Catherine J. K. Sandoval

Professor of Law

Professor Sandoval is well known in the world of academia for her research on telecommunications, antitrust, energy, and contract issues. She is a tenured member of the Santa Clara University School of Law faculty which she joined in 2004. She has had extensive experience as a leader in numerous government organizations, as well as in the private sector. In January 2011 Governor Brown appointed Professor Sandoval to serve as a Commissioner at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which regulates energy, water, telecommunications, and rail services in California. The California State Senate unanimously confirmed her to serve in that post. During her term as a CPUC Commission, she was appointed by the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services. She served as Co-Vice Chair of the Telecommunications Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Prior to joining the academy, Governor Davis appointed her to serve as Undersecretary and previously as Staff Director of California’s Business Transportation and Housing Agency from 2001 to 2003. In that post she oversaw a wide variety of legal and policy matters affecting California’s infrastructure and economy, and advised the Secretary on energy, communications, and housing policy.

She has written numerous articles on Communications Law, Antitrust Law, Energy Law, and Contracts issues. In 2010 she won the SCU Public Interest and Social Justice Achievement Award in recognition of her legal scholarship.

Professor Sandoval was the Director for the Santa Clara Law Oxford University Summer Law Program in 2018. She twice served as the Director for Santa Clara Law’s Summer Program on Human Rights Law in San Jose Costa Rica.

Prior to joining the Santa Clara Law faculty, Professor Sandoval served as the Undersecretary, and previously as the Staff Director of the State of California’s 47,000-employee Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. From 1994-1999 she was a senior manager at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and was the Director of the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities. She helped develop the FCC’s first spectrum auctions, worked on spectrum policy, and initiatives to increase opportunities for Internet, broadcast, and telecommunications service. In the private sector, she was the Vice-President and General Counsel of Z-Spanish Media Corporation, providing legal advice on media mergers and acquisitions, FCC regulatory matters, and Department of Justice merger approval. At the Law Offices of Munger, Tolles & Olson, Sandoval was an associate, focusing on business litigation including securities, contract, and labor matters. She clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from 1990-1991.

Sandoval attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, the first Latina in the nation to receive this honor. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University, earned an M. Litt. in Politics at Oxford, and a J.D. at Stanford Law School where she served on the Stanford Law Review. She hails from East Los Angeles and lives with her family in the Silicon Valley.

Recent Presentations and Commentary

Statement to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee In Support of My Confirmation to Serve as a Member of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Nov. 17 2022

Connect the Whole Community: Leadership Gaps Drive the Digital Divide and Fuel Disaster and Social Vulnerabilities, Presentation to the California Emerging Technology Fund by Catherine Sandoval and Patrick Lanthier

Catherine J.K. Sandoval and Patrick Lanthier, Connect the Whole Community; Leadership Gaps Drive Disaster Vulnerability and the Digital Divide book chapter in Technology vs Government: The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object (Emerald Pub., Lloyd Levine, Ed.) (forthcoming, 2021).

Amicus brief to U.S. Supreme Court on FCC v. Prometheus Radio Broadcasters

Principles to Advance Energy Justice for Native Americans, article in Fall 2020 issue of Energy Bar Association’s EBA Brief

Broadband Institute of California comments to CPUC – Feb 21, 2020

Appendix A to Broadband Institute of California comments to CPUC – Feb 21, 2020

Broadband Institute of California reply comments to CPUC -March 6, 2020

Water Renewable Energy Nexus and Opportunities, September 2020

Professor Sandoval Comments on PG&E Wildfire Safety Plan WSD draft resolution May 27, 2020

Net Neutrality Protects Public Safety – High Tech Law Institute Webinar March 25, 2020

Go Big to Connect Public Information to Analysis and Action to Protect Public Safety – PG&E Workshop Feb 12, 2020

Cybersecurity Paradigm Shift, Information Intermediaries, Public Safety, and Democracy February 2020, Stanford University

Net Neutrality Repeal Rips Holes in the Public Safety Net, Professor Catherine Sandoval 2019, Pittsburgh Law Review

Media Diversity Protects Democracy and the Public Interest, presentation given to the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing on Media Diversity on January 15, 2020.

