Updates from Development & Alumni Relations

New Leader Brings Experience, Enthusiasm, Expertise

A landscape photograph of Veronica Alexander (Berkeley Law's new assistant dean for Development and Alumni Relations) sitting at a table as she smiles with her iPad
MISSION DRIVEN: Veronica Alexander brings a proven track record of success to her new position leading Berkeley Law’s Development and Alumni Relations team. Photo by Laurie Frasier
She is officially Berkeley Law’s new assistant dean for development and alumni relations, but Veronica Alexander is no rookie when it comes to, well, pretty much any aspect of the job.
Familiarity with UC Berkeley? She joined the law school from the university’s School of Social Welfare, where she served as assistant dean for development and external relations.

Familiarity with the legal education world? Alexander spent almost a decade as director of development at UC Irvine School of Law, and before that nearly 20 years at UCLA School of Law, where she was director of financial aid.

Familiarity with Berkeley Law’s senior administrative leadership? She worked closely with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on major fundraising during his time as Irvine Law’s founding dean, and was hired at UCLA in 1989 with Charles Cannon, now Berkeley Law’s senior assistant dean and chief administrative officer.

Alexander assumed her new role in June. She recently discussed her vision for alumni engagement with Andrew Cohen, Transcript’s managing editor.

“The community of advancement professionals welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and unique lived experiences — attracting individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit.”
— Veronica Alexander
What sparked your interest in this position?

I enjoy building relationships with individuals who are interested in higher education institutions. But all good intentions must be supported by an exceptional enterprise. Berkeley Law is outstanding in every way. I’ve watched the steady increase in BIPOC enrollment, the expansion of outward-facing centers, the impressive alumni lawmakers, and the clinics’ behind-the-scenes advocacy — it inspired me because I saw the law school community’s teamwork in action.

When I saw a position with Berkeley Law to join the Development and Alumni Relations team, I knew I had to apply. I know my background in fundraising and alumni engagement, combined with a collaborative student-focused approach, has prepared me for this role. I look forward to becoming a valued contributor to this phenomenal law school.

Burnout can be a factor in demanding leadership roles, but it seems your enthusiasm hasn’t waned. What about this work invigorates you?
The community of advancement professionals welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and unique lived experiences — attracting individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit. In short, the work is exciting and rewarding — we operate in real time, and there’s never a dull moment when you’re addressing relevant societal issues.
How much easier is your transition having already worked with Dean Chemerinsky, and why do you think it’s important to support his highest priorities?
Working again with Dean Chemerinsky is genuinely a career highlight — he’s an extraordinary scholar, humanitarian, visionary, and dean! I’m looking toward a new horizon of excellence.

The transition has been easy because of the dean’s beautiful attributes permeating the Berkeley Law community. Simply put, Dean Chemerinsky attracts talent, and the people asked to join the law school community are remarkably innovative risk-takers who perform at the highest levels within their role.

I believe it is important to support the dean’s highest priorities, recruiting and retaining talented faculty and increasing law student scholarship support, because Berkeley Law will provide our nation with critical thinkers and problem-solvers poised to examine complex issues during challenging times.

What do you value most about philanthropy and its impact?
When was the last time you shared something of great value with people you’ve never met? Money has value, and its value can transform places, people, and principles. But it also provides hope for a better tomorrow. For me, the transformational power of philanthropy is one of the most memorable moments you can imagine. It’s magical to share that experience with a donor. I value the impact of generosity because it creates sustainability for essential work that advances our public mission.
Why is investment in research and professional school education crucial not just for the students involved, but for California and the world?
Complex societies generate questions. Questions lead to research — monitored and conducted in an educational setting, challenging premises — which births excellence. Excellence is the perfect commodity you can give to any society. Excellence today will determine what the world can expect in the future. Research and professional school education is an investment in tomorrow’s complex society.

