Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA
Southwestern Reporter

May 2007

In This Issue:



LSSSE Survey Participation Increases

Southwestern is pleased to announce that the final response rate for the 2007 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) is 57%, exceeding last year's results of 53%. The faculty and staff greatly appreciate the efforts of students who responded to this year's survey. Southwestern will receive a comprehensive report from LSSSE in late summer and will be able to use the data to continue to generate ideas on how to better serve students.

Graduating Students - Check Out a New Resource for Bar Exam Tips

Valuable information to help you prepare for the California Bar Exam has been added to the Bar Exam Resources section of Southwestern's website. Included in this section is a list of faculty who will be available to answer questions over the summer, listed by exam category and area of law.

"Best First-Year Moot Court Program in the Nation"

Michelle Raji and Heshanthi Rohanath take top Oralist Honors and Shara Davenport Named Best Writer

(From left) Hon. Wilson, Hon. Kistler, Michelle Raji, Hon. Levinson, Heshanthi Rohanath and Hon. Butler
Hon. Steven Levinson, Associate Justice for the Supreme Court of Hawaii, commented that Southwestern has, "by far, the best first-year Moot Court program in the nation."
His remark came at the conclusion of the law school's 2007 Intramural Moot Court Competition. Finalists Michelle Raji and Heshanthi Rohanath took turns arguing their cases before the final bench of four jurists, answering their rapid-fire questions. Earlier, both advocates had spent the April afternoon at the Richard S. Chambers United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena triumphing in their respective semi-final rounds.

Shara Davenport
In the end, Raji was selected First Place Oralist and Rohanath took Second. Later, at the Awards Reception on Southwestern's campus, Shara Davenport was named First Place Writer.

During the final oral arguments, the clock ran out for Raji, a representative for the fictitious state of Westmoreland, but the bench wanted to keep it going. "I know we're over time," Justice Levinson said. "But we're having fun." Rohanath was given another moment to reiterate her arguments as well. All four members of the final bench made it clear that both advocates did an outstanding job of arguing their cases and the decision was incredibly close. Read more.


Dorsey High School Students Get a Lesson in Law at Southwestern

As part of Southwestern's minority outreach efforts, an eager contingent of students from Dorsey High School spent a late-April morning at the law school learning about negotiation. Professors Isabelle Gunning, Karen Smith, Katherine Sheehan, and Laura Dym Cohen, along with students from the Muslim, Black, and Latino Law Students Associations, helped organize the event. "It came from recognizing the need for more minority students in law school," third-year day student A.D. Williams said. "The goal of the program is to give these students a different image of lawyers than what they are used to seeing in the hope they realize that they can pursue law as a career regardless of their circumstances. Its one thing for the kids to hear about it, but the impact is so much greater when they see law students who look, dress, and talk just like them."


The minority outreach program aims to connect with high schools (and community colleges), especially those with a high percentage of minority and working class students, and excite them about law school generally and Southwestern in particular, Professor Gunning explained.

"I hope that the students will feel that law school is something that they are capable of doing and something at which they will excel," Professor Gunning said. "In addition, the high school students see our law school students of all colors and backgrounds working together successfully." Read more.


Honors Programs Announce 2007-2008 Leadership

Southwestern congratulates the following students on their appointments to leadership positions in two of the school's honors programs:

Moot Court Board of Governors
Nick Francescon (Chair)
Lindsay Harrell
Zack Levine
Kim Rocque
Jenny Rodriguez
Julia Romano

Interscholastic Trial Advocacy Program
Board of Governors

Doug Baek - Chair
Andrew Pongracz - Academics
Bahar Geslin - Alumni Relations & Special Events
Marie Maurice - Competitions

Students Elect 2007-2008 SBA Executive Board

Following elections held last month, the Student Bar Association announced next year's governing board. The elected officers are:

President - Robert Glassman
Vice President (Day) - Mitch Federer
Vice President (Evening) - Nicole Pierson
Treasurer - Heshanti Rohanath
Secretary - Jessica Munoz
ABA Representative - Matt Lane

