Law Alumni Events
Meet old friends and celebrate your Santa Clara Law experience at these events.
BY ASA PITTMAN ’09 AND MICHAEL WALLACE
Celebration of Leadership and Achievement
THURSDAY, APRIL 29
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Santa Clara Convention Center.
Join us in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of these special leaders in the legal profession who have made significant contributions to their communities and Santa Clara Law.
ALUMNI SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
MARJORIE COHN ’75 is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent, and her forthcoming anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. She is on the bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and is the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. A criminal defense attorney, Cohn publishes extensively and provides commentary about criminal justice, U.S. foreign policy, and human rights, for, among others, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.
She says her interest in international human rights law began when she took a course at Santa Clara Law in which she wrote a paper on Chile’s nationalization of the copper mining industry. “I’ve tried to use my legal skills, teaching, and writing to achieve social justice and oppose U.S. involvement in illegal wars,” she says. “I find myself consistently siding with the underdog.”
PHIL SIMS ’71 is a principal at Sims and Layton, a San Jose business law firm specializing in employment law representing management and nonprofits. He was a founding member of the Santa Clara County and California State Bar Labor Law Sections, and was chair of the Nonprofit Committee of the State Bar. He is a past chair of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce; past president of the Santa Clara County Bar, Rotary Club of San Jose, and the Santa Clara Law Alumni Association; and has served as a Superior Court judge pro tem. In recent years his interest in settling disputes out of court has led to increased work in arbitration and mediation, both as an advocate and arbitrator/mediator.
“My class at Santa Clara Law was comparatively small,” he says, “and many of the courses were taught by judges and trial lawyers, so it was a practical experience —why it is done this way, as opposed to abstract theory. For me, it was a tremendous opportunity, and very personal: You got to know the faculty and they took a personal interest in you.”
EDWIN J. OWENS LAWYER OF THE YEAR AWARD
GORDON YAMATE ’80 served as vice president and general counsel for Knight Ridder when it was the second-largest newspaper company in the U.S. Prior to that, he was vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of Liberate Technologies, a firm that developed software for accessing the internet through television boxes and other internet appliances, and before that was a partner in the Silicon Valley offices of McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, specializing in corporate securities and intellectual property law. Since Knight Ridder’s sale to McClatchy in 2006, he has focused more extensively on philanthropic endeavors, including service as past chair of Silicon Valley FACES, chair-elect of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, and board member of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. He is an adjunct lecturer at Santa Clara Law, where he teaches a corporate governance seminar; he also co-chaired the 2009 Santa Clara Law Strategic Planning Committee. He continues to chair the In-House Committee of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
“Santa Clara Law’s focus on high tech and public service has helped distinguish it,” he says, “and while I didn’t consciously think about it in law school, I realize that the school’s emphasis on ethical thinking guided me in my corporate career and in the nonprofit work I’m doing now.”
SANTA CLARA LAW AMICUS AWARD
THE HONORABLE RONALD M. WHYTE was appointed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by President George H. W. Bush in 1992. Before that he was a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, and prior to that a partner in the San Jose firm Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel, specializing in civil litigation. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Southern California School of Law, and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps 1968-71. He has served Santa Clara Law in a variety of ways, including teaching a judicial externship class, judging moot court competitions, and participating in programs sponsored by the school. He has served for a number of years on the Board of Visitors and High Tech Advisory Council.
“Santa Clara is a first class law school with strong programs in high tech,” he says. “I’ve hired several graduates as law clerks, and they’ve performed very well. What comes to mind most when I think of Santa Clara is what it’s done for me. When I started as a federal judge, I had no experience in patent law, but was able to audit a course at Santa Clara Law that gave a good background and foundation in the subject.” Judge Whyte now enjoys a national reputation for his expertise in patent law.
For more information on the Celebration of Leadership and Achievement, go to law.scu.edu/alumni/celebration-of-leadership.cfm.
12th Annual Justice Edward Panelli Golf Classic
MONDAY, JUNE 21
10:30 a.m. - 7:15 p.m.
San Jose Country Club
Honoring retired State Supreme Court Justice Edward Panelli ’55, this annual golf classic raises funds for law scholarships and offers a day of fun, networking, and gourmet food with more than 100 golfers. The tournament is a scramble format with the Panelli Cup awarded to the foursome with the lowest score.
The importance of the tournament can best be shared by Jessica Jackson, one of last year’s student scholarship recipients. “As a single mother and full-time law student, I would have been forced to take out enormous loans if not for the Panelli scholarship,” she says. “Not having those huge loans allows me the freedom to pursue a career in public interest law.”
For more information on the Panelli Golf Classic, go to law.scu.edu/alumni/panelli-golf-classic.cfm.
Rolanda Pierre-Dixon, co-chair 1980 Reunion Committee
Law Reunion Weekend
SEPTEMBER 10 - 12
“The most unexpected part [of reunion work],” says Rolanda Pierre-Dixon ’80 “is talking to classmates I haven’t spoken to since law school and hearing in their voices the same persons they were 30 years ago.”
Pierre-Dixon, an assistant district attorney for Santa Clara County, is one of several members of her class working to make this year’s reunion a special and memorable occasion. Fellow committee chair Kathy Sure ’80, an administrative law judge, says that in addition to giving back to the University, reunion committee work “is an easy way to reconnect with people with whom you spent quality time and have something in common.”
Gordon Yamate ’80, who is the 2010 Santa Clara Law Owens Lawyer of the Year (see above), joins Pierre-Dixon and Sure as co-chair of the 1980 Reunion.
This year’s Law Reunion Weekend will honor alumni who graduated in years ending in “0” or “5” between 1960 and 2005. A full schedule is planned, including golf, CLE presentation, class receptions and dinners, Sunday liturgy, and more.
Volunteers are still needed to help plan and promote Reunion Weekend programs. If you graduated from Santa Clara Law in one of the years mentioned above and would like to be a part of your class’ reunion leadership, contact Susan Moore at SAMoore@scu.edu, (408) 551-1763 or visit law.scu.edu/alumni/reunion-weekend-home.cfm