Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA
Southwestern Reporter

Spring 2013, Number 2

Susan Westerberg Prager Appointed Dean of Southwestern Law School

Susan PragerSusan Westerberg Prager, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and former dean of UCLA School of Law, has been named Dean and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Law School. Her five-year term will begin in Fall 2013. Already a trailblazer many times over, Prager will be the first woman to serve as dean in the law school's 100+-year history.

In announcing the appointment, Board Chair Thomas Hoberman said, "The Board considered Dean Prager's stellar credentials and outstanding national reputation in the legal academy and higher education, her pragmatic and inspired vision for our law school, and the extremely enthusiastic support voiced by members of the Southwestern community. We are delighted that Dean Prager will be joining us this Fall." Read more.


Graduating Students Honored to be Commencement Speaker and Singer

Commencement Speaker and SingerAt Southwestern's 98th Commencement Ceremony on May 12 at the Shrine Auditorium, part-time evening student Aaron Abergel will deliver the student commencement address and full-time day student Kristina Smith will sing the national anthem. Read more.


First-year Students Continue to Impress Judges in the Triad of Annual LAWS Competitions

Intramural FinalistsYear after year, judges comment on the intelligence, poise and preparedness of the first-year law students who participate in Southwestern's intramural advocacy competitions. The leading jurists from local, state and federal courts have come to expect a level of skill and professionalism that matches - and in some cases exceeds - the quality of arguments they regularly hear in their courtrooms. This year's outstanding cadre of 1L advocates did not disappoint.

The culminating activity of Southwestern's unique three-track Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS) program enabled first-year law students to participate in and receive recognition for excellence in appellate (moot court), negotiation or trial advocacy. Prominent members of the bench and bar served as judges for the final rounds in all three tracks. Read More.

Intramural Competition's Top Writers Honored for Impressive Work

As a part of this year's LAWS Intramural Competition, a special reception was held on April 21 to honor those students identified as the top writers. Out of the 340 briefs submitted by the first-year students, 12 were selected to receive Outstanding Brief Writer awards and 26 were identified for Honorable Mention Brief Writer honors.

During the informal reception's program, Professor Tracy Turner, Director of LAWS, said the students being recognized "went above and beyond what was even necessary for a good grade." She reminded them, "Don't let your LAWS class end here - keep enhancing your writing skills," as she emphasized that the skills they honed and should continue to refine will set them apart in the profession.

Shinaan KrawkowskyThe afternoon's keynote speaker, Shinaan Krakowsky '81, was thrilled to be a part of recognizing the importance of legal writing and honoring this year's writers. "Writing is something that is extraordinarily important in your career," he said. Himself a past winner of Southwestern's intramural competition, he went on to stress that writing and oral advocacy are definitely different skills, but "writing is the foundation of all of that." Read more.

Southwestern TAHP Team Finishes in Top Four at National Competition

2013 American Association for Justice (AAJ) National Student Trial Advocacy Competition TeamAt the 2013 American Association for Justice (AAJ) National Student Trial Advocacy Competition in New Orleans, Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) team delivered an impressive performance, finishing in one of the top four spots out of the 250 teams that competed.

After five rounds of competition putting on full trials - complete with openings, closings, direct and cross examinations, motions, and objections - Southwestern's regional championship team of Mackenzie Brown, Jahmy Graham, Michelle Henderson and Christine Wood advanced to the quarterfinals and then to the semifinals at the national competition. Read More.

Southwestern's Moot Court Team Performs Well in International Competition

Moot Court Price TeamWhen it comes to appellate advocacy, Southwestern knows how to make an impression all the way across the Atlantic. On a trip to Oxford, England, to compete in the international rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court Programme, Southwestern's Moot Court team of Matthew Alsberg, Isaiah Costas-Barofsky, Christopher Lloyd and Almara Sepanian earned distinction as semifinalists and won First Place Brief. As the recipient of the First Place brief award, the team's briefs (one written for the Applicant, the other for the Respondent) will be published and publicly available on the Oxford website for future competitors to use as a model.

Forty-one teams qualified for the International Rounds out of more than 100 teams that competed in regional competitions worldwide. At the international competition, Southwestern competed against teams from Croatia, Lithuania, England, South Africa and two teams from the United States. Southwestern defeated, with a sweep of all points available, the Americas Regional champions, Brooklyn Law School, as well as the European Regional champions, University of Zagreb, Croatia. In the semifinals, Southwestern lost in a close match against Regent University. Read More.


