UC Hastings Law is committed to thinking and behaving inclusively in all our spheres of activity.
We seek to foster a diverse and respectful community of people who draw strength and inspiration from each other while pursuing their personal, professional, and societal goals.
Already ranked among the nation’s most diverse law schools, UC Hastings is helping to create a legal profession that better reflects—and more equitably serves—the people of California and the nation.
One way we attract and empower students from diverse backgrounds is through our Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. That fall, more than 20 percent of UC Hastings’ incoming class arrived through LEOP. Custom-built to support students who have overcome significant adversity, LEOP strategies produce results. Our intense focus on providing customized coaching during the 2018-19 academic year, for example, contributed to historic results when LEOP graduates taking the California Bar Exam dramatically exceeded the average score of all first-time test-takers in the state.
During the same year in which we celebrated LEOP’s half-century mark, we launched the California Scholars Program. Initiated by the California State Legislature, it was established only at UC Hastings to provide a fully-funded legal education for California high school graduates who went on to graduate from a historically black college or university anywhere in the country.
We expect inclusive thinking and behavior to pervade all aspects of college life.
Our inclusion initiatives aren’t limited to students. We’re also employing new ways to recruit more diverse faculty and staff and to increase communication, engagement, cultural competencies, and a sense of belonging throughout the community. At the same time, we strive to be an exemplary neighbor through a variety of activities including student mentoring, faculty volunteering, community event hosting, and pro bono lawyering.
A vital component of this community—and source of tremendous pride—is our 20,000-strong alumni body. Deeply embedded in business, government, and civil society, our alumni demonstrate the school’s excellence and values in action. They include nationally recognized lawyers, state and federal judges, elected officials, entrepreneurs, leaders of nonprofit organizations, and professionals tackling important challenges in traditional legal arenas and across countless unconventional career paths.
Many UC Hastings alumni remain involved with the school as adjunct faculty members, scholarly collaborators, conference speakers, externship sponsors, and donors. And we are working to increase engagement even more, by boosting communication, creating practice area and other affinity groups, and establishing regional alumni chapters.
As we continue promoting the values embedded in the strategic plan, we expect inclusive thinking and behavior to pervade all aspects of college life.
To base all school activity on a foundation of mutual respect, continually demonstrating our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Continue to attract and retain diverse students, faculty, and staff
- Promote internal cohesion and communication
- Emphasize student wellness
- Increase alumni engagement and support
- Serve as a positive and welcoming institutional anchor for our neighborhood
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Staff, students, faculty, and alumni share the most rewarding aspects of their engagement with the UC Hastings community.
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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Key to Community Cohesion
“We are taking action to make UC Hastings a leader in the anti-racism and anti-bias movement.”
—Chancellor and Dean David Faigman
In 2020, amid a national reckoning about systemic racism, UC Hastings engaged in multiple conversations with students, faculty, staff, and others to share perspectives and surface ideas for meeting the moment with both humility and urgency.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values are embedded in the strategic plan. Heightened attention to Black Lives Matters and other issues nationwide have underscored the urgency of DEI initiatives that result in meaningful and lasting change.
Examples of recent activity:
- Our new Center for Racial & Economic Justice (CREJ), created in late 2019, is changing the way we approach our curriculum across the college. With strong leadership from Shauna Marshall, Alina Ball, Evelyn Rangel, and visiting scholars, we added courses such as Race & Sexuality and Black Lives Matter & the Law to the curriculum in the 2020-21 academic year, and are engaged in the project of teaching about race pervasively in law school classes.
- We are attracting more diverse applicants with our California Scholars program, which provides full-tuition scholarships for students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and our “3+3” joint-degree program with Spelman College, which allows students to complete their undergraduate and law degrees in six years instead of seven. Our 2020-21 cohort of 1Ls is the most diverse in the school’s history.
- We have added resources to support first-generation students, including a custom mentorship program and special programming in which students, alumni, and faculty share their first-gen experiences and learn about networking and self-promotion. Also, Hastings first-gen students started a new organization in 2018, Hastings First Generation Professionals.
- We launched two new affinity groups to connect Black and LBGTQI alumni to each other and to current students. Led by Regina Evans ’92 and Andrew Houston ’07, the UC Hastings Black Alumni Council is planning a mentorship program with the Black Law Students Association. The LGBTQI+ group, led by Myell Mergaert ’20, is partnering with OUTLAW on an upcoming panel and social event. Other affinity groups, including one for LEOP alums, are in the planning stages.