Honoring the Legacy of a Beloved Professor

Stephen Sugarman was a Berkeley Law institution during his almost half a century on the faculty — a celebrated scholar, sought-after teacher, and treasured mentor.

When he died in December 2021 after a long struggle with kidney cancer, Karen Carlson, his wife of 50 years, wanted to help pass along a source of support he’d enjoyed: summer stipends. The new Stephen Sugarman Public Interest Endowed Fellowship is funded by family, friends, colleagues, and former students to support Berkeley Law’s Summer Fellowship Program.

The larger program supports J.D. students who are completing a summer of qualifying public interest or public sector work. The Sugarman fellowship is earmarked for students working on education equity issues, like Shane Gilbert ’24, one of two inaugural recipients.

Gilbert taught high school history for five years in the New York City area before law school. He never met Sugarman, but knew his scholarship on school funding and disparities well.

A portrait photographic headshot of Stephen Sugarman grinning
SORELY MISSED: A faculty member for nearly 50 years, Stephen Sugarman was honored with a public interest fellowship in his name.
“His work in education law was unparalleled,” Gilbert says. “I am particularly inspired by his legal work to advance funding equity in schools.”

Gilbert spent his summer working at the Seattle office of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The office is a neutral fact-finder that evaluates complaints from students at federally funded schools alleging discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, national origin, or age. He assisted lawyers conducting interviews with complainants and helped analyze claims and decide how the agency should respond.

While Sugarman was well known for his scholarship on torts, including health law and insurance and personal injury policy, education parity brought him his initial prominence — and a spot on the Berkeley Law faculty.

He and now-Professor Emeritus Jack Coons helped litigate the original, and seminal, Serrano v. Priest school financing case. After Coons joined the faculty in 1968, Sugarman followed four years later. Over the years, he became known as a true community builder: generous with colleagues and students and dedicated to the school’s mission, serving two stints as associate dean and spending countless hours on committee work.

For decades, his crib sheet of the best places to eat in the East Bay was a must-read for new students and faculty.

At a festive spring 2021 event honoring Sugarman’s stellar career, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky described reading Coons’ and Sugarman’s 1970 book Private Wealth in Public Education as a college student and called Sugarman “the institutional memory and the conscience of Berkeley Law.”

Now, that legacy lives on, supporting the still-critical work of addressing inequity in education.

“I wish that I had the opportunity to know him,” Gilbert says. “But I am very grateful to be an inaugural recipient of this fellowship.” — Gwyneth K. Shaw

Want to contribute to the Sugarman Fellowship? Call (510) 643-9789.

Our Community Constellations

Much has changed during the COVID-19 rollercoaster ride, but not the inspiring work of Berkeley Law’s alumni community and the generosity of its donors. While the pandemic canceled our festive annual event bestowing the school’s highest awards in 2020, the efforts fueling those awards never wavered. In June, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky took delight in giving them to the 2020 and 2022 recipients.
A portrait photographic headshot of Cara Sandberg grinning as she holds her Berkeley Law 2020 Young Alumni Award medal over her left eye
MEDAL WORTHY: Cara Sandberg ’12 has served Berkeley Law in numerous ways since graduating. Photo by Jim Block

2020 Young Alumni Award: Cara Sandberg ’12. Partner at Conrad Metlitzky Kane. Berkeley Law Alumni Association board president. Led alumni efforts to recruit exceptional and diverse students. Longtime mentor for students and young alumni.

“There’s something truly special about the students and the alumni of this law school. At every turn in my academic and professional career, they took time and additional care to guide me and support my success.”

2020 Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Christopher Edley Jr. Interim dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Education. Renowned leader in advancing educational equity. Berkeley Law’s dean from 2004 to 2013.

“Berkeley Law students care about their institution and its mission in a way that I had never experienced. It’s our duty to keep it being a place where students generation after generation can find challenge, fulfillment, optimism, and empowerment.”