Marcus Williams Appointed Lieutenant Governor of ABA Law Student Division

Marcus WilliamsSecond-year day student Marcus E. Williams has been appointed the 2013-2014 Lt. Governor for Student Bar Association Presidents of the ABA Law Student Division, 9th Circuit. In this role, he will facilitate communications between SBA Presidents from the 9th Circuit, coordinate meet and greets with them, and likely travel to other schools as an ambassador to encourage SBA involvement.

"Serving as Lt. Governor will provide Marcus with a broad range of functions and experience," Assistant Dean Robert Mena said. "Southwestern is proud that our students continue to be active in the leadership of the ABA Law Student Division. We're so happy for Marcus, and we know he will do a tremendous job in this role." Read More.

Jonathan Evans Elected Attorney General of NBLSA

Jonathan EvansSouthwestern PLEAS student Jonathan Evans has been elected to serve as Attorney General to the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) Board for the 2013-2014 academic year. In this position, he will research legal issues facing the African-American community, prepare memoranda to increase awareness for NBLSA members, and prepare amicus curiae briefs to support cases affecting the African American Community. Additionally, he will be responsible for planning NBLSA's participation in the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Conference and planning for Hill Day, each of which will involve coordination with members of Congress to identify germane issues.

Evans currently serves as NBLSA's judicial advocacy specialist, a position that reports to the National AG. He worked on NBLSA's amicus briefs this year in Fisher v. University of Texas and Shelby County v. Holder. He also assisted in the preparation of a white paper on "Stand Your Ground" laws. As NBLSA AG, he plans to continue with advocacy in these key areas: fostering diversity in higher education, protecting voter rights and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. His personal goal is to help increase the number of African-American males in law school through the promotion of positive relationships during early education. Read More.

Four Southwestern Students Win Corporate Counsel Scholarships

Southwestern students won four out of the six Chapter Diversity Scholarships recently awarded to 2013 graduating seniors by the Association of Corporate Counsel, Southern California Chapter (ACC-SoCal). Jennifer Allen, Lakeshia Dorsey, Jennifer C. Duval and Christine Nicole Wood were selected for the special scholarships that provide free tuition to a BAR-BRI bar review course in preparation for the California Bar exam. ACC-SoCal selected the honorees based on diversity, academic accomplishment, high moral character and financial need.

Southwestern Celebrates Students' Public Service

Hon. Terry B. FriedmanTaking a break from studying, over 250 students were invited to join Dean Parrish, faculty, staff and supervising attorneys from the community at a luncheon to honor and congratulate them for the impressive pro bono legal services they provided to the community during the year. The program included a keynote address by the Hon. Terry B. Friedman, a retired Los Angeles County Superior Court judge and former Executive Director of Bet Tzedek.

Since its founding, Southwestern has held public interest as a central component of its curriculum and philosophy, and encourages public service through a wide spectrum of programs, courses, activities and individual pursuits. This year, Southwestern students collectively provided more than 10,000 hours of pro bono service under the auspices of the law school's Public Service Program. Fifty-seven graduating students received signed letters of recognition from the Dean and special stoles to wear at graduation for volunteering 75 hours or more of their time; their law school transcripts will also carry a formal notation of "Public Service Distinction." In addition, 65 continuing students who volunteered 25 hours or more this academic year received congratulatory letters from the Dean. Read More.

Law Review and Moot Court Tie to Win Annual Honors Program Members' Challenge

Congratulations to the members of the Southwestern Law Review and Moot Court Honors Program, the 2013 winners of Southwestern's annual Honors Program Members' Challenge. The challenge is designed to help Southwestern reconnect specifically with those alumni who participated in Law Review, Law Journal, Moot Court or the Trial Advocacy Honors Program from the class of 1995 to the most recent class. It also gives alumni the opportunity to support Southwestern's Annual Fund in an entertaining way - no matter the dollar amount.

Determined by percentage, the program that could attract the largest pool of alumni to donate was named the winner - and this year, two programs took that title. In total, over 200 alumni participated in this year's challenge, raising more than $13,000 for the Annual Fund, which goes to help support the law school's initiatives, including the honors programs themselves. The Institutional Advancement Office would like to extend its appreciation to all the students and alumni who participated and made this year's challenge a success. To read more about the Honors Program Members' Challenge, click here.

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

This month - Rebecca Ann Simon, Third-year PLEAS and Certificate Program in Public Policy Student
Before Rebecca Ann Simon began her undergraduate career at U.C. Berkeley in 2001, she participated in a summer exchange program at Oxford University in England. After studying with the Poet Laureate, Simon considered becoming a Shakespearean scholar. But as with the Bard's plays, sometimes the direction one takes in life is all in the timing.