SBA Honors Students and Organizations with Awards

Last month, at the Annual Student Awards Banquet, the following "SBA Awards" were presented in recognition of outstanding service during the 2006-2007 school year:

SBA Student Organization of the Year Award
Entertainment and Sports Law Society
SBA New Student Organization of the Year Award
Tax Law Society
SBA Staff Member of the Year Award
Julia Romano
SBA Class Representative of the Year Award
Charles Fairchild

Law Review & Law Journal Announce Write-on Competition for 2007

Don't miss the opportunity to become a member of Law Review or Law Journal! The Southwestern University Law Review and Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas 2007 Write-on Competition packet will be available Friday, July 27 at the Library Circulation Desk or online. The deadline to submit is Monday, August 6. More information will be mailed to eligible students and is also available online. Questions should be directed to Law Review, Law Journal or the Student Affairs Office.



Ten Questions for Professor Dennis Yokoyama

Q: You served as director of the legal writing program for the past 12 years. What was the most significant part of your experience?
A: The most significant part of my experience was the relationships I developed with the research faculty and the LAWS faculty. They are a tremendous group of teachers who are committed to the program and who have dedicated themselves to their students. It has been a wonderful collaboration.

Q: Although this year's Moot Court problem was developed and written collaboratively, you were the principal author the previous eleven years. What things do you consider when you are writing the problem?

A: The spring semester of the LAWS course is one of the highlights of the first-year student experience, and so the Moot Court problem has to be well-thought through. It has to be interesting for students, teachers, and judges alike. A significant challenge in developing the problem arises because the problem has to have two issues, as students pair up into teams, with each student responsible for one of the issues. Finding two issues that are compatible with each other and that are nearly equal in complexity is difficult. Once I've found the two issues, I start constructing the record. I draft the pleadings and documents, deposition excerpts, and anything else needed to complete the factual and legal record upon which the problem is based. I've always liked this part of the process because I can get creative in inserting, shaping, and slanting the facts in obvious and subtle ways so that the students really have to dig into and think carefully about the record to make their arguments and to respond to the other side's arguments.

Q: What is the most important piece of legal writing advice you would give to students?
A: Understand the task in front of you; understand your goal; and understand your audience. Then shape your writing to accomplish your goal. Give yourself as much time as possible to review and revise your writing.

Q: How did your previous work as a counselor and therapist prepare you for a career in law?
A: Both counseling and lawyering share the goal of helping people, and both fields require understanding and working with people in order to help them as much as possible. Because of my education and training in psychology and counseling, I think I have become a better listener. Effective lawyers are good listeners and they are adept at getting people to reveal what they know and even what they feel. Counselors, therapists, and lawyers also need to be effective communicators. It's important to communicate with people in a way that makes sense to them.

Q: Talk a bit about the recent awards you've received from APALSA and the Moot Court Honors Program.
A: I was and still am incredibly humbled and honored to have received APALSA's first Lifetime Achievement Award this past month. Going forward, I hope I can live up to it. I am very lucky to have worked with outstanding APALSA presidents and board members over the past 15 years. Every APALSA board has worked hard to serve not just its membership but to extend its help to every student and to also serve the law school community generally.

