Dear Friends,

Spring is in full swing, and each daily stroll across campus is another hope- and joy-filled moment of gratitude. The Santa Clara campus gardens are in full bloom with wisterias and roses, and the outdoor spaces throughout campus quickly fill up with community gatherings. Throughout Charney Hall, our law students and faculty are preparing for final examinations, our 3Ls are eagerly looking ahead to wrapping up their law school studies, and our campus continues to provide opportunities to connect, build community, and serve others.

I am immensely grateful and proud to be part of a Santa Clara Law community that centers its efforts and resources on student learning and grounds its education on a model of service for and with others. Santa Clara Law plays a vital role in educating students to become leaders who will foster dialogue and not discord; encourage empathy, compassion, and loving kindness and not hatred and vitriol; and promote and protect the rule of law and core democratic values.

Over the past week, the Center for Global Law & Policy at Santa Clara Law served as the inaugural host institution for the Transpacific Negotiation Institute, a path-breaking international program that connects Japanese lawyers with Santa Clara Law students and lawyers for a week of intensive negotiation training and simulations. This week-long training offered valuable practice in intercultural communication, collaboration, and negotiation skills. We are incredibly grateful to Professor Emeritus Phil Jimenez and International Business Negotiations Professor Etsuo Doi, for their visionary leadership in helping to craft this innovative cross-Pacific education and training program. I want to also thank Professor Laura Love for designing the curriculum and teaching the training session, as well as Sarah Brockmeyer, Sr. Program Manager, and Mike Flynn, Associate Dean for Global Engagement, for deftly coordinating and managing the entire program from its inception.

Last weekend, I had the honor of attending a day of generative dialogue on Restorative Justice at the Diocese of San Diego. Together with Bishops and other faith leaders, formerly incarcerated persons, judges, members of law enforcement, educators, and practicing lawyers, we developed a strategic plan for turning hearts, minds, and resources toward Restorative Justice’s proven trauma-informed practices of healing, accountability, mercy, and community building. 

For over two decades, The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform by providing essential advocacy and policy work. NCIP recently published a groundbreaking report, “Blind Acceptance,” which details how law enforcement agencies are failing to comply with eyewitness identification laws meant to prevent wrongful convictions. We are so proud of the eye-opening findings put forth by NCIP’s Executive Director, Todd Fries, and a dedicated Research Team that includes our very own NCIP law students.

Our Honors Moot Court International (HMCI) students have shown remarkable talent with their brief writing and oral advocacy skills at local, regional and national moot court competitions. I had the honor of serving as judge for the law school’s annual HMCI competition. I am incredibly proud of all of our competitors for diligently researching the case and expertly presenting their arguments in court. Congratulations to all competitors, especially Leor Chechick 3L and Ajit Bhullar 2L, who won Best Brief; and Kathryn Rankin 2L, Alyson Smock 2L, Linden Dexter 3L, Taylor LaFrancis-Garcia 3L, and Aaron Stromberg 2L, for winning Best Oral Advocates! Santa Clara Law students recently made history at the 2024 ABA Client Counseling Competition with both teams advancing to the Regional Finals–Eduardo Fisher 3L and Joseph Pangrazio 2L took third place overall, and Ayaka Chin 2L and Kylie Kovach 3L clinched first place overall. Chin and Kovach were among 12 teams to advance to the National Competition; out of 86 teams, they received the highest and the only perfect score on their memo. Congratulations to our outstanding students, and thank you to everyone who provided invaluable instruction, guidance and support to our HMCI students–guest lecturers, panelists, faculty graders, round judges, advising professors, alumni advisors, and competitions managers. 

I look forward to congratulating and recognizing our graduates at the series of Commencement events next week, including Liturgical Mass and Celebration of Spirit & Excellence on Friday, May 17th, and culminating in the 2024 Law Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18th. I am extremely grateful to Vernā Myers, inaugural VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, for serving as this year’s Commencement speaker. Vernā is a cultural innovator, thought leader, and social commentator who is well-known for her ability to help people bridge differences and connect more meaningfully. We are honored to have Vernā Myers address our graduates to shed light on the importance of bridge-building in the practice of law. I hope you will join us in celebrating our amazing graduates for completing their law school journey.

With warm regards and tremendous gratitude,

Michael J. Kaufman Signature