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Western State At A Glance
Learn more about our graduates, their careers and how they are helping to shape the future.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen (Class of 1988 | Hall of Fame | Dean's Counselor) presented his annual “Hit the Floor Running” at Western State on January 12. Part of a CLE program organized by Pam Davidson, Professor Pedersen’s program provided guidance for young attorneys on topics such as problem identification and problem solving, the written and spoken word, time management, professional conduct and ethics, and business development. Professor Pedersen also presented Surviving and Thriving in the Practice of Law at the Orange County Bar Association’s Last Dash MCLE event, held at Chapman Law School the same day. Much of the content from both presentations came from the curriculum of Professor Pedersen's Law Practice Management and Technology course co-taught with Adjunct Professor Carolyn Dillinger.
Congratulations to Western State alumnus Cheryl C. Murphy (Class of 1997) on her appointment to a judgeship in the Riverside Superior Court!
Congratulations to Western State alumnus Eric A. Keen (Class of 1995) on his appointment to a judgeship in the Riverside County Superior Court!
James Otto Heiting (Class of 1975 | Hall of Fame | Dean’s Counselor) just concluded service of two years as a Bench-Bar Coalition Executive Committee member-at-large for the Southern Region of California. The Bench-Bar members also unanimously ratified the nominating committee’s recommendation of Mr. Heiting to serve as the next Southern Region co-chair for a two year term.
First appointed to the bench in 2005 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Judge Larsh (Class of 1986) has served as Supervising Judge at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, the Justice Center in Westminster, and for the Domestic Violence Courts.
Caren H. Seenauth (Western state Class of 2014) has accepted a position as Corporate Counsel at Best Buy. Caren will be returning to the very first company to hire her as college grad.
This Spring, Kevin Calcagnie (Western State Class of 1982 | Hall of Fame) and partner Cynthia Garver (Western State Class of 1999) were co-recipients of the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for 2018.
Jeff Witjas (Western State class of 1979) Senior Vice President, Talent, Agency of the Performing Arts (APA) delivered the Commencement Address to the Western State College of Law graduating class of 2018. Jeff Witjas was born in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in Political Science and receiving a minor in Philosophy. While at BGSU, he was the first President of the Undergraduate Alumni Association, a member of the tennis team, Key King, and Vice-President of the Student Body.
Kevin Calcagnie (Western State Class of 1982 | Hall of Fame) was recently named 2018 Product Liability Litigation “Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year” in Orange County by Best Lawyers®.
On the 2nd anniversary of our move to our new building in Irvine, Western State College of Law hosted its first Alumni Network event of 2018, on campus. Showcasing our new building and celebrating the ubiquity of our Alumni Judiciary, the Judges' Night Mixer attracted a diverse assembly from throughout the legal community. Remarked Dean Allen K. Easley- "...and at the top of the list, with more of its graduates sitting on the OC bench today than any other law school anywhere - Western State - 20 grads! but as proud as we are about the accomplishments of our alumni who serve on the bench, tonight is about showing our appreciation for all the judges who work tirelessly to make a difference - whose independence is too often these days threatened by those who do not appreciate the value of an independent judiciary."
Michael Jeandron (Western State Class of 2013) was just named to The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40.
On January 23, Professor Kevin Mohr and Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen (Class of 1988 | Hall of Fame | Dean's Counselor) joined with Western State alumna and former adjunct professor, Marla Merhab Robinson (Class of 1987 | Dean's Counselor), to present a legal education program at the Orange County Bar Association offices on the Practical and Ethical Issues of Both the Unanticipated and Planned Closures of a Law Practice. The program was completely sold out, reflecting the importance of the topics addressed to a profession confronting the aging and retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. The program has been recorded so that lawyers unable to attend in-person can view and make use of the important guidance provided.
Andrew Struve (Western State Class of 1998, Hall of Fame, Dean’s Counselor), with litigation partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, Adrianne Marshack, Esq., recently co-authored, “Far From ‘Concrete’ - How the Ninth Circuit May Be Making it Easier for Consumer Class Actions to Stay in Federal Courts.”
The Western State community would like to congratulate Orange County Trial Lawyers Association Top Gun Award winners, Richard E. Donahoo (Class of 1996) and Brian J. McCormack (Class of 1993 | Hall of Fame).
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen (Western State Class of 1988 | Hall of Fame | Dean's Counselor) spoke at the “Jump-Start Your Law Practice” conference, a three-day law practice management forum in Indianapolis, Indiana, attended by solo and small firm practitioners from all over the country, on November 18-20. Professor Pedersen’s presentation was entitled “Law Office Employee Hiring, Firing and Management.” He also participated in two panel discussions, entitled “Money, Fees and Pricing (Making Your Money Work for You),” and “Time Management and Proper Delegation.” Most of Professor Pedersen’s content came directly from his Law Practice Management and Technology class taught at Western State.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen (Western State Class of 1988 | Hall of Fame | Dean's Counselor) spoke to the Los Angeles County Bar Association Intellectual Property Section on the topic, “Ethical Issues Presented by the Cyber-Security Threat to the Small Firm or Solo Practitioner,” on October 19. The program discussed the attorney’s duties of competence and confidentiality as they relate to the unique risks that arise by the use of technology in the law office, followed by practical tips to avoid or minimize those risks.
Christopher Montes de Oca (Western State Class of 2006 | Dean’s Counselor) has been selected by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) as the 2017 Rising Star Trial Attorney of the Year. He will be honored at CAALA’s 69th Annual Installation & Awards dinner on January 13, 2018.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen participated in a seminar entitled “Mock Depositions: Don’t Make a Mockery of Yourself,” on September 12. At this Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division program, Professor Pedersen conducted a demonstration deposition and then participated in a panel discussing deposition fundamentals.
