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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.
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.
On October 13, Professor Jennifer Koh spoke on a panel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Rocky Mountain Conference on Crimmigration in Denver, Colorado at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The panel focused on legal strategies to defend against expedited removal and reinstatement of removal, two forms of removal used by the Department of Homeland Security to deport immigrants without providing immigration court hearings.
On September 28, Professor Kevin Mohr participated in a three-hour panel presentation on Recent Developments in Legal Ethics, Legal Malpractice and Risk Management, sponsored by the Orange County Bar Association. Professor Mohr is former Chair of the State Bar of California’s Ethics Committee and currently serves as a member of the State Bar’s Special Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Professor Jennifer Koh has published, “Anticipating Expansion, Committing to Resistance: Removal in the Shadows of Immigration Court under Trump,” in the Ohio Northern Law Review, 43 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 459 (2017). This invited symposium essay discusses the early indications of the Trump Administration’s plans to expand what Professor Koh has called the “shadows” of immigration court, referring to mechanisms in which the government deports people with little to no involvement from immigration courts and judges.
Western State students Steven Alvarado and Melissa Padilla, coached by Adjunct Professor Paul Smith, won first place in the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition, edging out 39 other teams from the U.S. and Canada.
On September 19, Professors Jennifer Koh and Sabrina Rivera, and Western State student Nathalie Cedeno, were recognized by the Santa Ana City Council for their efforts – along with a coalition of other attorneys and advocates – to support the City’s efforts to establish an Immigration Legal Defense Fund. Earlier this year, the Santa Ana City Council allocated $65,000 towards the creation of a legal defense fund that will support efforts to provide legal services to Santa Ana residents facing deportation, the first of its kind in Orange County. The recognition was presented at the city council meeting by Councilmember Vincent Sarmiento.
The Honorable Maria D. Hernandez (Western State Class of 1992 | Hall of Fame) recently received the 42nd Orange County Women Lawyers Association Gala Judge of the Year award on September 14, 2017. Judge Hernandez currently teaches Juvenile Law at Western State. *Photo courtesy of Orange County Women Lawyers Association.
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.
Immigration Clinic Staff Attorney Sabrina Rivera recently presented at the Hispanic National Bar Association’s (HNBA) Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, attended by more than 700 attorneys and legal professionals. She served as a panelist in a seminar entitled, “Stand Up, Fight Back! Advocating for Vulnerable Immigrant Populations Through Community Lawyering Under the Trump Administration,” which addressed the current administration’s executive orders and immigration enforcement priorities, community lawyering principles, and advocacy tactics for vulnerable immigrant populations. HNBA is the largest national association of Latino legal professionals, comprised of lawyers, law professors, students, legal professionals, state and federal judges, legislators, and bar affiliates operating across the country.
Immigration Clinic Staff Attorney Sabrina Rivera delivered the keynote address for California State University Dominguez Hills’ Fourth Annual Freshman Convocation on Friday, August 25 to over 1300 incoming college students, addressing the importance of strategically navigating their academic careers and involvement in social justice careers. Other guest speakers included CSU Dominguez Hills President Willie J. Hagan, deans, administrators, faculty and alumni.
On Sunday August 27, 2017, Professor Jennifer Koh delivered the keynote address for Women For: Orange County’s annual Suffrage Day Luncheon, which honors Orange County individuals who embody the spirit and characteristics of those who have struggled courageously for women’s suffrage and other Human Rights. The title of her speech was, “Re-imagining Political Activism in Orange County.” This year’s honorees were Peggy Thompson, Felicity Figueroa, Martha Milichek, and Ana Gonzalez.
Professors Jennifer Koh and Sabrina Rivera recently filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Amicus Committee in Matter of S-C-, a case pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals.
In June 2017, the Clinic released, “Protecting and Planning for Children: A Family Resource Guide for Orange County, CA Families at Risk of Deportation and Detention.”
Professor Robert Molko was a panelist at the California State Bar’s Law Enforcement Use of Force & Liability Conference at the USC Gould School of Law on June 2, 2017. His panel addressed the criminal and civil liability of officers for the use of excessive force and the most recent 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the subject, including discussions of qualified immunity and the recent rejection of the Ninth Circuit’s provocation rule.