2020 Judge Lowell and Barbara Jensen Public Service Award: Claudia Wilken ’75. Senior judge at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Consistent Berkeley Law supporter. Returns each December to swear in graduates who passed the California Bar Exam.

“The greatest opportunity that I had to do public service in my career was as chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California … I’m proud that our court has followed the example of Judge Jensen.”

2020 Citation Award: Art ’71 and Mary Jo Shartsis ’72. Art was Shartsis Friese’s managing partner, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit president and director, and Berkeley Law Centennial co-chair. Mary Jo, who died in January 2021, was a prominent litigator who did prodigious pro bono work. Both served on the Berkeley Law Alumni Association board, Mary Jo as president.

Art said he has long admired “the law school’s dual mission to put people into the highest levels of public service and into the highest levels of private practice. I have been the beneficiary of both of those missions.”

2022 Young Alumni Award: Colin Allred ’14. Member of Congress from Texas (Dallas area). Co-president of his congressional freshman class. Played five seasons in the National Football League.

“The work that this university does, that the alumni do, that faculty do, is more important now than ever. The arc of history bends towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.”

2022 Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Mark Gergen. Tax law, contracts, and torts expert. Associate dean for faculty research and development (2016-2021). Chemerinsky said he’s never seen a faculty member more ready to do whatever it takes to help the school.

“These special projects and extra teaching responsibilities have been some of the most rewarding things I’ve done in the last 15 years. Each day I walk into the law school, I’m a grateful member of this community.”

2022 Judge Lowell and Barbara Jensen Public Service Award: Marsha Berzon ’73. U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Was a private practice lawyer for 25 years with a top Supreme Court litigation practice.

“Almost every aspect of my legal career … derived from the interwoven threads that were my law school experience. I am profoundly grateful for the inspiration of those years.”

2022 Citation Award: Joel Sanders ’82. Retired partner at Gibson Dunn. Berkeley Law lecturer in antitrust. Board member of the school’s East Bay Community Law Center and Berkeley Center for Law and Business.

“I feel I’ve been truly blessed ever since I entered as a 1L more than 40 years ago … Berkeley Law gave me opportunities and opened doors. I’ll be forever grateful for that.”Andrew Cohen

Challenge Accepted

Theresa Lee ’03 knows full well that most Berkeley Law graduates dive into busy careers after graduating and pay little attention to the school’s financial landscape. After all, she fell into that category herself.

But getting involved in the school’s annual Alumni Workplace Challenge proved eye-opening. The campaign is led by alumni volunteer captains who update fellow Berkeley Law grads in their organizations about the school, and encourage them to support it.

“When I became a captain, I was surprised to learn that Berkeley Law only gets approximately 5% of its funding from the state of California and relies on alumni support to help fill the gaps,” says Lee, a counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in San Francisco. “I’ve continued in this role because I really admire Dean (Erwin) Chemerinsky and the law school’s growth under his leadership.”

Formerly known as Partners in Leadership, the Challenge — which has raised about $15 million for Berkeley Law since its inception — supports financial aid, faculty recruitment and retention, clinics and centers, and other core priorities. Earlier this year, Lee reached out to Pillsbury partner Rachel Horsch ’99 to help as a co-captain.

A portrait photograph of Theresa Lee and Rachel Horsch standing next to each other smiling as they pose for a picture outside
BRIDGE BUILDERS: Theresa Lee ’03 and Rachel Horsch ’99 led a winning effort connecting alumni at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman with the law school.
“I’ve historically given during the campaign, mostly because I believe that it’s important to maintain a high profile on campus for recruiting purposes and that a strong showing in the Challenge is an important aspect of that effort,” Horsch says.

Both applaud how the Challenge brings alumni within organizations closer together — and freely admit that they enjoy the friendly competition. Berkeley Law maintains an online leaderboard with workplaces grouped according to their number of alumni, from Mod A (firms with 41-plus alums) down to Mod G (2-6). Lee and Horsch helped Pillsbury earn first place in Mod B (30-40 alums), narrowly holding off Fenwick & West.

