Trina Grillo Retreat
22nd Annual Trina Grillo Social Justice Retreat, “Advancing Social Justice from Within”.

On February 28 and 29, 2020, McGeorge had the honor of hosting the 22nd Annual Trina Grillo Social Justice Retreat, “Advancing Social Justice from Within.” Named after USF’s law professor Trina Grillo (1948-1996), the conference is hosted by various West Coast law schools on a rotating basis. Professor Grillo was renowned for her innovative teaching style and scholarly works that celebrated differences and focused on social justice issues. The two-day retreat emphasized helping individuals reconnect and re-energize from within, while also exploring ways to bring about change through one’s own actions as well as through the Capitol.

Students, faculty, and staff from eleven law schools—from University of Washington, to LA-area schools, to UNLV—were in attendance for the weekend event. The first day of the retreat began with a tour of the capitol building, immediately followed by a stirring committee room conversation led by McGeorge alum Aaron Brieno (2014), the Capitol Director in Senator Ben Hueso’s office. The evening was capped off with a fantastic reception co-hosted by McGeorge’s Capital Center for Law & Policy. Saturday session topics includedCareers In and Around the Capital;” “Education, Equity, and Policy;” “Voter Suppression: Election Protection;” and “Career Visioning,” along with several other insightful and moving discussions. Among the featured McGeorge speakers were Professor Ederlina Co, Professors Emeriti Brian Landsberg and Dorothy Landsberg, and alumna Elizabeth Kim. Representatives from various outside law schools, government and non-profit agencies also presented, including a former New Jersey Administrative Law Judge, a Director for the Office of Equity at the CA Department of Social Services, and a Legislative Advocate for the ACLU Center for Advocacy & Policy.

The scheduled activities and discussions promoted community building across law schools and between all involved. One student attending from another school reported that they had not realized how isolated they had felt before the retreat, and now felt reconnected to the social justice community.

Special thanks go to Associate Dean of Career Development Molly Stafford and Director of Government & Capital Employment Erin O’Neal Muilenburg for taking the lead in organizing this year’s retreat. Reflecting on the meaning of the retreat, Dean Stafford noted, “McGeorge is uniquely situated in Sacramento. Our proximity to the state Capitol and focus on educating the next generation of attorneys and activists working at the intersection of law and policy allows us to highlight the powerful justice work being done by lawyers, lobbyists and legislative professionals in the capital arena.”

Before becoming a licensed attorney, law students must apply for bar admission and, crucially, pass the character and fitness requirements. The last thing you want is for all of your hard work to be undone because of a simple oversight or omission from three years ago. It’s easy to think that you would never have done such a thing, but assuming that these words of caution don’t apply to you may result in a major headache later on. One of the most efficient ways to ensure that your bar application goes through without issue is by following these tips from Before the Bar’s article, which details the importance of maintaining accurate records of your character and fitness and how to properly amend any inconsistencies.


McGeorge students who want to review or amend their law school applications should contact Dean Carr to request access to their documents. In addition to amending discrepancies when you find them, remember that you have a continuing duty to keep the school informed of potential character and fitness issues that arise throughout your time in law school.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to starting your career as a licensed attorney.

“Studying abroad is a marvelous way to immerse yourself in another culture, to challenge yourself to learn how people in other cultures live and experience life, and to learn how to communicate effectively across cultures.  As the world gets smaller, it becomes progressively more important for American lawyers to have these skills to serve their clients effectively, both at home and abroad.”

– Jeff Proske | Associate Dean of Administration, McGeorge School of Law

Having a well-rounded education is only the first step in becoming a successful professional, regardless of the career you pursue. Awareness and sensitivity to other cultures is especially important for lawyers because clients are as diverse as the cases they bring. Jeff Proske, Associate Dean of Administration at McGeorge, notes that studying abroad while in law school is one of the best ways not only to immerse yourself in another culture and learn about how others live, but also how to effectively communicate across cultures in a professional setting. Preparing to take part in McGeorge’s study abroad program in Salzburg for the first time this summer as the undergraduate professor of The Art & Science of Negotiation, Dean Proske is living by his words. Students who have participated in the Salzburg Summer Program say it is an incredibly unique opportunity and one of the best experiences they’ve had, in law school or otherwise.