Cynthia Hackler Flynn (Western State Class of 2010) has been selected by Super Lawyers as one of their 2017 Southern California Rising Stars, an honor reserved for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice. Only 2.5% of attorneys in Southern California receive this distinction.
Christopher Montes de Oca (Class of 2006 | Dean's Counselor) was co-counsel on a recent case where he recovered a $10,778,626 verdict for his client who was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident.
On April 22, Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen participated as a panelist at a workshop at UCLA Law School entitled “The Nuts and Bolts of Opening and Maintaining a Law Office.” Professor Pedersen spoke about a variety of subjects including the decision to open a firm, impediments to expect in the process, business development, and maintaining work-life balance when running a law practice.
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our friend, teacher, classmate, and colleague, Douglas W. Schroeder, Western State Class of 1988. Doug has been a valued member of our family, beloved by colleagues and students alike for his warmth, dedication to the teaching craft, and devotion to his students. A Dean's Counselor and a member of the alumni Hall of Fame, Doug will be remembered as a great friend to the school. We know this will be very hard news for the many of you who, like us, counted Doug as a friend.
Kevin Calcagnie (Western State Class of 1982 | Hall of Fame | Dean’s Counselor) was just named by Best Lawyer as 2017 Lawyer of the Year for Orange County in Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen has again been named a Southern California Super Lawyer in the 2017 edition of Super Lawyers Magazine by Thomson Reuters. This distinction is conferred on select attorneys based on a process involving peer nomination, independent research and evaluation by the publisher, with about 5% of attorneys in the state being named to the list. Professor Pedersen also has been named as one of the 2017 “Best Employment Attorneys in Orange County” by the publishers of Orange Coast Magazine, for the fourth year in a row.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen (Western State Class of 1988 | Hall of Fame | Dean’s Counselor) at Western State College of Law has just been selected as this year's recipient of the State Bar Solo and Small Firm Section's Attorney of the Year award.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend, teacher, classmate, and colleague, Professor Stephen Chavez. Professor Chavez graduated from Western State summa cum laude in 1998. He was the class valedictorian and gave the graduation address. He returned to Western State in 2010 as a professor. As Director of the Civil and Judicial Externship Program and Professor of Legal Writing and Research, he touched the lives of many students and had a significant impact on their legal careers. He was an outstanding teacher and colleague and we will miss him very much.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen presented at the State Bar offices in Los Angeles on May 22 on the topic of Making Good Client Choices. He was asked to present as part of the California Young Lawyers Division Annual Practical Skills Training Symposium, a two-day training program for young lawyers. The presentation included a series of video clips and discussion focused on heading off practice problems by identifying potential client issues in the intake process.
Alumnus Betty Boyd (Class of 2007) was featured in the American Bar Associations online publication, Business Law Today, in the Member Spotlight section. Business Law Today examines substantive and procedural issues relating to corporation, banking, business law and practice-oriented topics. It also highlights recent and important case law from state and federal courts as well as important studies and regulations. It is a publication of the American Bar Association Section of Business Law.
Adjunct Professor William D. Shapiro (Class of 1978 | Hall of Fame | Dean’s Counselor) recently received the 2015 CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, by many accounts the highest honor a California trial lawyer can receive. The California Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates awards it annually to the attorney who most exhibits excellence in advocacy, a distinguished career, and a reputation for civility, ethics, and fair play. William Shapiro currently teaches Civil Trial Practice at Western State.
Jeff Brockmeier (‘13) was recently sworn in to the California Army National Guard.
Adjunct Professor Neil Pedersen has published an article entitled "Let Technology Work For You, Not Against You" in the September-October edition of the State Bar of California Law Practice Management and Technology Section's E-News. This article is sixth in a series of articles on time management for attorneys. Professor Pedersen teaches Law Practice Management and Technology at Western State which includes content on time management techniques.
Adjunct professor Neil Pedersen (Class of 1998, Hall of Fame Member) has been named one of Orange County’s Top Attorneys in the area of Employment Law by the Orange County Register’s OC Metro Magazine. Professor Pedersen teaches Employment Law and Law Practice Management and Technology. This is the second consecutive year that Professor Pedersen has appeared on this exclusive list.
The Western State Community congratulates Solange Ritchie (Class of 1994, Hall of Fame 2013), who has been selected by the OCBA Nominating Committee to run for OCBA Secretary the 2015-2016 term. Additionally, the State Bar’s Solo and Small Firm section will award Ritchie the 2014 Myer J. Sankary Attorney of the Year Award. The Section presents the Award each year to a lawyer who has shown dedication to public service, and demonstrated leadership to the legal community. The award will be presented on Friday evening, 9/12/2014, at the Section’s reception at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, the site of this year’s State Bar Annual Meeting.
The Western State community congratulates Nancy E. Zeltzer (Class of 1977 and Hall of Fame inductee), who has just been appointed Judge of the Orange County Superior Court by Governor Brown.
Kudos to Hon. Sherri Honer (Class of 1996) on her appointment as Judge for the Orange County Superior Court by Governor Brown. She joins over 100 active judicial officers in California who are Western State graduates.
Jeff Witjas, Senior VP, Talent, at APA Talent and Literary Agency, spoke at Western State's Entertainment & Sports Law Society on Friday, October 4. Graduate of the Class of 1979, Mr Witjas characterizes his role as a talent agent as "one of the most exciting jobs anyone can have" and credits his law background for giving him "the balance and the ability to be reasonable and understanding" required for his success.
The Western State community congratulates Diane Karpman, class of 1974, Principal of Karpman and Associates, who was recently installed as the 82nd President of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.