Updates from Development & Alumni Relations

Joyful Connections

Over the last weekend of September, Alumni Reunion Weekend returned as an in-person event for the first time since 2019, drawing a crowd back to Berkeley Law for the chance to reconnect with classmates and see what’s happening now.
Alumni celebrated with dinners, receptions, and tours of the school. They also had the chance to earn Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits through courses across a variety of topics, from the history and future of our Death Penalty Clinic to the legal thicket then ensnaring Twitter and Elon Musk.

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky taught his own CLE course recapping the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2021-22 term, and held a town hall meeting to hear from our graduates.

Law school students wearing party props for photo
Juan Cornejo ’92, Abraham Escareno ’12, Gloria Juarez, Irma Rodriguez Moisa ’92, Jeanette Escareno, and Alex Moisa ’92. Photo by Jim Block
law school students looking up to camera above them
2007 classmates (from left) Emily Proskine Hurd, Ilham Hosseini, Moira Smith, Jasmine Anderson, Corrin Drakulich, Jessica Yarnall Loarie, and Alison Watkins (foreground). Photo by Jim Block
4 law school students smiling
Jacqueline Alas ’17, Matt Flairty ’12, Sarah Axtell ’12, and Alex Stathopoulos ’12. Photo by Jim Block
2 law school students smiling towards each other
Janice Reicher ’12 and Nan Joesten ’97. Photo by Jim Block
Alumni of the school’s affinity groups also took the opportunity to gather. The reunion was particularly poignant for Asian American and Pacific Islander alumni, and those who were members of Berkeley Law’s Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) chapter, who met for the first time face to face since the denaming of Boalt Hall in January 2020.

APALSA-affiliated students and members of the Berkeley Law Asian American Alumni Association were active in the long process of responding to the discovery of the racist anti-Chinese writings of John Henry Boalt. John Kuo ’88 says the group reflected on the three years since their last meeting and the impactful work of Quyen Ta ’03 and the Alliance for Asian American Justice, as well as the school’s efforts to split from Boalt’s legacy.

“There’s still much to be done, but reconnecting with old friends in person and the camaraderie of our shared alumni experience buoyed us all,” he says. — Gwyneth K. Shaw

2 law school students laughing towards camera
1997 classmates Stacey Knox and Jerry Canada. Photo by Jim Block
law school students mid-jump laughing
2007 classmates John Le, Madelene Sun, Tim Yoo, Eric Ow, Arthur Liou, Tam Bui, Anne Shaver, Emily Bolt, and Jim Keenley. Photo by Jim Block
2 law school students
Quyen Ta ’03 and John Kuo ’88. Photo by Jim Block
4 law school students looking at each other for the camera
Richard Rahm ’87, WIlliam Bloch ’87, Avril Ussery Sisk ’87, and Rachel Corona. Photo by Jim Block
Save the Date!
Reconnect with classmates. Revitalize your law school friendships. Rediscover Berkeley Law. We look forward to seeing you September 22-23!
Alumni Reunion
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A $5.5 Million Gift for Criminal Justice

Berkeley Law recently received a $5.5 million gift that will create an additional faculty position at the school: The Barry Tarlow Chair in Criminal Justice.
Providing endowed support for a Chancellor’s Chair, which will be awarded to a tenured professor, the gift will expand the school’s influential teaching and research in the field.

“This will allow us to strengthen our already outstanding criminal justice faculty, which are widely regarded as among the very best in the country,” Dean Erwin Chemerinsky says. “Barry Tarlow was an eminent criminal defense attorney and I am thrilled that we will honor his legacy by having a permanent chair named in his memory.”

Barry Tarlow photo
QUITE A LEGACY: A new professorship will be named in honor of the late Barry Tarlow, a standout criminal defense attorney.
Berkeley Law’s faculty includes renowned criminologists, experts in domestic and international criminal law and criminal procedure, top practitioners, and leading scholars. Long at the forefront of research and advocacy guiding criminal justice reforms, the school offers students vital practical experience through its clinics, centers, practicums, Field Placement Program, and Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects.

Tarlow, who died in 2021, had designated fellow prominent criminal defense lawyer Marcia Morrissey as successor adviser to his charitable trust, which he wished to donate to one of four law schools and outlined various options. Deciding that a criminal justice chair at Berkeley Law “would best fulfill Barry’s intent,” Morrissey hopes to see some of its students follow in his footsteps and sustain the school’s tradition in the field.

“An advanced course in criminal law or a criminal law clinical program for those with an interest in this area … can be professionally life-changing,” she says. “And, hopefully, it will inspire students to participate in and generate meaningful change in the criminal justice system.”