Originally from Irvine, Simon was excited to move to the Bay Area, where she expected a high level of civil discourse with the country's brightest minds. Just weeks after she started classes, however, the Sept. 11 terror attacks occurred and the campus devolved into guerilla-theater and hate-speeches. This had a tremendous impact on the campus community. Simon, who had always been involved in student council and government, decided that she belonged in the political realm and decided to get involved to change the campus climate.

"I had that activist spirit," she said. "After everything that happened on 9/11 and the response I witnessed on campus, I realized that if I wanted to see change happen, I would have to move outside the classroom."

Passionate about public service, Simon was involved in government both on and off campus. Within months of earning her bachelor's degree in Political Science and English, she began her legal education at U.C. Davis School of Law. "The first year, it felt like a brick wall had come down on me," she said. "Law school was the hardest thing I had faced intellectually, and I felt the stress was a sign that I wasn't supposed to be there."

On top of the academic challenges, Simon had to miss classes and travel back to Irvine for a family member's surgery. Nine months into her first year, she decided to take an academic leave. She moved to Los Angeles to be close to her family. Simon soon became Program Director at the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation, a position she was elevated to just four months after she began working at the nonprofit.

While serving as a board member on the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC), Los Angeles Westside, Simon connected with a woman who was running for LA City Council. That led to Simon's next job as a Campaign Manager. Through her work on the campaign, she became acquainted with Robin Sax, a former prosecutor and well-known legal analyst and media personality. Simon then spent almost three years working for Sax as a strategist.

Before she knew it, six years had passed since she left Northern California, and Simon realized her passion for law was still burning. Simon selected Southwestern's PLEAS program, as the program allowed Simon to still be there for her family while pursing her dream to finish her law degree. It turned out to be an excellent decision.

"Law school felt like the right decision this time because I had the discipline and mental orientation, and the flexibility of Southwestern's part-time program fit my needs much better," she said. "Plus, the Southwestern community offers a tremendous amount of support to students."

Simon has great respect and appreciation for Professor Gabriela Ryan, Director of Southwestern's Academic Support Program. As a 1L, she attended all of her workshops. Simon became a Dean's Fellow as a 2L and will serve a third term next year, as the program's first Supervising Executive Dean's Fellow. Simon has also worked as a research assistant for Professor Robert Pugsley and as a TA to Professor John Heilman. She declared Professor Arthur McEvoy's History of Legal Culture course as "the best class I've taken at any institution anywhere in the world—including Oxford, Berkeley, and King Hall [U.C. Davis]."

During her first semester at Southwestern, Simon had attended a lunch presentation given by Associate Dean Molly Selvin to learn about the joint JD/MBA programs. When Dean Selvin mentioned that Southwestern had established a new partnership with the Pardee RAND Graduate School to offer law students the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Public Policy, Simon took it as a sign.

"The public policy piece was the one component of my education that all my mentors told me would be missing if I went to law school," Simon said. "The caliber of the professors at RAND is world class. This Certificate Program offers the perfect curriculum for someone like me who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the important connection between law and public policy. This program is truly cutting edge."

While Simon dreams of opening her own political consulting firm in Los Angeles, she knows that she will need to consider the opportunities that become available to her after she graduates in 2014. But these programs have made her confident. "Southwestern and RAND have both been exactly where I needed to be so I feel like I will ultimately wind up in right place."


  • Tai Chi and Qigong for the Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders in COMPLEMENTARY AND INTEGRATIVE THERAPIES FOR PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS (P. Muskin, et al. eds.; with H. Lavaretsky; Elsevier, 2013)
  • Big Data and Pharmacovigilance: Using Health Information Exchanges to Revolutionize Drug Safety, IOWA LAW REVIEW (Forthcoming)
  • Of Evergreening and Efficacy: the Glivec Patent Case, GESPAM (April 2013)
  • Participant, ASU Legal Scholars Conference, Tempe, AZ
  • Guest Blogger, Bill of Health, Harvard Law School Petrie-Flom Center
  • Introduction: The AALS ADR Section Program on the Supreme Court and the Future of Arbitration and The Supreme Court and the Future of Arbitration: Towards a Preemptive Federal Arbitration Procedural Paradigm?, 42 SOUTHWESTERN LAW REVIEW 131 (2013)
  • Organizer and Speaker, "CERCLA: What's New and What's Next in Contaminated Property Cost Recovery and Enforcement Actions," LACBA Environmental Law Symposium, Los Angeles, CA
  • Organizer and Speaker, "Writing and Teaching About 'Fixing' the Federal Arbitration Act," AALS/ABA Dispute Resolution Legal Educators Colloquium, Chicago, IL
  • Speaker, Panel on Recent U.S. Supreme Court Arbitration Law Developments, Dispute Resolution Section Annual Meeting, American Bar Association, Chicago, IL
  • Member, 2013 Planning Committee, AALS/ABA Dispute Resolution Legal Educators Colloquium
  • "Opinion analysis: Precertification stipulations to limit class damages are not binding," SCOTUSblog (March 2013)
  • Quoted, "New Developments in Swipe Fee Suit Against Visa, Mastercard and Co.," CardHub
  • THE RIGHT TO CIVIL DEFENSE IN TORTS (Carolina Academic Press, June 2013)
  • Presenter, "The Injustice and Inefficiency of Unsubstantiated Litigation," Association for Private Enterprise Education Conference, Maui, HI