McGeorge Salzburg Event
Salzburg Closing Dinner. From left to right: Abby Sedra (’21), Hannah Martinez (’21), Shereen Basi (’21), and Mondana Koshfam (’21).

“If you’re on the fence [about participating], I would highly recommend doing it,” says Shereen Basi (McGeorge class of 2021), who participated in both the 2019 Salzburg Summer Program and an international internship in Berlin with CMS Hasche Sigle as part of the full European Summer Experience. Taking advantage of both opportunities allowed Shereen to have a cultural experience whereby she was fully immersed in another culture both socially and professionally. Despite being selected to take part in a prestigious fellowship in California that ran simultaneous to the Salzburg Summer Program, Shereen explains that she ultimately chose to study abroad because “it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and even though the [fellowship] was another excellent program, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this again… [And] I still keep in touch with the attorneys I worked with.” Outside of the classroom, students are able to travel and experience all that Austria and the surrounding countries have to offer. From bustling city centers to mountainous landscapes, Salzburg has something for everyone to enjoy.

Just remember that things in Sacramento don’t come to halt while you’re overseas! The fall semester will begin shortly after the Salzburg Summer Program ends, and you can use your international experience to standout to employers during things like OCI. Shereen was able to secure a job offer through Early OCI immediately following her summer abroad, explaining that “the first question employers asked me during interviews was, ‘You were in Europe all summer – how was that?’ So people are just really interested in the experience and were excited to see that McGeorge offers this [program]. A lot of employers said I probably wouldn’t get another opportunity like that, so it made me feel like I definitely made the right decision to go.”

The program this upcoming summer will feature special guest lecturer Scott Boras (McGeorge class of 1982), one of the most successful sports agents in professional baseball and president of the Boras Corporation. Having negotiated Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees and Barry Zito’s seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, Mr. Boras will provide students with incomparable insights into legal negotiations and the world of sports law. With limited spots remaining for the 2020 session, all interested students are encouraged to apply for the Salzburg Summer Program and international internships now. The application deadline is March 15, 2020, and priority is given to early applicants.

Questions about the study abroad program can be directed to the Summer Abroad Program Office at

Now that 2020 is underway and you’ve undoubtedly researched every conference and event you want to attend (right?), it’s time to start thinking about how to make the events work for you. Approaching a networking opportunity with a game plan is the only way to fully take advantage of the connections you make. Walking in blindly and thinking you can simply “wing it” will only result in you wasting your own time and money.

Before the Bar

To help law students make the most of their networking, Lindsay Griffiths from the Before the Bar blog has detailed several ways for students to master networking events in her article, “13 best practices for attending networking events”. As you prepare for your schedule of upcoming conferences, be sure to review Griffiths’ article and employ her tips.

Remember: every event, panel discussion, job fair and lunch meeting held at McGeorge is a networking opportunity for law students – and you don’t even have to travel! Additionally, be sure to take advantage of the Career Development Office’s conference reimbursement policy, which allows all students to be reimbursed up to $150 each year for conference-related expenses. Click here to see further details and access the online form. Keep an eye on upcoming events on MCO, the weekly Docket, or the Events tab here, and put these best practices to work.

Each year, one McGeorge law student is selected to receive a full scholarship to attend the Peggy Browning Fund | Annual National Law Student Workers’ Rights Conference held in the Washington DC area. This year’s winner was Ashley Silva-Guzman (class of 2021) – congratulations, Ashley!

Following her experience at the conference in October, Ashley had the following to say:

Ashley Silva-Guzman; National Law Student Workers' Rights Conference
Ashley Silva-Guzman (right) at the 2019 Peggy Browning Fund | Annual National Law Student Workers’ Rights Conference.

