Class Notes - Enjoy the new 2018 Entries
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LATEST NEWS ON SOUTHWESTERN ALUMNI
Jordan A. Thomas '95 Featured in New York Times
Congratulations to Jordan A. Thomas '95! He was recently featured in a New York Times piece about his successful journey in building his own top legal practice representing corporate whistle-blowers. This is AMAZING news! We are so proud!
Read more about Jordan's journey here.
Robert C. Brandt '76 Awarded American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Professionalism Award
Congratulations to Robert C. Brandt '76! Robert, a partner at Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt & Klein, LLP, was awarded the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Professionalism Award. This is one of the highest forms of recognition for a Family Law Attorney and is awarded to an AAML Fellow who consistently demonstrates a commitment to the practice of Matrimonial Law in a principled manner that is at all times civil, cooperative and respectful. Way to go, Robert! We are so proud!
Peter Scalisi '79 Wins California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award
A huge CONGRATS to Peter Scalisi ’79 on winning the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for his work on The Colonies Trial, a highly publicized white-collar criminal case. Peter successfully won a Not Guilty verdict after a marathon trial that has lasted nearly a year. He says, "The jury came back Not Guilty of all charges after only 4 hours of deliberations following a 10-month jury trial with 50+ government witnesses… The jurors all clapped when I stood up and said, ‘The Defense Rests’ without calling a single defense witness.”
The CLAY Award is one of the highest honors for attorneys in California, each being recognized and nominated by their peers in the California legal community and selected by the editors of the Daily Journal and the California Lawyer.
Way to go, Peter!
Professor Edward C. Stark '79 selected to "America's Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators"
Congratulations to Professor Edward C. Stark '79 on being selected to "America's Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators" for Southern California in 2018!
Only the top 100 qualifying defense litigators in each state receive this honor each year. Members are nominated by their peers and other elite attorneys in the community or identified through third-party research before passing a rigorous multi-phase screening. This process ensures that those selected are the cream of the crop in their profession who best exhibit excellence and the highest ethical standards. What an accomplishment!
Read more about his award here: http://bit.ly/EdStarkTop100
Samuel Allen Hamood '00 Joins ATI Physical Therapy as Chief Financial Officer & Advent International as Senior Advisor
Huge congratulations to Samuel Allen Hamood '00 on his new position! Hamood will be joining Advent International portfolio company ATI Physical Therapy as Chief Financial Officer, as well as serving as a Senior Advisor to Advent International.
Scott Brandman '92 Promoted to Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie LLP's New York Office
Congratulations to Southwestern alum, Scott Brandman '92, who has been promoted by Baker McKenzie LLP to managing partner of their New York office!
Of his journey as a student at Southwestern to his success today, Scott says “The focused instruction I received at Southwestern allowed me to acquire the practical legal skills that continue to serve me well today. My experience on the Tax Moot Court team fostered an interest in taxation and controversy that has stayed with me throughout my career.”
We wish you the best of luck with your new position!
Read more about his promotion here: http://bit.ly/2mfupM3
Brian Virag '99 Wins $3.5M Case Against Park La Brea
Way to go Brian Virag '99! Brian has just won a huge $3.5 million case against Park La Brea, one of the largest apartment complexes in California! Read more about his amazing win here: http://bit.ly/BedBugAtty
Gloria Hernandez '16, Former LAPD Cadet Chief, Hosts Bar Pass Swearing-In Ceremony with Active LAPD Cadets
How great is it that Southwestern alum, Gloria Hernandez '16, a former LAPD Cadet Chief, wanted to share her Bar Pass swearing-in ceremony with active LAPD cadets? Congratulations on passing the bar and keep up the good work in continuing to inspire others!