Professors Yokoyama, Heilman and D'Italia Receive Southwestern's 2013 Excellence in Teaching Awards

Excellence in Teaching recipientsSouthwestern is pleased to announce that Professors Dennis Yokoyama, John Heilman and Alexandra D'Italia have been selected to receive the law school's 2013 Excellence in Teaching Awards. Read More.

Southwestern Welcomes New Adjunct Faculty

Additional practitioners and experts in a variety of fields have joined Southwestern's adjunct faculty. Read more.


Southwestern Mourns the Loss of Carole Weiner

Carole WeinerMembers of the Southwestern community were greatly saddened by the loss of a beloved colleague, teacher and librarian, Carole Weiner, who passed away on May 7, after fighting a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. The Associate Director of Southwestern's Leigh H. Taylor Law Library since 1998, Ms. Weiner began her career at Southwestern in 1980 as a circulation librarian. For more than three decades, she taught legal research to thousands of first-year students for whom she served as a favorite mentor.

Her tremendous contributions to the law school and her students were celebrated just two weeks ago at the Southwestern Alumni Awards Banquet, where she was presented with the Betty Trier Berry '15 Award, a special honor created to help recognize a female member of the Southwestern community for extraordinary commitment to the law school. Read more.


Southwestern Partners with Keck Graduate Institute to Offer Innovative Certificate of Bioscience Industry Law and Practice

Keck Graduate InstituteSouthwestern has partnered with the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), part of the Claremont Colleges, to offer an exciting Certificate of Bioscience Industry Law and Practice to students at both institutions. Attorneys and business leaders knowledgeable about business practices and intellectual property rights are in high demand in the bioscience industry. This certificate program provides an avenue for students at both institutions to develop expertise in areas that are critical for success in this field.

Beginning in the Fall of 2013, qualified students from KGI can take courses at Southwestern in intellectual property law, patent and trademark law, and regulatory law as it applies to health care and the bioscience industry. Qualified students from Southwestern can take courses at KGI in the area of technology management, entrepreneurship, and bioscience related industry dynamics. Students from both schools who complete the required coursework will earn a Certificate in Bioscience Industry Law and Practice. Read More.


Variety Honors Southwestern Alumni

Wayne LevinVariety has named Southwestern alumnus Wayne Levin '88 as its 2013 Legal Leadership honoree. Mr. Levin, Chief Strategic Officer and General Counsel for Lionsgate, has played an integral role in the film company's success. He is also one of the most invested supporters of Southwestern's expansive entertainment and media law program.

Mr. Levin has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Southwestern for more than 15 years, teaching popular courses in Financing and Distributing Independent Films, and Motion Picture Production Law. He also co-chairs the law school's Biederman Institute Executive Board, and in 2010, he was elected to serve on Southwestern's Board of Trustees. He is featured in this story in Variety. Read More.

Southwestern Alumni Honored as Prosecuting Attorneys of Year

On May 1 at the Los Angeles County Bar Association's 2013 Criminal Justice Awards Dinner, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys Natalie Adomian '94 and Stephanie A. Sparagna '86 were honored as Prosecuting Attorneys of the Year. This is the second year in a row that the distinction was awarded to Southwestern graduates; the 2012 award was presented to Deborah Brazil '96.

Criminal Justice Section members nominated dozens of individuals who have consistently demonstrated legal excellence in the field of criminal justice. From that distinguished group of nominees, the Executive Committee selected the honorees for their exceptional dedication and contributions to the practice of criminal law.