A leading authority in the defense of RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) prosecutions, Tarlow was named a California Super Lawyer every year from 2005 to 2018, profiled among “Ten of the Best Winning Trial Lawyers” in America by the National Law Journal, and named the top “gunslinger” among Los Angeles County’s 40,000 lawyers by Los Angeles Magazine.

Tarlow also won a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers lifetime achievement award and the Century City Bar Association Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year Award, among many other honors. The author of over 325 articles and books dealing with criminal practice and procedure, he also represented numerous celebrities and was counsel in several appeals which had major implications for the criminal defense bar.

“When someone who has given so much of his life to the pursuit of criminal justice makes this kind of investment in the future of that struggle, it is an extraordinary event,” says Lance Robbins Professor of Criminal Justice Law Jonathan Simon ’87. “But this also comes at an extraordinary time when California is at the forefront of reform and Berkeley Law is an engine of new thinking in the field.” — Andrew Cohen

Fellowship on Many Levels

It started with three simple goals: Connect Berkeley Law’s Asian and Pacific Islander (API) alumni, honor deserving graduates, and provide financial support to public interest attorneys. Sixteen years later, the Dale Minami Public Interest Fellowship has become so much more.
Dale Minami dinner invitation on table
Photo by Misha Tsukerman ’16
“We have 1Ls making connections with people at firms that lead to job offers, connections from different classes leading to lateral movements and in-house offers, and friends getting to see each other every year at our annual gala,” says Bryan Springmeyer ’10. “Similar to myself, I’ve heard from others that they were inspired by their first gala to become more active in the community.”

An iconic 1971 Berkeley Law graduate, Minami has long pursued social justice for minorities and litigated major lawsuits to enforce civil rights. That list includes a leading role in overturning Korematsu v. United States 40 years after the Supreme Court upheld a conviction for refusing to obey exclusion orders aimed at Japanese Americans during World War II.

Co-founder of the Asian Law Caucus, the first nonprofit firm dedicated to API legal advocacy, Minami also helped start the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Asian Pacific Bar of California, and Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans. When class of 2009 members Vina Ha, Eunice Koo, and Daniel Kim hatched the fellowship idea and asked to name it after him, Minami was intrigued — but also skeptical.

“The call came out of the blue,” he says. “Students can easily lose interest in a project, so my thought was that they could help some students for a few years, then we’d all go away. I didn’t envision the longevity nor interest generated, but we’re still celebrating and giving grants.”

Springmeyer planned the second gala as a 2L, helped transition new event chairs the next year, and now coordinates the fellowship with Ha and current students. Many prominent alumni and law firm sponsors have supported the fellowship, which has built a $200,000 endowment with over $200,000 distributed to recipients.

“I was moved by the event and Dale’s career,” Springmeyer says. “It’s a lot of work by all parties involved, but seeing the success and helping provide financial support to public interest attorneys is really rewarding and inspiring.”

This latest gala on Feb. 24 honored California Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu ’86 and MacArthur Justice Center Supreme Court & Appellate Counsel Easha Anand ’14, and gave the annual fellowship funding to 3L Myka Yamasaki. Having led student initiatives focused on Native Pacific Islander rights and the creation of a 9th Circuit pro se immigrant guide, Yamasaki will join the Legal Aid Society of New York as a criminal defense attorney after graduating.

“It’s now challenging to fulfill your dreams of practicing public interest law because of the financial deterrent,” says Minami, who recalls paying just $342 a year for tuition. “So anything we can do to encourage students to enter this critical area of social justice work is fulfilling to me. The fellowship reaffirms our connection to Berkeley Law and each other.” — Andrew Cohen

(From left) Stephanie Clemente ’23, Dale Minami ’71, Angela Lim, Natasha Suterwala ’24, and Yvonne Lee enjoy the festivities at last year’s gala.
COMMUNITY CAUSE: (From left) Stephanie Clemente ’23, Dale Minami ’71, Angela Lim, Natasha Suterwala ’24, and Yvonne Lee enjoy the festivities at last year’s gala. Photo by Misha Tsukerman ’16
Students from Class of '87
Photo by Jim Block

Class of ’87 Offers a Hand Up

When Kenton King ’87 and fellow members of his class reunion committee started planning their milestone gathering for 2022, the conversation repeatedly turned to the enormous gap between what they paid to get a Berkeley Law degree and what today’s students owe.
“We all recognized how we were huge beneficiaries of a state-funded legal education when we were in law school,” King says. “Tuition was $750 per semester. We understood that the burden is now substantial — and sometimes, without some form of aid, out of reach.”

To give back, and help current and future students enjoy some of the benefits they shared, the committee members decided on funding a class scholarship. Pledges exceed $360,000 so far, including a seed gift from King and substantial pledges from other members. Any Berkeley Law student with a demonstrated financial need will be eligible for the aid.