Mark Velez '12 Promoted to Police Chief of Palos Verdes Estates
Well done Mark Velez '12 for your recent promotion to Police Chief of Palos Verdes Estates! What an amazing achievement and recognition of your work on the police force! We wish you the best of luck with your new position! Read more about his promotion here: http://bit.ly/chiefvelez
Les Reardanz '90 Called to Active Duty & Serving 8 Month Deployment in Afghanistan
Les Reardanz '90, the Port of Everett CEO and a captain in the Navy Reserves, has been called to active duty and will be serving an eight-month deployment in Afghanistan. To Les, we thank you sincerely for your service to our country and wish you a safe and speedy return home! Read more his deployment here: http://bit.ly/LesGoNavy
James Stokes '95 Named Sebastian City Attorney
Congratulations to SCALE alum, James Stokes '95, who was recently named Sebastian City Attorney!
Of his journey from Southwestern to his newest position, he says, "I have found the education I received in the SCALE program as invaluable in my practice of law. I not only learned the vast substance of law, but the real-world way to practice law...my supervising attorneys were always amazed at the practical knowledge that I had in both litigation and transactions work."
Read more about his new position here: http://bit.ly/stokescity
Kathy Khommarath '12 Featured on KPCC
Southwestern's 2017 Clinic Alumnus of the Year, Kathy Khommarath '12, was on KPCC recently to talk about her work at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in helping young immigrants renew their DACA. Keep up the good work Kathy! You are truly making a difference in our community!
Find her on KPCC here: http://bit.ly/kathyonkpcc
Alexi Ashe Meyers '11 Joins Human Rights First Board of Directors
What terrific news! SCALE alumna, Alexi Ashe Meyers '11, has joined the Human Rights First Board of Directors! To Alexi, congratulations on your new position! We are certain that you will be an even greater force for positive change and advocacy!
Read more about her new position here: http://bit.ly/DirectorAlexi
Marina Samson '16 Joins Ivie McNeill & Wyatt Firm
Congratulations to Marina Samson '16 on joining the Ivie McNeill & Wyatt Firm! Marina's practice will focus on civil litigation and labor and employment. We wish you the best, Marina! Read more about her new post here: http://bit.ly/marinajoinsfirm
Sarkis Babachanian '93 and Armine Bazikyan '10 Sworn In as Board Members of the Glendale Bar Association
Congratulations to Sarkis Jacob Babachanian '93 on being sworn in as the 70th President of the Glendale Bar Association and to Armine Bazikyan '10 on being sworn in as Secretary! What an honor to have two Bisons on the board of the Glendale Bar Association! We are positive that you both will do amazing things with your new posts and we wish you the best of luck!
Jason Barth '16 Elected as Marshal of the International Senate for Delta Theta Phi
Way to go, Jason Barth '16! Jason was elected as Marshal of the International Senate for Delta Theta Phi, an international law fraternity. As Marshal, Jason will be maintaining relations with Delta Theta Phi Affinity partnerships, establishing new partnerships, and providing support to Student Senates across the nation. Go Jason!
Michael A. Gold '79 Named a Top 20 Cyber-Artificial Intelligence Lawyer in CA by Daily Journal
Congratulations to Michael A. Gold '79 for being named as one of the “Top 20 Cyber–Artificial Intelligence Lawyers” in California by the Daily Journal! Michael is currently Partner and Co-Chair of the Cybersecurity & Privacy Group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. Way to go, Michael!
Read more here: http://bit.ly/cybergold
Lauren Vilchik '93 Receives Teaching Excellence Award at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Congratulations to Lauren Vilchik '93 for receiving the Teaching Excellence Award at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Lauren currently serves as co-chair of the Producing Department and Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies School of Filmmaking. Here's to you, Lauren! Keep on inspiring students!
Read more here: http://bit.ly/LaurenUNCSA
Karen A. Henry '03 Featured in Los Angeles County Bar Association Member Benefit Highlight
The Los Angeles County Bar Association recently highlighted Karen A. Henry '03 on their Member Benefit Spotlight! Karen was recognized as a Bar Leader in honor of Black History Month. Congratulations to Karen!
