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University of San Diego School of Law
Advocate Fall 2017 Issue

LAWYER S AS CHANGEMAKERS

Lawyers are changemakers. The University of San Diego is one of 41 universities around the world designated as a “changemaker” institution by the international organization, Ashoka. There is a great deal of changemaking going on at our university, but none more significant, impactful and enduring than what is going on at the law school.

At last year’s Bergman Memorial Lecture (“Revisiting a Landmark Case”), marking the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case on juvenile justice, In re Gault, a distinguished panel, which included one of our alumnae, Carolyn Caietti, ’86 (JD), ’83 (BA), a San Diego Superior Court Judge who heads the juvenile division, showed how lawyers can make a real difference. The panelists discussed how, since In re Gault, a cruel and arbitrary system of juvenile detention (where a boy of 16 could, without due process, be sentenced to years in incarceration for making an obscene phone call) has been transformed into a system of juvenile justice based on due process and the recognition of the constitutional rights of children. As I left that lecture, pondering what I had learned about results in that case, and the subsequent reforms made by lawyers and jurists to the juvenile justice system, I could not help contrasting what I had heard to the posters protesting injustice that I saw on the walls of the building where the lecture had taken place. Lawyers can do more than protest. They can turn the protest into effective action. Lawyers can make a real difference. They can truly change society and human lives.

American society seems to be recognizing the importance of lawyers again, after years when coming to law school and becoming a lawyer were disparaged. Look at the success of the musical, Hamilton. Among other things, Hamilton tells the story of the important role lawyers played in establishing the sound foundations of the rule of law on which our constitutional democracy is based.

In the wake of events like Charlottesville, we are asking what kind of a society we want to be. Lawyers have vital roles in answering that question. Legal expertise on immigration and refugee law, human rights, discrimination, religious freedom and constitutional powers has never been more essential to our democracy. Moreover, legal services, such as those offered by our clinics or provided by our law students doing pro bono legal work for individuals in the San Diego community, have never been more needed.

There are numerous examples of changemakers in this issue of the Advocate. We highlight two among the many of our students who have served individuals defending their legal rights. For 4L part-time student Curtis Davis, a teacher who came to our law school to protect the right to education, it was working with our student organization Advocates for Children and Education to get an expelled high school student reinstated and on a path to college. For 3L Brisa Velazquez, it was representing a client to gain employment insurance benefits through our Workers’ Rights Legal Clinic.

Among the featured alumni, there are many notable examples of how lawyers can advocate for change, including our 2017 Commencement speaker, Mark Brnovich, ’91 (JD), a son of immigrants whose first language was not English, now serving as the Attorney General of Arizona, and Jae Park, ’04 (JD), an associate at Dentons who received Casa Cornelia Law Center’s 2016 Distinguished Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award for his work for asylum seekers. Our 2016 Distinguished Alumni awards went to two notable community leaders and changemakers, a l a n d e c k e r LA WYER S AS CHAN GEMAKER S “ I came to law school to protect children and their right to education.” —4LPT Curtis Davis Dean Stephen Ferruolo with 2016-17 SBA president Lauren Stockunas, '17 (JD), at Commencement 2017. 2 | F a l l 2 0 1 7 introduced into our first-year curriculum last year, our centers and legal clinics have a long legacy of educating changemakers. The feature stories in this issue of the Advocate are about the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), founded in 1980, and our clinical program, which was started 45 years ago. CPIL has educated several generations of changemaking public interest attorneys, including environmental activist, Robert Kelter, ’87 (JD), and Bridget Gramme, ’03 (JD), ’98 (BA), CPIL’s new administrative director who is leading CPIL’s effort to reform the California State Bar. On the enduring impact of our legal clinics, you will find the exemplary stories of Larry Gallagher, ’76 (JD), who worked in our Immigration and Civil Clinics in the 1970s and had a long and distinguished career as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and 3L Dan Ballinger, who now works in our Veterans Clinic and is learning the skills he will need for his intended career representing veterans in disability cases. This is how the changemaking legacy of USD School of Law has been built and sustained. Also in this issue of the Advocate, the Faculty Footnotes show that our distinguished faculty is involved in addressing many of the most important legal and policy issues of our time, as well as committed to teaching our students the analytical and advocacy skills required for them to be true changemakers. I am inspired by USD School of Law’s changemakers, and I am humbled every day as I hear of new examples of changemaking by our students, our faculty, and our alumni. It has been my great privilege and honor to serve as their dean. the Honorable Irma Poole Asberry, ’79 (JD), another advocate for juvenile justice who is also the first African-American woman to serve on the Riverside County Superior Court, and Robert Brewer, ’75 (JD), a highly regarded litigator who has been a leader in the military, in public service and in private practice. Our 2016 Rising Star Recent Alumni winners include Andrew Haden, ’08 (JD), who serves as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of California, and lawyer/entrepreneur, Vic Merjanian, ’10 (JD), an upcoming leader in the Orange County Bar. As a philanthropist carrying on the legacy of his parents, Michael Kaplan ’72 (JD), recipient of USD’s 2017 Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award, has helped build the City of Hope Hospital into one of the leading centers of cancer research in the world.

Our alumni features also show inspiring examples of changemaking at the global level. As the founder and dean of a private law school in Kuwait, Mohammad Al-Moqatei, ’84 (LLM), is committed to training lawyers from his country and the Middle East to understand different legal systems and be able to practice and compete globally. Then there is Barry La Forgia, ’76 (JD), winner of the 2017 Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Humanitarian Award. La Forgia left his successful private practice to establish and lead a non-profit organization to alleviate human suffering. Under his leadership, International Relief Teams has provided humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters, war and poverty in more than 68 countries for the past 28 years.

This issue of the Advocate also shows where this remarkable changemaking is incubated—in the classrooms, the centers and institutes, and the legal clinics of our law school. While we continue to be innovative in what and how we teach students at USD, as evidenced by the Experiential Advocacy Practicum, which was introduced into our first-year curriculum last year, our centers and legal clinics have a long legacy of educating changemakers. The feature stories in this issue of the Advocate are about the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), founded in 1980, and our clinical program, which was started 45 years ago. CPIL has educated several generations of changemaking public interest attorneys, including environmental activist, Robert Kelter, ’87 (JD), and Bridget Gramme, ’03 (JD), ’98 (BA), CPIL’s new administrative director who is leading CPIL’s effort to reform the California State Bar.

On the enduring impact of our legal clinics, you will find the exemplary stories of Larry Gallagher, ’76 (JD), who worked in our Immigration and Civil Clinics in the 1970s and had a long and distinguished career as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and 3L Dan Ballinger, who now works in our Veterans Clinic and is learning the skills he will need for his intended career representing veterans in disability cases. This is how the changemaking legacy of USD School of Law has been built and sustained. Also in this issue of the Advocate, the Faculty Footnotes show that our distinguished faculty is involved in addressing many of the most important legal and policy issues of our time, as well as committed to teaching our students the analytical and advocacy skills required for them to be true changemakers.

I am inspired by USD School of Law’s changemakers, and I am humbled every day as I hear of new examples of changemaking by our students, our faculty, and our alumni. It has been my great privilege and honor to serve as their dean.

Stephen C. Ferruolo
Dean, USD School of Law