King says he’s long felt moved to give because of Berkeley Law’s public mission, diversity, and the “transformative impact” it had on him. He fondly remembers the influence of Professor Melvin Eisenberg, and the many great interactions with other students, from intellectually vibrant discussions over finer points of the law to joking around over a Zachary’s pizza.

“Our tuition was probably the best ROI I ever made and it feels only right to give back,” King says. “More financial aid and scholarships are required to allow Berkeley Law to continue to fulfill its public mission, and our gifts can play an impactful role.”

Classmate Dana Shilling Rieger agrees. She remembers how the class learned during orientation it had the highest percentage of women students in school history. Three years packed with a rewarding variety of classes and activities “gave me the confidence to think I could do a number of different things with my degree, and I have!” says Rieger, whose experiences include time as a labor and employment litigator to commercial real estate and trust transactions, along with pro bono work as a patient advocate and as a board member of her children’s public schools.

“Thirty-five years is a long time from graduation,” she says. “Participating in this fund seemed a way to say Berkeley Law is still relevant to my life.”

Dean of Admissions Kristin Theis-Alvarez says supporting financial aid programs is one of the most impactful ways alumni can help the school. In the last several years, Berkeley Law has maintained both need- and merit-based aid, growing its number of scholarship programs.

“Our alumni community is an integral part of the network that attracts, recruits, and supports students,” she says. “These are now signature initiatives, and they are in large part how we’ve maintained both excellence and access.”

Donations of all sizes matter, Rieger notes, helping to build the tradition of public school alumni giving — and to improve lives.

“It would be wonderful if all students were able to choose careers that are personally and professionally rewarding, even if those choices might not be as lucrative as others,” she says. “If we can, let’s help mitigate crushing student debt for Berkeley Law students.” — Gwyneth K. Shaw

Giving Back While Looking Forward

From geography and demographics to practice areas and pro bono pursuits, the Berkeley Law Alumni Association reflects the school’s vast universe.
Irma Rodriguez Moisa
Noah Ickowitz
Armilla Staley Ngomo
FRESH FACES: (From top) Irma Rodriguez Moisa ’92, Noah Ickowitz ’17, and Armilla Staley-Ngomo ’08 are the newest members of the Berkeley Law Alumni Association’s board of directors.
Two “new” members are back: Federal Judge Charles Breyer ’66 and Skadden partner Kenton King ’87 return to the board of directors after prior stints, joining rookies Irma Rodriguez Moisa ’92, Noah Ickowitz ’17, and Armilla Staley-Ngomo ’08.

The partner in charge of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo’s main office in Cerritos, Calif., Rodriguez Moisa has increased her activity with the school since serving on her 30-year reunion committee last year.

“I had tons of fun reconnecting with my fellow classmates,” she says. “I’m inspired by what they have accomplished.”

Named a Super Lawyer by Southern California Super Lawyers magazine every year since 2004, Rodriguez Moisa believes Berkeley Law graduates “are the most interesting, innovative and community-oriented alumni of all law schools across the country … I wanted to work with this talented and diverse group.”

A litigation associate at O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, Ickowitz co-founded Berkeley Law’s first regional alumni chapter there and has spearheaded many community-building events.

“Reminding alumni about how Berkeley Law can still impact their lives, and how they can still impact Berkeley Law, is most rewarding,” says Ickowitz, who has participated in mock and real interviews of students, informally mentored some at his firm, and promoted fundraising campaigns. “As government funding continues to dwindle, instilling the importance of alumni giving becomes more and more important to sustaining the law school.”

Serving on the alumni association board is a natural fit for Ickowitz, who was co-president of the Student Association at Berkeley Law and received the school’s Student Service Award.

“Alumni engagement is more than just a line on a bio,” he says. “It keeps Berkeley Law as a core part of our alumni’s lives.”

Staley-Ngomo, recruited to join the board by friend and classmate Monique Liburd ’08 and fellow Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia ’95, remained closely involved with the school while living in the Bay Area for two years after graduating. She attended Admitted Students Weekend and Alumni Reunion events, stayed connected with Law Students of African Descent, and was a panelist during For People of Color’s law school seminars.

Now, Staley-Ngomo welcomes a new chance to help chart Berkeley Law’s future.

“It’s important to be an engaged alum for mentoring, networking, and fundraising purposes,” she says. “Current law students depend on alumni to serve as mentors as they navigate the legal field. And the school needs financial support in order to implement plans, recruit stellar professors, and continue offering amazing courses, clinics, and events.”

As for the top priorities, the newcomers sound similar notes: “Recruiting the best and the brightest,” Rodriguez Moisa says, “and raising enough funds to keep our premier law school affordable so that our graduates can pursue the legal career of their choice.” — Andrew Cohen