Check out their feature on Karen here: http://bit.ly/2karenhenry
Rachel Gezerseh '07 Honored as the Alumni Resource Network Member of the Year
Huge congrats to Rachel Gezerseh '07 who was honored as the Alumni Resource Network Member of the Year at the 15th Annual Alumni Resource Network Cocktail Reception.
John Heuer '93 Wins Outstanding Community Service Award at the 2018 Charlotte Business Journal Corporate Counsel Awards
Congratulations to John Heuer '93 for winning the Outstanding Community Service Award at the 2018 Charlotte Business Journal Corporate Counsel Awards! John is Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Balfour Beatty US.
Read more: http://bit.ly/heuerwins
Hildegarde Aguinaldo '08 Appointed to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors
Congratulations to Hildegarde Aguinaldo '08 for her recent appointment to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors! She was sworn in by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. We wish you the best of luck with your new position, Hildegarde!
Read more about her new post here: http://bit.ly/HAguinaldo
Judge Joel Lofton '03 Honored as Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by the Black Law Students Association
Thank you to all who came to the Black Law Students Association's Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award Reception! Huge congratulations to the man of the hour, Judge Joel Lofton '03, for being named Outstanding Alumnus of the Year!
Rachel Weise '14 Joins Sklar Kirsh Law Firm
Congratulations to Rachel Weise '14 on joining the Sklar Kirsh law firm as an Associate in their Entertainment and Media Practice Group! We wish you all the best, Rachel!
Read more here: http://bit.ly/SheIsWeise
Annie Wang '05 Ranked 2nd in the "Top 10 Law Firms Most Used in Entertainment" list by Corporate Counsel
Congratulations to Annie Wang '05! Annie is the founder and principal attorney of her firm, Wang Law Corporation. Her firm was ranked 2nd in the "Top 10 Law Firms Most Used in Entertainment" list by Corporate Counsel. That's fantastic news!
See the whole list here: http://bit.ly/AnnieTop10
Brendan Joy '07 Joins Fisher Phillips as Of Counsel in its LA Office
Congratulations to Brendan Joy '07 on joining the labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips as Of Counsel in its Los Angeles office! Brendan will be defending employers in all types of employment matters. We are confident that you will excel in your new firm, and we wish you all the best, Brendan!
Brian Panish '80 Wins $53.7M Verdict
Congratulations to Brian Panish '80 on his newest victory! He and his firm, Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, along with the Parris Law Firm team obtained a HUGE $53.7M verdict for his clients, two Southern California brothers who were severely injured in a head-on collision with a CRST big rig. Read more about the case and verdict here: http://bit.ly/Panish
Kymberley Peck '10 Named a "Rising Star" Super Lawyer
Congratulations to Kymberley Peck '10 on being named a "Rising Star" Super Lawyer! Kymberley, who is an associate at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP, has been recognized as a "Rising Star" for three consecutive years. Way to go, Kymberley! Here's to upholding exceptional standards of practice in the legal field!
Read more here: http://bit.ly/SuperPeck
Adam D.H. Grant '90 Completes Ultraman Florida 2018
Way to go Adam D.H. Grant ’90! Adam, a shareholder of Alpert, Barr & Grant and a top-rated Super Lawyer since 2015, recently completed the Ultraman Florida 2018, an invitation-only 3-day competition that challenges athletes to complete a 6.2-mile swim, 263-mile bike ride, and 52.4-mile double marathon run. Adam came in 12th overall for the swim portion of the competition and qualified for the Ultraman Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
Congratulations, Adam! Keep that Bison spirit strong! We’re rooting for you!
Brian Panish '80 Holds Press Conference at Southwestern
We were behind the scenes at Brian Panish '80's press conference Southwestern. The California Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court decision and allowed his client's lawsuit to move forward. Panish's client, Katherine Rosen, was stabbed by a classmate in 2009 during a chemistry class at UCLA. In the lawsuit against the University of California regents and several UCLA employees, Rosen said school officials failed to warn students that her attacker, Damon Thompson, was potentially violent despite months of reports of his paranoid and threatening behavior. Today, the state Supreme Court ruled that colleges in California have a duty to protect students from foreseeable acts of violence in the classroom and in "curricular activities." What a feat, Brian Panish '80!