Receiving a dedication from the Moot Court Honors Program this year was also a great honor. I am always impressed by what great advocates represent Southwestern. Every team has to do a tremendous amount of work for its competition, and the students' overall commitment to the program has inspired me to do as much as I could to help make the first-year intramural competition as good as possible. I've worked closely with every Moot Court board since I arrived at Southwestern 15 years ago. The board and I, along with substantial help from many administrators, have worked together on the intramural competition for the past 12 years. I have participated in the Moot Court Boot Camp, dating back to its first session some 14 or 15 years ago. Overall, I have greatly enjoyed working with Moot Court.
Q: In 2000, you were honored for Excellence in Teaching. In your opinion, what makes an outstanding law professor?
A: We have a great faculty at Southwestern, and I was thrilled to have received the Excellence in Teaching Award. I think teachers have to adopt a classroom style that is true to who they are because ultimately they reveal themselves to their students anyway. For my civil procedure class, I try to keep in mind that I have first-year students, that law school is stressful, and that civil procedure concepts are difficult and foreign to many students. On top of all that, the course covers a lot of topics. I want my students to be relaxed in class and not tight, because anxiety is counterproductive to learning. So, I try not to take myself too seriously, but I want my students to take the material seriously and prepare for class. Students need to have some confidence in their professors. They need to know that the professor is on their side, has faith in them and really cares that the students grasp the material. Gaining the students' confidence also means that the professor has demonstrated mastery over the material. I prepare for every class like it's the last class I'm going to teach, because the truth is that's probably the only class in the semester that I will be covering a certain topic or point or case. As I'm preparing, I try to visualize how the class will progress, what I must emphasize, and what concepts may prove to be difficult to convey. Of course, experience comes in handy, and communicating effectively is an important key. I find repetition works well, and I will reiterate major themes, concepts, and rules several times throughout the course. 

Q: What are some of your interests outside the legal profession?
A: I like to cook. I find cooking creative and relaxing. And besides, we've got to eat anyway. I also like working in the garden and going to Dodger games.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: I like an assortment of music (rock, pop, 60s-70s Motown, 80s new wave, hip-hop, etc.). I really like the Beatles. Although they recorded as a group for only about eight years, their recordings form an impressive body of work. Their albums were consistently excellent and their music evolved in interesting and complex ways. They experimented with different musical genres and recording techniques, and their experimentation combined with their great musicianship (Ringo, by the way, is an incredibly under-rated drummer) produced music that was unique, varied, and, for me, deeply satisfying. Let me also add that I like listening to and watching comedians. They walk the high wire every time they take the stage, and they have to be confident about their material and in tune with the audience.

Q: What are some of your favorite legal themed movies/TV shows?
A: I pretty much like them all. I like all the different "Law and Order" shows. I like the corny, old-fashioned ones like "Matlock" and "Perry Mason." Whenever there's a hot legal or political issue, I like watching the pundits in action.

Q: As President-Elect of the Japanese American Bar Association, what are some of your goals for the organization?
A: I am greatly honored to be JABA's President-Elect this year, and to be its 32nd President in 2008. JABA has a long history of service to the community. I want to help JABA continue its many activities and programs. JABA has established a Judicial Candidate Mentoring Program in which JABA members interested in becoming a judge or commissioner can be mentored by judicial officers. JABA has created a Diversity Committee, which is dedicated to creating partnerships with government agencies and private organizations in promoting diversity across the legal profession. The Committee also directs its efforts in motivating and educating students about the law and career opportunities in the legal field to encourage those with diverse backgrounds to enter the legal profession. More information about JABA can be found at JABA membership is open to anyone with interests and ties to the Japanese American community and who want to discuss issues, network, and serve the community. And membership is free to law students and new admittees.


  • Panel Moderator, "Video in the Digital Age," Hot Topics in Intellectual Property, Duke University (remarks will be published in the DUKE LAW AND TECHNOLOGY REVIEW)
  • Moderator, "The Court System and the Media," Armenian Bar Association Annual Meeting, Santa Monica
  • Panelist, "Surgery on Dinosaurs: The Future of the Media Lawyer," 20th Annual Media and the Law Seminar, Lawrence, KS
  • Organizer, Moderator and Commentator, "International and Foreign Law in Courts: The U.S. Controversy and the Foreign Perspectives," Spring Meeting, ABA Section of International Law, Washington, D.C.
  • Speaker, "The International and National Legal Framework for Evaluating Anti-Terrorism Strategies: An Analysis of Critical Issues," Department of Public Policy, School of Public Affairs, UCLA
  • Speaker, "Workshop for Latin American Law Professors," Latin American Law Workshop, Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies, Washington University Law School



Professor Tracy L. Turner Appointed Director of LAWS Program

Tracy L. Turner, Associate Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS), has been appointed as director of the LAWS Program. She succeeds Professor Dennis Yokoyama who directed Southwestern's legal research and writing program for the past 12 years and will now concentrate his teaching efforts in civil procedure, remedies and related areas (see interview).

