law school, your professors ask questions of you in a
certain way. Gradually you learn to think differently and to analyze
things differently. I think that's been extremely helpful to me.
Q: Did you know that you wanted to go into criminal law before you started law school?
Oh, I didn't even know if I wanted to practice law. I just wanted to
get a law degree and see what I could do with it. After my second year,
I externed with the Public Defender's office and after my third year I
externed with the DA's office. I realized that I liked the
prosecutorial aspect more than the defense aspect. I never considered
going into anything other than criminal law. And again, the only reason
I did something else during those few years after law school was
because it was the only part-time job I could get, though I certainly
enjoyed it. What I enjoyed most those few years was every time I got to
go to court for a summary judgment motion or anything like that. I
loved making court appearances and I realized that's what I wanted to
do. I was amazed because when I started out in law school, I said, "I
certainly never want to go into a courtroom." Now that's where I spend
every day. And I love it.
Q: What suggestions do you have for students interested in criminal law?
Certainly take every criminal law and law procedure class you can take.
Do an externship or clerkship with the DA's office or the public
defender's office. It's great experience. After you take Evidence, I
believe you can be certified in the DA's office to do preliminary
hearings, which is like a little mini-trial. It's wonderful experience.
Observe a trial if you have time. Go observe courtroom proceedings; see
if you like what you see and if you want to do that.
thing I did is I called people whose names I got from friends: both
deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders. I called and I
talked to them. I asked them everything about their jobs. I wanted to
know everything I could. And that's how I made my decision.
Q: Describe how your law career evolved.
A: I started off
as a law clerk working for a sole practitioner who did civil work -
tort litigation, plaintiff tort work, personal injury, medical
malpractice. I did that for four years part-time because I wanted to
wait until my youngest was a little bit older. She was twelve when I
started working full-time. And again, I had the luxury of being able to
do that because my husband was supporting me. So I worked part-time
doing civil work.
During law school, in the summer, I externed
in the D.A.'s office. I knew that's what I wanted to do, but there
weren't part-time jobs. So I waited. My first full-time job as an
attorney was 1990, when I was 41. I worked in the District Attorney's
office for twelve years. At the time, people weren't joining the DA's
office and staying there for their careers, which they are now. When I
applied to be a judge, I think the average age was mid-to-late 40s, so
I was just a little older. I was just about 55 when I became a judge. Read more.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
"W.A.Y." - Who Are You & Why Are You here?
This month - Mark Velez, First-Year Evening Program
Mark Velez says that Southwestern is the best school he has ever attended. And for someone who has earned Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. degrees and spent the past seven years teaching at several universities, that is saying a lot. His educational credentials evoke the image of a professional and perpetual student and professor. Velez is those things, but he is also a veteran law enforcement officer with 20 years of experience. The first-year evening student currently serves as Captain at the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department.
None of this was planned. "When I was in high school I worked in a restaurant. I started working at 14 because I had to," Velez said. "There were always cops coming in. I asked them if they liked what they did, and they told me that it was great, that I should give it a try." So at 18, Velez applied for a non-sworn position as a jailer/dispatcher because he was still too young to carry a gun. Since joining the force, he has served in numerous roles including Police Officer, Field Training Officer, Detective, and Sergeant. "The most rewarding is working the streets," he said. "Not only is helping people great, but it is also exciting. It's always unknown, and that's fun." The most challenging part of his job has been finding and recruiting quality people to be in law enforcement, a job he says requires good moral character, physical fitness, a desire to help people, humility, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.
Although fulfilling, Velez has always supplemented his police work with the pursuit of and or teaching in higher education. But he is not quite sure what motivated him to do it. "I never thought that I'd get a bachelors degree because my family didn't have the money and I didn't think I was smart enough." But he has always believed in what he could accomplish with hard work. And although it takes up much of his time, his wife has supported all of his pursuits, "She is the bedrock of my life," Velez states. Velez earned his Associate's degree from El Camino College and his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Redlands. He completed his Master of Arts in Public Administration at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and in 2006, he earned his Ph.D. in Public Administration from USC, where he was one of seven students in his class accepted from a pool of 300 applicants.
He has parlayed his education into several adjunct professor positions, teaching police-related courses at the junior college level and public administration to graduate students at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Between 2002 and spring 2008, he taught statistics to undergraduate and graduate students at USC. In the future, he thinks it would be fun to teach law. But that is not necessarily why he is here. "I don't have a clue about what kind of law I want to practice. There are two ways to look at it: I can go into criminal law because of my background. Or I'll do something completely different."