SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 15, 2019—Santa Clara University School of Law kicked off its 2019-2020 academic year Thursday evening with a convocation ceremony and a speech by alumnus and Facebook lawyer Akshay Verma JD ’06.
Verma, who also teaches critical lawyering skills at Santa Clara Law, spoke to the 450 assembled faculty, staff, students, family, and friends, about the many new “amazing” careers awaiting students after graduation, as well as students’ own responsibility to “own” the outcomes of their legal careers.
Verma said Santa Clara Law’s approach of front-loading professional experiences into the law-school years is a distinct advantage in Silicon Valley, which he called “the epicenter of the hottest job market on the planet.”
“What really sets Santa Clara apart is its dedication to professional development and experiential learning,” Verma said. As a result, “this school has such an incredible reputation for producing lawyers who can add value to their employers on Day One.”
In the audience were a dozen second-year law students who are part of Santa Clara Law’s Tech Edge JD program. One-hundred percent of those students received intern- or externships in the company of their choice this past summer, a reflection of the robust skill-building and career preparation inherent in the program.
Verma said Santa Clara Law professors—who include former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers, as well as former government and corporate attorneys—continue to be available to students years after they graduate. “Imagine reaching out to one of your professors 10 years from now, maybe because you needed some advice on a career change or maybe you needed help thinking through a thorny client issue, and just knowing they’d be there to pick up the phone, or answer e-mail, or whatever technology we’ll have 10 years from now,” he said. “I’ve done both of those, by the way.”
Verma spent seven years practicing in the environmental field at Pillsbury Winthrop and Farella Braun + Martell. In 2012, he transitioned into a legal consulting role at Axiom Global, where he spent more than six years supporting Silicon Valley’s largest technology companies on legal department strategy. That led to his current position in legal strategy and operations at Facebook.
During the convocation, Santa Clara Law interim dean Anna Han greeted and welcomed the attendees to the Santa Clara “family,” saying “It is my wish for you as interim dean that during your time here you’ll learn the law, but also ethics; that you will acquire legal skills, but also friends.”
The Hon. Risë Jones Pichon ’73, JD ’76, retired Presiding Superior Court Judge and a jurist-in-residence at Santa Clara Law, also welcomed and administered the oath of professionalism to the incoming class of students. Student Bar Association co-presidents Trishanpreet Sandhu and Osvaldo Hidalgo Otamendi also greeted the students with words of welcome and encouragement.
Also in attendance was Justice Edward A. Panelli BS ’53 JD ’55, trustee of Santa Clara University and a justice-in-residence at Santa Clara Law.
A Proliferation of Opportunity
Verma noted that after the cratering of the legal market following the 2008 mortgage crisis—which he likened to a raging forest fire—new legal fields have proliferated. He pointed to an increase of in-house legal jobs for young lawyers, and an explosion of “Alternative Legal Services Provider” jobs for lawyers who can help run business units, develop new business, or ensure compliance. “The innovation taking place in our backyard is of a scale and speed the world has never known,” he said.
A Diverse and Accomplished Class of First-year Students
The newest class of Santa Clara Law comprises 250 students, 90 percent of whom are attending school full-time. Forty-nine percent of the class is female, 51 percent male, and 31 percent are first-generation students, meaning their parents did not attend four-year college or law school. Fifty-seven percent of the class describes themselves as part of an ethnic minority group. Twenty-eight of the students already have an advanced degree, ranging from master’s degrees in arts or science, to three students who hold PhDs.
The 249 were drawn from an applicant pool of more than 2,000, with median LSAT scores and GPAs that are among the highest in SCU Law’s recent history. The students hail from 23 states and five foreign countries, including Canada, China, Egypt, Korea, and Taiwan. Eight additional students are pursuing LLM degrees. Those students include one each from Austria, France, Russia, and Switzerland, and four from the U.S.
Verma’s wife, whom he met at SCU, is Tina Doshi JD ’05, chief of staff at the San Francisco cybersecurity company Redacted. In recent years, the couple has hosted a Santa Clara Law admitted students’ preview reception at their home.
About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property. For more information, see law.scu.edu.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org | 408-554-5121