“I became swept up in the exercise,” Horsch says.

2022 Alumni Workplace Challenge

  • 61 workplaces participated
  • 44% giving rate from 577 alumni donors
  • $890,875 raised
  • 13 workplaces achieved 100% giving
  • 100% of alumni volunteer captains made a gift
Challenge champs:

  • Mod A (41+ alumni): O’Melveny & Myers
  • Mod B (30-40): Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  • Mod C (20-29): Davis Wright Tremaine; Farella Braun + Martel
  • Mod D (15-19): Cox Castle & Nicholson; Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger
  • Mod E (10-14): Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Jenner & Block; Vinson & Elkins
  • Mod F (7-9): Baker Botts; Uber
  • Mod G (2-6): Bartko Zankel Bunzel & Miller; Lane Powell; Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger; Polsinelli
“We were very excited to win the No. 1 spot in Mod B, which is a first for us,” Lee says. “I give a lot of credit to Rachel, who was very effective with her one-to-one outreach, especially to the partners.”

For Lee, dialing into the school’s priorities and challenges reinforces gratitude for her own law school experience.

“I’m so thankful for the education I received at Berkeley Law and the friendships I made as a law student,” she says. “I believe alumni support is important in furthering the school’s mission to provide a world-class legal education, advance research, and support social justice initiatives. It helps to know that we’re making a difference in supporting the next generation of lawyers.”

If your organization is not yet involved in the Challenge or you’d like to learn more about becoming a captain, please contact Executive Director of Development Ingrid McKenney at — Andrew Cohen

Expanding Knowledge and Opportunities

Donor generosity allows Berkeley Law to broaden its reach and become accessible to exceptional students from all backgrounds. Here are a few new funds that advance the school’s public mission in myriad ways.

Wendy Rothstein Opportunity Scholarship Fund

  • Supports students through the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship program, a three-year, full-tuition scholarship for first-generation college students
  • Funded by a major pledge over five years from Rothstein’s husband James Rothstein ’71, CEO of Lone Oak Fund LLC in Los Angeles
  • Prospective recipients will be identified, screened, and selected by the dean or the dean’s designee
A portrait photograph of Jane L. Scheiber (left) and her husband, Professor Emeritus Harry N. Scheiber standing next to each other as they smile posing for a picture together
PARTNERS: The late Jane L. Scheiber and her husband, Professor Emeritus Harry N. Scheiber

Harry and Jane Scheiber Lecture in Ocean Law and Policy Endowment

  • Supports an annual lecture organized by the school’s Law of the Sea Institute within the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment
  • The lecture recognizes the influential scholarship of Professor Emeritus Harry N. Scheiber in ocean law history and policy, and his late wife Jane L. Scheiber’s contributions to advancing the subject through the Institute’s conferences and publications
  • The Institute directors will consult with ocean law colleagues in selecting the lecturer each year

Spencer Pahlke Trial Advocacy Scholarship

  • Provides scholarships for J.D. students who show an interest in civil or criminal trial advocacy, with a preference to those who took part in activities such as mock trial in college or high school or who exhibit notable interest in law school trial competitions
  • Established by Spencer Pahlke ’07, head coach of Berkeley Law’s Trial Team
  • Prospective recipients will be identified, screened, and selected by the dean of admissions or a designee

Library Funds

  • The Thomas J. ’40 and Martha H. MacBride Faculty Library Fund provides online access to federal court records and briefs, electronic resources for criminal justice research, and print and e-books focusing on criminal justice and criminal law
  • The Charles J. McClain and Laurene Wu McClain Fund is an endowment supporting professional development for library staff

Go Back to School With Berkeley Law Executive Education!

Did you know that Berkeley Law now offers certificate courses for attorneys and legal professionals? Subjects include leadership, ESG, artificial intelligence, commercial contracts, and much more! Virtual and in-person options are available.