DC Circuit Mozilla v FCC Opinion Oct 1 2019

Presentation on the Native American Reservation Electricity Gap at the Intertrust Innovator Series on August 13, 2019

Cybersecurity Paradigm Shift: The Risks of Net Neutrality Repeal to Energy Reliability, Public Safety, and Climate Change Solutions, published August 2019

Contested Places, Utility Pole Spaces: Safety-Centric Utility Pole and Infrastructure Regulation and Competition

Agenda for CPUC “The Future of California’s Communications Grid” including Professor Sandoval’s panel, 5.20.19

Energy Access is Energy Justice by Professor – book chapter in “Energy Justice, U.S. and International Perspectives”

Stanford Presentation, The Yurok Tribe’s Energy Justice Leadership to Close the Native American Reservation Electricity Gap Stanford March 4 2019

Principles for Utility Regulation in the Face of Increasing Wildfire Risk – December 2018 Markkula Center for Applied Ethics article

Net Neutrality Powers Energy and Forestalls Climate Change – October 2018

California Passes New Law Preserving Fair and Open Access to the InternetIlluminate, Santa Clara University Thought Leaders, September 5, 2018

Amicus Curiae Brief Administrative Communications Energy Antitrust and Contract Law Professors Aug. 27, 2018

Comments for CPUC Utility Pole Census and Competitive Access Order Instituting Investigation, 17-06-027

Allegations of false comments based on identity theft and criminal impersonation submitted in the FCC’s Net Neutrality Proceeding must be investigated

Presentation: “Net Neutrality Powers Energy and Forestalls Climate Change” from the Climate and Energy Law Symposium at University of San Diego School of Law on 11/3/17

Presentation “Net Neutrality Protects Democracy” from the Scholar Commons Soiree Lightning Lectures on 10/26/17

August 30, 2017 comments to the FCC opposing their proposal to repeal net neutrality rules

Exhibits for August 30, 2017 comments to FCC

November 8, 2017 comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing their proposal to pay more to energy resources with 90 days fuel on hand to address undefined electric reliability issues

Daily Journal Op-Ed on Open Internet – May 2017


J.D., Stanford University, 1990

Master of Letters, Oxford University, 1990

B.A., Yale University, 1984

Areas of Specialization

Communications and Internet Law, Antitrust Law, Energy Law, Contracts, Regulated Industries, Administrative Law, Business Organizations, High Tech Law, Social Justice Law, International and Comparative Antitrust, Energy, and Communications Law

Affiliations and Honors

  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2021
  • Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission, Jan. 2011-Jan. 2017
  • Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services, 2013-2017, elected State Chair 2014-2015, and State Policy Chair, 2013-2014.
  • National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; Telecommunications Committee, Federalism and Telecommunications Committee, and Utility Market Access Committee, 2011-Jan. 2017. Co-Vice-Chair, 2014-2016.
  • Member, NARUC Presidential Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications, 2012-2013.
  • Undersecretary and Staff Director, State of California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, 2001-2004
  • General Counsel, Z-Spanish Media Corporation (merged with Entravision Communications Corporation), 1999-2001
  • Director, Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities, 1995-99. Special Advisor to the Director of the FCC’s Office of International Communications, 1994-1995
  • Vice-President, U.S. Delegation to the World Telecommunications Development Conference, 1994
  • Associate, Munger, Tolles & Olson, 1991-1994
  • Law Clerk, Judge Dorothy W. Nelson, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, 1990-1991
  • Member, California Bar
  • Member, Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Member, Santa Clara County La Raza Lawyer’s Association
  • Member, U.S. Supreme Court Bar
  • Member, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Bar
  • Member, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court Bar
  • Member, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of CA Bar
  • Member, U.S. District Court for the Central District of CA Bar
  • Member, Energy Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Santa Clara County Bar Association
  • Member, Conference of California Public Utility Counsel
  • Association of American Law Schools, Section on Communication, Media & Information Law Section, President-elect, 2020