Annual Awards Reception Celebrates Community Contributions

Annual Awards Reception Celebrates Community Contributions

Hundreds gathered at the The Ebell of Los Angeles last month to honor four distinguished members of the Southwestern community at the law school's 25th Annual Awards Recognition Reception, Silent Auction and Reunion. Pictured, from left: Noreen Berra '85, Alumni Association Board Member; Dean Austen Parrish; Dean Emeritus Bryant Garth, "Outstanding Friend" Honoree; Professor Catherine Carpenter '76, "Alumna of the Year" Honoree; the late Carole Weiner, "Betty Trier Berry '15 Award" Honoree; Hon. Robert Schuit '79, "Outstanding Judicial Officer" Honoree; Hon. Robert Philibosian '67, Southwestern Trustee and Master of Ceremonies; and Anthony Kidd '93, Alumni Association Vice President


Students Can Apply Now for Southwestern's On-Campus Apartments

Housing RenderingApplications are now being accepted for The Residences on 7th, Southwestern's new on-campus apartment community that will open in August 2013. Southwestern's continuing students and members of the 2013 entering class can reserve their units from among a choice of studio, one- and two-bedroom layouts.

All apartments come fully furnished and include valuable amenities, such as a 42" high definition TV, in-unit washer/dryer and free basic cable, internet and water. Assigned parking is available in the secure parking garage located under the units. Other features within the complex include a sun deck, barbeque facilities, courtyard area with cafe seating, a business center, relaxing lounge area with a coffee cart and more.

The on-site property manager from Peak Campus Management welcomes the opportunity to talk with interested students about the exciting new on-campus student residences (213-738-5500, or in the Residences' temporary office in the Westmoreland Building - Suite 102). More information and a link to the rental application are available online. Construction updates by month can be viewed here.


Vivien MontzA Dozen Questions for Professor Vivien Montz

Q: What is your fondest law school memory?

A: My fondest memories are from the National Moot Court competition in Atlanta. The judges asked unexpected questions that taught me to think on my feet and to use logic in presenting an effective argument.

Q: What was your first job in the legal profession? What was the most important thing you learned from it?

A: I was a law clerk for a firm that practiced construction litigation. I learned that the law is sufficiently complex that it poses intellectual challenges no matter how many years you may practice it. I also learned that the practice of law is a service profession, and that a successful attorney must be responsive to his or her clients on a regular basis.

Q: With regard to the construction law that is part of your practice, what are some of the most significant regulatory changes since the proverbial bubble burst in 2008?

A: Some developments involved the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act ("ILSA"), which was meant to protect consumers and was held to apply to condominium developments. There were numerous lawsuits by condominium purchasers seeking to rescind their purchase contracts under ILSA if a condominium was not constructed within two years. There has also been an increase in public-private partnerships through which governments combine public funds with private capital to fund public transportation and other construction projects.

Q: What are some of the biggest issues that arise in the practice of community association law?

A: Some typical issues involve the proper procedures for condominium elections, special assessments, and enforcing liens upon a property. This type of practice also often involves litigation arising from defective construction and transactional work involving construction and other contracts.

Q: What has been one of the most interesting cases you have litigated?

A: One of my most interesting cases involved a condominium that had numerous construction defects, issues involving fraud, and a performance bond surety with complex defenses as to liability. One of the most interesting areas of my legal practice has been as a lead transactional attorney representing the constructor of the Port of Miami Tunnel project.

Q: You've written about a variety of topics, from sexual harassment to the First Amendment/ What is the nature of your current research?

A: I am currently researching an article on methods to increase funding for state transportation projects through the use of public-private partnerships, including methods to attract private financing for these projects. The article would suggest alternative methods to expand interstate highway systems and to fill the transportation funding gap.

Q: What are some of the most important skills students need for effective legal writing?

A: Students need to be clear and accurate in their description of the law, and thorough in researching the law. Their analysis should also be logically consistent and should communicate effectively to the reader, whether that reader is a judge, an attorney or a client.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching law students?

A: There is often a moment in a legal writing course, especially during the first semester, when students realize that they are truly thinking like a lawyer and are properly analyzing and resolving a legal problem. I enjoy helping them to reach that moment.

Q: What is the most important piece of advice you give to law students?

A: I would advise students to remind themselves about why they chose to go to law school, so that they stay aligned with their ultimate goals and study areas of law that really interest them.

Q: Is this your first time living in Los Angeles? What are some aspects of the West Coast that particularly appeal to you?

A: I have never lived in California before. I enjoy taking advantage of the many sporting activities that are available because of the mountains and the beaches, and the different climate zones.

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of the legal profession?

A: I really enjoy hiking and swimming, reading and learning new things, and playing the piano.

Q: If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

A: I would continue to teach, involve myself in programs that provide services in areas that are underfunded by the traditional economic system, and pursue legal scholarship on issues such as gap financing. In other words, I would continue to do what I'm doing now, whether or not I could fail.

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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.