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 4, 2017, Alfonso Maldonado (’17) and Cristel Martinez (’17) became the first pair of Western State College of Law students to argue before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as students participating in the WSCL Immigration Clinic’s Ninth Circuit Project. Representing noncitizen Juan Beltran in his petition before the federal appeals court in Beltran v. Sessions, No. 16-70937, Alfonso and Cristel had researched and written Mr. Beltran’s opening brief in the fall, followed by a reply brief in the spring. They argued that their client’s waiver of his right to appeal an immigration judge’s order of removal against him was not considered and intelligent because the immigration judge had failed to properly advise Mr. Beltran of his eligibility for certain forms of relief from removal, and had also argued that the federal regulation addressing the finality of his order of removal was ultra vires of the federal immigration statute.
Western State College of Law student Gabrielle Gilberston has published an op-ed entitled, “How Law School Changed My Views on Immigration,” in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, a regional newspaper based in her hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. In the op-ed, she describes how her work representing a client through the WSCL Immigration Clinic challenged her views on immigration. Writes Gilberston, “Although I wasn’t passionate about immigration [at the beginning of the semester], the more I learned about my client’s life, the more I began feeling passionately about the injustices my client faced in immigration detention.”
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.
Professor Eunice Park published “The Elephant in the Room: What is a ‘Nonroutine’ Border Search, Anyway? Digital Device Searches Post-Riley” in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 44:3 Hastings Const. L.Q. 277 (2017). The article proposes an approach that obviates distinguishing between routine and nonroutine electronic device border searches, and rethinks the applicability in the digital era of notions of ingress versus egress, and imminent versus ongoing crime, in balancing the tension between law enforcement interests and individual privacy rights.
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.
On March 24, Professor Jennifer Koh spoke at Ohio Northern Law School at the Ohio Northern Law Review’s annual symposium, entitled, “Defining Law in a Time of Terror.” She plans to publish an essay in the law review in connection with the symposium.
On April 7, Professor Jennifer Koh participated in a panel entitled “Responses to Gender-Based Violence in the Trump Era,” which took place in connection with a conference on the Politicization of Safety sponsored by the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence. Her comments focused on the impact of current immigration enforcement policies on domestic violence in immigrant communities.
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.
Last week the Associate Dean at Western State College of Law, Susan Keller, returned to Harvard College, an undergraduate program within Harvard University, to participate in a symposium celebrating her undergraduate major, Folklore and Mythology. She talked about how the techniques she learned for studying oral and traditional narratives can inform the analysis of appellate legal opinions.
Last weekend, a team from Western State College of Law consisting of Jennifer Pyka and Luz Ayala, coached by Professor Cheyanna Jaffke, competed in the 2017 UC Davis Asylum & Refugee Law National Moot Court Competition.
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.
Professor at Western State College of Law, Lori Roberts, wrote an article titled “Brawling with the Consumer Review Site Bully,” which has been published in the University of Cincinnati Law Review, at 84 U. Cin. 633 (2016).
Attorney and faculty member at Western State College of Law, Sabrina Rivera, recently served as a panelist on the Immigration Attorney Panel held at Whittier Law School on Nov. 7, 2016. The panel discussed careers and networking for law students within Immigration Law. Other participating firms included Fragomen,Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP; Law Offices of Maciel & Ayala, LLP; LawOffice of Noreen Barcena; and My Advocate Group.
Professor Paula Manning’s presentation, “It’s What You Say AND How You Say It: Autonomy, Supportive Feedback, Mindset, and Motivation,” was held at McGeorge School of Law on October 18. In this presentation, Professor Manning discussed how faculty at McGeorge can provide feedback to students in ways that increase motivation, foster a growth mindset, and lead to greater student success.
Professor Gotanda was invited to speak by the American Constitution Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, South Asian Law Student Association, OUTLaw, Black Law Student Association and Alliance for Diversity. The presentation was part of a planned series of Critical Race Theory commentaries on well-known constitutional law cases.
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.
In a red-carpet ribbon cutting ceremony, The Irvine Chamber of Commerce, the Orange County Bar Association, the Irvine City Council and Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, welcomed Western State College of Law to its new location at 1 Banting, Irvine on the evening of Friday, April 29, 2016.
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.