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
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).
Principles to Advance Energy Justice for Native Americans, article in Fall 2020 issue of Energy Bar Association’s EBA Brief
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
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.
California Passes New Law Preserving Fair and Open Access to the Internet – Illuminate, Santa Clara University Thought Leaders, September 5, 2018
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
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
- 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