Judge Bruce Brodie '78 Featured in The Philadelphia Tribune
We love when our alums are recognized for the wonderful work they do! The Honorable Bruce Brodie ‘78 was recently featured in The Philadelphia Tribune for his contributions to the African American legal community. For the last 27 years, the Hon. Bruce Brodie, currently an LA County Superior Court judge, has provided free bar prep tutoring to more than 800 African American law school grads.
As he told the Tribune, “It’s very important to increase the number of African Americans that are practicing law because the community needs competent Black attorneys...In California, you have all these Black athletes, actors, movie stars and rappers. They should have the option of having Black lawyers who are entertainment lawyers that can represent them.”
Read more about Judge Brodie’s work here: http://bit.ly/GoodGuyBrodie
Sarah Starkey '07 Named One of Utah Business Magazine's 30 Women to Watch for 2018
A huge CONGRATS to Sarah Starkey '07 on being named as one of Utah Business Magazine’s 30 Women to Watch for 2018. The award celebrates and honors Utah's most successful and influential women as selected by their peers. What an incredible achievement! Sarah is currently vice president and general counsel for Larry H. Miller Dealerships and is also president of the Women Lawyers of Utah, executive committee chair for the Gail Miller Women’s Leadership Group, and serves on the advisory board for the University of Utah College of Social and Behavioral Science. Way to go, Sarah!
Leah Cohen-Mays '09 Recognized by Children's Law Center in Newsletter
Leah Cohen-Mays '09 is an attorney at the Children's Law Center (CLC) and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at Southwestern! A recent CLC newsletter recognized Professor Cohen-Mays for her commitment to advocacy. Well deserved!
Check out her feature here: http://bit.ly/LeahCohenMays
Christopher Chatham '05, Daniel Petrocelli '80, and Kate Walker '06 Featured on Variety's List of Influential Entertainment Attorneys
Congratulations to Christopher Chatham '05, Daniel Petrocelli '80, and Kate Walker '06 on being featured on Variety's list of Influential Entertainment Attorneys! We are proud to have our alums included on this prestigious list.
Read more about our alums on the Variety list here: http://bit.ly/SWVariety
James Perero '08 Named a California Rising Star Super Lawyer
James Perero ’08 is currently an attorney at Myers Widders Gibson Jones & Feingold LLP. Mr. Perero was recently selected to the California Rising Stars list for the second year in a row as a top-rated general litigation attorney.
He says, "Southwestern’s rigorous curriculum and Moot Court program taught me how to perform under pressure and were great preparation for my work as a litigator. Southwestern opened the door to a rewarding practice serving businesses, community associations, and families along California’s Central Coast."
Gerard V. Kassabian '01 Elected Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Armenian Bar Association
Gerard V. Kassabian ’01 was recently elected Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Armenian Bar Association.
After graduating from Southwestern, Mr. Kassabian went on to obtain his Master of Laws in Estate Planning (LL.M) from the University of Miami Law School. He currently has his own established private practice in Beverly Hills, CA, specializing in estate planning, family law, and real estate. He is also a Board Member of the Golden State Bank, House of Lebanon, West Hollywood Sheriff’s Booster Club, and Southwestern’s Alumni Board.
He says, “Thanks to the professors at Southwestern who offered real-world legal education, I was prepared to join the legal workforce with everything I needed to begin my career. Thank you, Southwestern!”
Daniel Selarz '12 Recognized by The National Trial Lawyers Association as a 2018 Top 40 Under 40 Attorney
Daniel Selarz ’12 is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Southwestern and the founding attorney of Selarz Law Corp., which specializes in personal injury litigation.
Mr. Selarz has been recognized by The National Trial Lawyers Association as a 2018 Top 40 Under 40 Attorney. His firm was recently awarded the sixth largest settlement in California for 2017, resulting from a recent $9.5M settlement.