Alumni Share Drive to Excel and Serve
You can find UC Hastings’ 20,000 alumni around the globe, serving in pivotal positions at law firms of all sizes and specialties, on the bench, across government, in private enterprise from tiny start-ups to Fortune 500 C-suites, and at countless social justice organizations. They are united by a drive for excellence, commitment to justice, and determination to serve and succeed.
Submariner Turns Big-Tech Deal Broker
Snap strategist Eddy Mata ’14 pursued J.D. with laser focus on corporate career
Former U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Edward “Eddy” Mata ’14 remembers hunkering in his nuclear submarine as it patrolled the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, imagining himself traveling to meetings around the globe, sitting at tables negotiating business deals.
Today, as part of an elite corporate strategy team at Snap, he does just that—managing the social media darling’s relationships with Google, Apple, and other strategic partners, and looking for acquisitions to grow the company long term.
“I knew law school was my way to fast track that path to my seat at that table,” Mata says. While at Hastings, he studied venture capital financing. He participated in the Community Economic Development Clinic and the Hastings Science and Technology Law Journal. He summered at Nixon Peabody and Cooley. He joined the Negotiation Team, winning top honors in a national competition and a scholarship. And it all paid off.
In 2016, two years after joining Cooley, Snap approached him for a role in its legal department. But Mata wanted a hand at guiding the company, and landed a spot on its Strategy team. He became that always-on-a plane executive he imagined from his sub.
Before the pandemic grounded travel, Mata was exhausted after an international flight to yet another round of meetings with smartphone companies. But it was the good kind of tired. “I’m doing it,” he says. “I’m doing the thing. This is exactly what I wanted.”
Journey from Refugee to Constitutional Defender
Judge Ashley Tabaddor ’97 serves on immigration law’s front lines
When the Hon. Ashley Tabaddor ’97 considers asylum cases in her Los Angeles immigration court, her perspective is informed by her own experiences as a refugee. At age 10, Tabaddor and her family fled post-revolution Iran. Their smuggler abandoned them in Pakistan, but they persevered, reaching the United States in 1982. After years navigating America’s “byzantine” immigration system, she obtained U.S. citizenship in 1994, as a Hastings 1L.
Tabaddor remains grateful to her adopted homeland—and committed to upholding its democratic institutions. “I have a deep belief in the American system,” she says. “Our Bill of Rights, our system of checks and balances.”
As president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, the union representing all immigration judges, Tabaddor has opposed executive-branch attempts to weaken those checks and balances—including increased politicization of immigration-court rules. “Most people don’t realize our immigration courts are in a law enforcement agency,” she says, “and our judges are hired and fired by the nation’s chief prosecutor, the U.S. Attorney General. We need an independent immigration court.”
Tabaddor also remains committed—as an alumna, a symposium panelist, a mentor—to upholding the ideals of public service that first drew her to Hastings. “Law is a calling,” she says, “not just a job. We are the defenders of the Constitution. That’s the role of UC Hastings Law at its highest and best.”
A Fiery Advocate for Liability Victims
Mike Kelly ’76 harnesses “Super Lawyer” skills in historic settlement with PG&E
The firestorm that incinerated Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2018, resulted from a tragic convergence: severe drought; scorching winds; parched vegetation; and an obsolete, sparking powerline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
Even before the embers cooled, Michael Kelly ’76 was getting calls. A renowned liability attorney, Kelly has been named one of Northern California’s “Super Lawyers” for 15 consecutive years.
His reputation wasn’t the only reason for the calls. Kelly was already suing PG&E for numerous wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties dating to 2017. Several of his childhood San Francisco friends had retired and moved north, only to lose everything to the flames. He convened a group of law firms to help them.
The Paradise cases were complicated by PG&E’s January 2019 bankruptcy filing. But under relentless pressure from the victims’ attorneys, PG&E’s bankruptcy settlement included a historic $13.5 billion fund for fire victims.
Kelly credits his success—against PG&E and across his career—to multiple factors: “Dedication to helping people. Skill. Good colleagues. Frankly, good luck.” And Hastings. “Hastings taught me to think like a lawyer,” he says. “And to care. The school had a spirit of service. That’s one reason I try to give back, as a donor, as an employer of Hastings graduates, as an advisor. I share my opinion with Dean Faigman anytime he asks for it. Sometimes when he doesn’t!”