I worked in business immigration for two years and while I had a ton of experiences on the immigration side of employment and labor law, I did not experience the breadth of the field. I felt this conference would provide me with more information and experience on labor law and I was right. I had an amazing experience at the conference engaging with law students from a variety of different law schools. I still maintain contact with my roommate who is a law student at UC Davis and that connection has been amazing, as well.

Additionally, I went to a number of workshops. The one that stood out to me was the workshop about unionizing immigrant workers. The speakers spoke passionately about the lack of information provided to immigrants regarding their rights and how to ensure immigrants can unionize safely without risking their status. The plenary speakers also left a lasting impression on me. The leader of Milk With Dignity spoke about his work unionizing milk workers and the horrible conditions they face milking cows for hours a day without breaks and with no opportunities for sick days or time off. The entire conference was such important context for the immigration work I have been practicing. It led me to enroll in Labor Law for the following semester to learn more about the rights provided to those unionizing.”

Students who are interested in workers’ rights and labor law are highly encouraged to attend next year’s conference and contact the CDO to apply for the same scholarship. Even if you do not a receive a fully paid scholarship, keep in mind that the McGeorge CDO will reimburse up to $150 of expenses associated with attending professional conferences and recruiting events for every student each year. While this may not cover everything, it will certainly help to mitigate some of the costs that might have you on the fence in deciding whether or not to go. There will always be more that you can learn, and as a law student, there are few ways to be better prepared than by hearing from and talking to people who are in the field every day. If you are passionate about something, seek out similar opportunities for whatever practice area you are interested in and experience all that you can!

Do you have a difficult time finding breaks between law school and work to attend career advancement events? It’s a common problem, but opportunities abound for those who seek them out. The U.S. Department of Justice recently held a webinar to share information about internship opportunities in their office, and a recording is available for those who missed it. The DOJ has volunteer positions available to all law school students throughout the year, as well as a handful of paid roles for eligible 2L and 3L students. Volunteer experience is crucial for law students who are looking for ways to showcase their passion for the law but do not have the work experience to point to when meeting with employers, and is an especially common hurdle for 1L students.

The webinar below is a short 30-minutes and can be viewed at any time. Check it out now to ensure your application is submitted on time (deadlines vary by position) and make an appointment with a McGeorge CDO career advisor to review your cover letter and resume!

VIEW HERE: DOJ Volunteer Legal Internship Webinar

NOTE: The Adobe Connect browser add-in is required to view this recording.

Part-Time Law Students

Being enrolled in law school as a part-time student is an experience unlike any other. Not only must you navigate the rigors of law school, but in all likelihood, you’ll also be balancing that with a full-time job. Add to that kids and a family for many students, and things can quickly feel overwhelming.

But worry not!

There are several ways to help manage your time and keep yourself mentally vigilant:

