On a sunny Thursday afternoon in late April, the Honorable Edward J. Davila, US District Court, Northern District of California, called a meeting to order in a classroom in Charney Hall. Judge Davila was not presiding over a hearing or a trial, but his first meeting as Chair of the Santa Clara Law Advisory Board.
The Law Advisory Board, launched in 2017 under the leadership of Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, is an advisory and service organization whose members serve as volunteers and ambassadors for the Law School. The Law Advisory Board (LAB) grew out of the Board of Visitors, a similar group that had existed for many years.
“As Dean, I benefited greatly from the advice, ideas, and support of various alumni and friends,” said Kloppenberg. “Several years into my first term, it seemed like the right time to assemble this new Law Advisory Board as an official, active advisory group to help us address the many challenges that lie ahead in legal education.”
“Our vision called for a fairly lean membership, with defined responsibilities such as meeting attendance, committee work, and annual financial commitments,” she continued. Kloppenberg assembled a small group of Board of Visitors members to brainstorm ideas and draft a charter for the new Law Advisory Board, which had its first meeting in April 2017.
That working group became the LAB’s Executive Committee, with Colleen T. Davies-Ronan JD ’83 as its inaugural Chair and Paul (Chip) L. Lion III JD ’82 as its Vice-Chair. The Executive Committee also included Judge Edward Davila, Donald Eaton BS ’59, JD ’64, Andrew Kryder BS ’74, JD/MBA ’77 and Dr. Carol Stratford JD ’95.
Drawing upon each member’s experience serving on other non-profit boards, the Executive Committee drafted a charter for the Law Advisory Board calling for at least two full board meetings a year, the creation of standing and ad hoc committees, defined terms of service and commitments for annual donations to the institution. The LAB joins with the other governing bodies across the Santa Clara University campus with similar charters, from the Boards of Trustees, Fellows and Regents to comparable advisory boards for most of the SCU colleges and Centers of Distinction.
Kloppenberg and the Executive Committee then invited a diverse group of attorneys, judges, corporate executives, and community leaders to join the new advisory board. Now in its third year, the Law Advisory Board hopes to build on its foundation and continue to grow in size and scope under the direction of its newly installed Chair.
“In my legal career as a practitioner and now as a judge, I have observed and admired the high quality of students and lawyers from Santa Clara Law,” said Judge Davila. “Students leave Santa Clara Law with an excellent education and a commitment to enhance the administration of justice in their practice,” he continued. “Though I did not attend Santa Clara Law, I am honored and privileged to participate on the LAB to help continue the Law School’s growth and rich tradition of excellence.”
For some, serving on the Law Advisory Board offers an opportunity to volunteer and share their expertise with the Law School. For others, it is a chance to give back to the institution that has given them so much in their professional careers, as well as to help spread the word about the excellence of Santa Clara Law graduates to employers.
“I joined the Law Advisory Board so that I can be in a position to create opportunities for Santa Clara Law students to succeed in the legal marketplace,” said Seth Gottlieb JD ’07, a partner at Cooley LLP. After practicing law for more than a decade and interviewing and hiring dozens of students and lawyers, Gottlieb has a good handle on the skill set that a Santa Clara Law graduate offers.
“They bring a pragmatic approach to the practice which, when combined with their tremendous work ethic and personable nature, really serves clients well,” he said. “So I know that, when I hire a Santa Clara Law grad, I am going to get a very well-rounded lawyer. And I want to make sure employers throughout the Bay Area also know that.”
At its recent April meeting, the LAB received updates from Santa Clara University Interim Provost and Santa Clara Law Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, Interim Dean Anna Han, Associate Dean Michael Flynn, and Professor Laura Norris. Among the topics discussed was SCU Law Eats, the student organization formed several years ago to address issues of food insecurity and nutrition among law students. LAB members were so moved by the discussion that they created a mini-campaign to help fund SCU Law Eats for the coming school year and thus far have individually pledged more than $29,000 to the organization.
In addition to fundraising initiatives, the Law Advisory Board members serve the Law School in several ways:
- Advise on key initiatives which support its mission, vision, goals and overall strategic direction and provide leadership and service for the projects that support these key initiatives;
- Provide leadership and service time for strategic fundraising priorities including scholarships, programs, and capital projects;
- Serve as a bridge to the legal and business community of Silicon Valley, the public sector and beyond, and advocate for the importance of a holistic legal education that embodies the Jesuit mission of service to humanity;
- Participate in activities involving students, faculty, and staff that increase the visibility and/or reputation of Santa Clara Law in the community and beyond.