University of San Diego School of Law
Advocate Fall 2017 Issue

Guiding Light

Julianne D’Angelo Fellmeth ’83 (JD), ’76 (BA) reflects on 30 years of nurturing public interest lawyers

The news in March that longtime CPIL Administrative Director Julianne D’Angelo Fellmeth, ’83 (JD), ’76 (BA), planned to retire was met with disbelief by many of her former students. For 30 years, D’Angelo Fellmeth has been known as a standard-bearer in public interest law in California.

Since she started working full time as supervising attorney at CPIL in 1986, D’Angelo Fellmeth has extended the walls of her classrooms to include the vast expanse of California’s web of regulatory agencies and professional licensing boards. She has taught more than 1,000 students the intricacies of monitoring these mostly invisible state agencies and professional boards. Every year, her students fought alongside her in playing the role of public interest advocates during meetings and hearings where most of the time the public was unrepresented.

During her tenure, D’Angelo Fellmeth helped transform the inner workings of state licensing boards such as the California Medical Board, the Board of Accountancy and other professional boards. She has written more than a dozen major statutes in the medical area and helped ignite the debate on professional licensing board composition, resulting in numerous professional boards now having more public members than licensee members. Her regulatory advocacy also resulted in the passing of a law mandating that public protection is the paramount priority of each occupational licensing program within the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Even though she will still be involved in editing CPI L’s California Regulatory Law Reporter, D’Angelo Fellmeth says it is time to make way for the “clones” she has trained over the years. “I have done nothing but work for 30 years,” she joked, “so I am looking forward to getting to know my rose garden.”

Matthew DeCarolis, ’05 (JD), is one of the many public interest “clones” that D’Angelo Fellmeth helped nurture through CPIL. A staff attorney at Bet Tzedek in Los Angeles, DeCarolis says the lessons he learned from D’Angelo Fellmeth have served him well in his job representing immigrant and low-wage workers who are victims of wage theft before the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. “She taught students to use law as a tool to advocate for the vulnerable,” DeCarolis noted. “Julie has touched so many students’ lives and has made California a better place through her decades of advocacy and perseverance.”