According to Dean Bryant G. Garth, "Professor Turner brings outstanding academic and professional experience to the classroom and was instrumental in the transformation of Southwestern's legal research and writing course into our new cutting-edge Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills curriculum." Read more.


Southwestern Cited in New Book on Legal Education

Southwestern is featured in a new book Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass) by William M. Sullivan, Anne Colby, Judith Welch Wegner, Lloyd Bond, and Lee S. Shulman. It explores the Carnegie Foundation's study of American and Canadian law schools, where extensive field work was conducted during the 1999-2000 academic year. Southwestern's new first-year curriculum is cited as an example program along with some high profile schools in the text. The back cover also features the following quote from Dean Garth, "Educating Lawyers is no doubt the best work on the analysis and reform of legal education that I have ever read. There is a call for deep changes in the way law is taught, and I believe that it will be a landmark in the history of legal education."

Hot Off the Press and Straight to Your Computer

Soon to hit a mailbox near you, the latest issue of the law school's magazine swlawnow includes features on the people, programs and events of Southwestern. Copies of the magazine will be mailed to students and alumni shortly, and is also available online at



Southwestern and West Legalworks to Co-host International IT Law Summit

What internet issues are keeping Chief Privacy Officers up at night? Can you successfully negotiate the local laws and hidden complexities in an international outsourcing project? How do you revitalize a failing large-scale IT project?
These questions, along with some of the most important legal trends, the newest business initiatives and cutting-edge technology advances will be explored at the International IT Law Summit 2007, presented by Southwestern and West Legalworks™. The two-day conference will take place on campus June 7-8.

Information technology has been the driving force behind U.S. economic growth, adding $2 trillion a year to the economy over the last decade, according to a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Yet, with the rush to acquire and develop the latest and greatest technology, companies have not fully contemplated the complex and continuously-evolving legal and regulatory issues looming over their deals. From data privacy protection to IP licensing to IT insurance to patent prosecution, attorneys must be equipped with an up to the minute understanding of the law and the latest strategies and practical approaches for successfully managing, enforcing and protecting information nationally and globally. Southwestern and West Legalworks have created this one-of-a-kind event to help professionals optimize IT deals and be better prepared to identify and solve the pressing legal concerns of deal-making in today's whirlwind technology arena. For more information, contact Professor Michael Scott, and to register for the summit, call (800) 308-1700 or (212) 337-8444, email or visit



Alumni Reception Pays Tribute to Alumni, Faculty and Students

(from left) Michael J. Downer, Hon. David S. Wesley, Dean Bryant G. Garth and Professor Karen Smith
The Southwestern community celebrated the Alumni Association's 20th Annual Awards Recognition Reception on Thursday, April 19 with a silent and live auction. This year's honorees included "Alumnus of the Year," Michael J. Downer '81, Senior Vice President, Fund Business Management and Coordinator of Legal Compliance at Capital Research and Management; "Outstanding Judicial Officer," Hon. David S. Wesley '72, Supervising Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Criminal Division; and "Outstanding Friend," Professor Karen Smith.

Joshua David Buck and Greg Mohrman
In addition, two students were presented with scholarships during the annual event, which is held to raise money for the scholarship fund. This year's recipients, first-year SCALE student Joshua David Buck and second-year day student Greg Mohrman, were selected based on their active involvement in community and law school activities while upholding academic excellence.


Southwestern Alumna is Trump's New "Apprentice"

Stefanie Schaeffer '99 graduated from the law school's two-year SCALE® program

Southwestern alumna Stefanie Schaeffer has been chosen as "The Apprentice." She won the sixth season of the NBC hit reality show and a new job working for mogul Donald Trump, who said to her during the show's live finale at the Hollywood Bowl, "You're obviously brilliant based on your academic background."