While in law school, Mr. Selarz was as a member of the Southwestern Law Review and Trial Advocacy Honors Program. He says, “There is no comparison to the incredible network of Southwestern alumni throughout Los Angeles and all of southern California. Nearly all our attorneys and externs are current, or former, Southwestern students.”
Judge Scott Gordon '85 Featured in Los Angeles Daily Journal Profile
Southwestern Adjunct Professor and alum, the Hon. Scott Gordon '85, was recently featured in a Los Angeles Daily Journal profile. Fun fact: his passion for justice is influenced by his love for comic books!
Read more about his Daily Journal profile here: http://bit.ly/Gordan85
Kristen Schwarz '11 Named to the Board of Directors for Leadership Pasadena
Kristen Schwarz ’11 is currently an attorney at DBS Law Group. Ms. Schwarz was named to the Board of Directors for Leadership Pasadena, a hands-on, community leadership program.
Ms. Schwarz has been recognized as one of THE Magazine’s Top Women Volunteers in 2011 and was named as a Top Attorney by The Pasadena Magazine for 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2018, she was honored by Lawyers of Distinction for excellence in probate law.
She says, “I was a part of Street Law and the Children's Rights clinics at Southwestern. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for the tools and "real life" experience that I received as part of the clinical programs. The thoughtful instruction and practical experience gave me the confidence to take initiative early in my practice and continue to be part of the foundation as I grow in my career. It is the one piece of advice that I give to anyone considering or in law school -- to be part of a clinical program (and of course, at Southwestern!).”
Kristina Pentek '07 Named Director of Global Procurement for Associated Press
Kristina Pentek ’07 was recently named the Director of Global Procurement for the Associated Press.
Ms. Pentek graduated from Southwestern with a focus on IP and Entertainment Law. While a student, she was the Special Projects Editor for Law Review and participated in externships with Sony Pictures and Body Glove. Prior to joining the Associated Press, Ms. Pentek took a position with Conde Nast Publications, where she was responsible for the negotiation of editorial related contracts for magazines such as Vanity Fair, Bon Appetit, Glamour, Self, The New Yorker, W, Wired and Conde Nast Traveler.
She says, “I came to Southwestern straight out of college without knowing a single person in LA. I had the double challenge of adjusting to law school and finding my way in an entirely new city all at once. Initially, it was hard to rise to the educational challenge but during the first year, I made friendships that will last a lifetime. The rigors of the academics countered with the opportunities for externships and real-world experience made me a more much well-rounded lawyer and prepared me for the positions I would eventually hold.”
Lucy Varpetian '96 Named Vice Chair of the Armenian Bar Association
Lucy Varpetian ’96 is currently the Principal Assistant City Attorney in the Glendale City Attorney’s Office – Transactional Section. Ms. Varpetian was named as the Vice Chair of the Armenian Bar Association.
Prior to joining the City of Glendale, Ms. Varpetian was an associate at Meserve, Mumper and Hughes, LLP, and the Executive Director of the Armenian Bar Association. Ms. Varpetian serves on the Boards of the Glendale YMCA and the Armenian General Benevolent Union Western District Committee. She is Co-Chair of the Armenian Bar Association’s Pro Bono and Judicial Evaluation Committee and LACBA’s Judicial Election Evaluation Committee. Ms. Varpetian has served as Trustee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Chairperson of the Glendale Bar Association, and a Board Member of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council.
Jamie Ball '04 Named Director of Equal Opportunity, Access and Title IX Coordination of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Jamie Ball '04 was recently named the Director of Equal Opportunity, Access and Title IX Coordination of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE).
Prior to joining SIUE, Ms. Ball was the first institutional compliance officer/Title IX coordinator at Truman State University. She has also previously served as a special investigator II with the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Professional Standards Division Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Unit and was an associate attorney at Tropio & Moralan.
Heidy Vaquerano '08 Joins Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP
Congratulations to Heidy Vaquerano ’08 as she joins Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP, a well-respected mid-sized firm with offices in California and Nevada. She has over 16 years of experience in entertainment law and intellectual property matters. She is also the managing director of Girls in Tech LA, a global non-profit focused on the engagement, education, and empowerment of women in technology.
She says, "Southwestern equipped me with the skills to navigate the Entertainment Industry through its targeted curriculum and adjunct professors who were top industry professionals.”
Wendy DeWeese '93 Sworn In as a District Family Court Judge of the Third Circuit in Hawaii
Wendy DeWeese ’93 was just sworn in as a District Family Court Judge of the Third Circuit in Hawaii. Prior to becoming a judge, the Hon. DeWeese was a Deputy Public Defender in Kealakekua and a law clerk for the Hon. Ronald Ibarra (ret.), who at the time was the Chief Administrative Judge of Hawaii.
She says, “The SCALE Program at Southwestern prepared me to deal with real-life legal scenarios, taught me to think outside the box, and encouraged practical skills, all of which have served me well as a family law and criminal defense trial lawyer over the last 25 years. And ultimately, it’s these very attributes that allowed me to achieve success in my profession leading to my recent appointment to the bench.”
Read more about her swearing-in here: http://bit.ly/HonDeWeese
Heather Sweatman '16 joins the Ventura County District Attorney's Office
Southwestern congratulates Heather Sweatman '16 as she joins the Ventura County District Attorney's Office as a post-bar Law Clerk.
To read more, click here.
Lee Lipscomb '74 honored at Southeastern Oklahoma State University Homecoming
Southwestern congratulates Lee Lipscomb '74 for his recent recognition as Distinguished Alumni at Southeastern Oklahoma State University's 2016 Homecoming celebrations.
Eleven recent Southwestern Graduates Selected for ABOTA Fellowship
Southwestern congratulates eleven of its recent '16 graduates selected for the American Board of Trial Advocates' (ABOTA)
prestigious three month Fellowship program. Graduates Jasmina Aragon, Tonya Barseghian, Katherine (Katy) Bekken, Anny Edinchikyan,
Timothy Gauthier, Alex Giraldo, Shawn Halbert, Celline Hoogi, Nicole Ortiz, Sara Rodriguez and Katherine (Katie) Melik-Stepanyan will
spend three months working for a defense firm, a plaintiffs firm and a Superior Court Judge.
To read more, click here.
Ryan Miller '13 opens personal injury firm in Orange County
Southwestern congratulates Ryan Miller '13 as he opens a new Law Firm "The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C." a personal injury firm in Orange
To read more, click here.
Michael K. Soong '86 appointed as District Court Judge in Hawaii
Southwestern congratulates Michael K. Soong '86 for his recent appointment to the District Court of the 5th Circuit in the Hawaiian Island
To read more, click here.
Greg Wolff '77 is now the Head of Chamber for Justice Leondra Kruger and was recently appointed to the State Bar Committee on Appellate Courts
Southwestern congratulates Greg Wolff '77 for his new appointment to the State Bar Committee on Appellate Courts and position as Head
of Chambers for Justice Leondra Kruger of the Supreme Court of California.
Anthony Nizetich '52 recently passed away at the age of 93 in San Pedro, California
Anthony Nizetich '52 attorney and lead businessman in the fishing and canning industry, passed away at the age of 93.
To read more, click here.
Scott Warren '87 leads Squire Patton Boggs' cybersecurity team in Asia
Southwestern congratulates Scott Warren '87 for his new position as lead Partner in Squire Patton Boggs' cybersecurity team in Tokyo.
To read more, click here.
Allison Eckstrom '01 joins Bryan Cave as Partner in the Labor & Employment Group
Southwestern congratulates Allison Eckstrom '01 for joining the international law firm, Bryan Cave LLP, as a Partner in the Labor &
Jordan A. Thomas '95 OpEd: "Policing the Banks Is an Inside Job," featured in NYTimes.com
Southwestern congratulates Jordan A. Thomas '95 for the recent publication of his OpEd: "Policing the Banks Is an Inside Job" in
To read more, click here.