Schaeffer, a 32-year-old L.A. trial attorney, attributes much of her success on the show to her legal education at Southwestern. She graduated in 1999 from the law school's accelerated SCALE program. Read more.


"W.A.Y." - Who Are You & Why Are You here?

This Month: Second-year Day Student Thomas Cassaro
Second-year day student Thomas Cassaro is involved in finding methods to resolve many issues in a city as large and diverse as Los Angeles, from making neighborhoods safe to finding ways to make living near work affordable. "I'm interested in things like how to make education work better in a city where there is a lot of potential but lots of problems," he said. With that impetus, he established the Public Policy Group (PPG) at Southwestern to focus on people, agencies, and tools that can help people make positive changes in their lives. As president of PPG, one of his goals is to publish a journal that will serve as a public resource.

Cassaro's path to law school has been far from traditional. Born and raised in Chicago, he initially worked as a clerk at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and attended classes at DePaul University. But one especially vicious winter in the mid-90s inspired him to move to Los Angeles's mild climate. One of his new roommates in L.A. was a chef who cooked for touring bands. Cassaro had worked as a short-order cook in high school, and soon he too went on the road as a sous-chef. "It was a great time. I traveled extensively," he said. He first toured with the Rolling Stones. He also prepared food for Tori Amos, Phil Collins and Sarah McLachlan and learned to cook regional cuisine, depending on where they were.

Several years later it got more difficult to live on the road, especially after he adopted his pound-dog, Paco. Another friend connected him to a similar job for movie catering, which wouldn't require as much travel. Cassaro fed the casts and crews on the sets of several films from "Castaway" to "The Haunting" to "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." He also went on to complete his B.A. degree in history at UCLA. During this time he became involved with the community, working on social justice issues for Los Angeles Friends of Tibet, where he was honored as 1999 Volunteer of the Year. A Santa Monica judge he met through this organization inspired him to pursue a law degree.

For the coming academic year, in addition to his involvement in the PPG, Cassaro will serve as president of NALSA, although he isn't Native American. "My grandfather was a Native American history aficionado and it was one of my focuses at UCLA," he said. "Plus, I had Professor Riley for Property during my first year at Southwestern, and we really hit it off.



A selection of scholarships and essay contests are available in the Financial Aid Office (W102), on the bulletin board in the Westmoreland basement and online.


Please note: The information regarding scholarships and essay contests on Southwestern's website provides a list for informational purposes only. Students interested in applying for any scholarship should contact the sponsoring organization directly for specific details and deadlines. External sites are provided for informational purposes only and are not endorsed by Southwestern.






18 Final Exams end, Spring Semester ends
 BLSA Awards Banquet
20 Commencement
22 LLBA Career Path Panel, 6:30 p.m., MALDEF
22-23 SCALE Moot Court Oral Arguments
28 Memorial Day Holiday - No Classes
30 First Day of Classes, Summer Session begins

June   7-8 International IT Law Summit
Introduction to Legal Writing begins
SCALE I Orientation and Classes begin


  4 Fourth of July Holiday - No Classes
5 No Evening Classes
 SCALE II Classes Begin
7 Saturday classes meet
13 Introduction to Legal Writing ends
Last Day of Summer Classes
21-25 Summer Final Exams
25 Summer Session ends
27 Write-on Competition begins


  6 Write-on Competition ends
Fall Semester begins; Orientation and First-Year LAWS Classes begin
20 First day of Upper Division classes

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Southwestern Law School is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is fully approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (321 N. Clark Street, 21st Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60654, Tel: 312.988.6738). Since 1911, Southwestern has served the public as a nonprofit, nonsectarian educational institution. Southwestern does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, or prior military service in connection with admission to the school, or in the administration of any of its educational, employment, financial aid, scholarship or student activity programs. Non-discrimination has been the policy of Southwestern since its founding.