  • Take Classes Seriously – Even though you won’t be taking a full course load, you should still treat it as such. After all, part-time students typically only take one less class per semester than their full-time counterparts.
  • Talk to Fellow Part-Timers – Sharing experiences and learning how others maintain a work-school-life balance creates a support system unique to part-time students. Only people who have gone through this experience can truly relate to the hardships and unique challenges part-time law students face, so developing a support system among your classmates creates an environment of irreplaceable insights and empathy.
  • Join Student Organizations – McGeorge has several organizations for law students to join and share their passions. Joining one or more of these allows both part-time and full-time law students to engage in activities they’re passionate about and collaborate with fellow classmates to share and grow ideas about today’s legal issues and nuances. In addition to student organizations, there are several evening events hosted by the CDO which part-time students are encouraged to attend whenever possible (these can also be found on McGeorgeCareersOnline).
  • Create a Routine – In order to remain focused on the task at hand and prevent yourself from falling behind in school, it’s best to create a routine that you can follow on a daily basis. For instance, due to how busy weekdays are between working, law school, and family life, many former part-time students recommend saving reading assignments and outlining for the weekend. This will prevent you from stretching yourself too thin on days that you’re also working, while simultaneously allowing you to focus more intently on the material you’re taking in. If you commute to and from work and class on public transit that is a great time to catch up on reading or audio supplements, as well. It can be tempting to use that time to nap or simply let your mind wander, but those hours (particularly in the morning, before you’ve really done anything at all) are best used for chipping away at the myriad readings you’ll need to do to stay on top of your classes.
  • Acknowledge and Avoid Distractions – No matter where your academic or professional life lead, there will inevitably be things that distract you from the tasks that you should be focusing on. As a part-time law student, these distractions can be exponentially more damaging to your success because of how many aspects they can potentially impact. Falling behind in school will cause stress that bleeds into your performance at work, in turn fostering frustration at home and further distracting you from school assignments, and so on and so on in a vicious cycle. It’s best to identify possible distractions early and actively avoid them. If you know that TV, video games, or other kinds of home entertainment are among your vices, try to do your school work away from home so that you’re not tempted by them.
  • Network Through McGeorge – Making connections with attorneys in the various courts, agencies, and firms in your desired practice area can be difficult due to the lack of time you have to attend networking events. However, you’d be remiss to ignore the plethora of resources available to you as a McGeorge student. Many professors are practicing attorneys and judges who love helping law students advance their careers – that’s why they’re here and teaching despite putting in a full day’s work in the office. Even if they are no longer practicing, they certainly have a wealth of knowledge from their years in the field and can provide connections to active attorneys whom you should meet. Speaking with professors, meeting over coffee, and probing them for career insights are simple tactics that can quickly put you on the inside track to a coveted job. The best part? You’re already on campus for classes, so you won’t necessarily have to go out of your way to meet with them.
  • Consider Daytime Courses in Your 3rd or 4th Year – After having a couple years of experience under your belt and understanding how to balance competing priorities in your life, it may be beneficial to enroll in daytime courses near the end of your academic career. Many employers will work with you to accommodate your work schedule if it’s only for a semester or two, and doing so will give you the opportunity to engage in more on-campus events and clubs at McGeorge.
  • Make Time for Breaks – Not to be forgotten among the freneticism known as life as a part-time law student is the need to make time for yourself. True, you should dedicate as much time as you can to studying and work, and it seems to be at odds with everything outlined above. However, it’s just as important to take a step back to breathe, relax, and take your mind off of the law. Do what you can to stave off burnout from your 4-years long balancing act. Exercising is a great way to reset your mental state while simultaneously taking care of your physical health, or schedule time in the evening to watch a show or movie with your family. After all, the need for multi-tasking doesn’t end after law school – if anything, you’ll be asked to do even more balancing once you’re handling cases, researching legal issues, writing motions, and counseling clients. Getting an early grasp on how to manage your time between work and your personal life will be invaluable for your future satisfaction and success as a lawyer.

For more information about how to make the most of your years as a part-time law student, be sure to make an appointment with a CDO advisor by emailing

Are you ready to take on the February 2020 California Bar Exam? We’ve previously outlined four ways you can optimize bar prep while simultaneously taking care of your mental and physical health, and the earlier you start preparing the more successful you will be. After the last handful of years spent in law school, you’re just inches from the end goal – you got this!



Be sure to register by November 1 to avoid late fees, and keep in mind that the final filing deadline is January 2, 2020.

“The pressures of law school are intense, leading to inordinate amounts of stress and mental health issues for law students. So how can students remain productive without losing themselves in the heavy workload?”

In this podcast, “host Ashley Baker welcomes licensed professional counselor Dionne Smith to discuss strategies for law students to manage their mental health and well-being through the rigors of law school.”

Carmen-Nicole Cox, class of 2011.

On October 26, 2019, McGeorge alumna Carmen-Nicole Cox (’11) will receive the American Inns of Court’s 2019 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service. Ms. Cox currently serves as the chief of legislative affairs for administration at the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“I am so proud and humbled to receive the 2019 Sandra Day O’Connor Award. More than a celebration of the professional and pro bono work that I’ve done in my short career, I see this award as a celebration of persisting American values. Despite what we see in the press and social media, America continues to value humanity, humility, and unity in our diverse society. I am truly honored to join so many of my peers and colleagues at the U.S. Supreme Court as we honor these values in society, generally, as well as civility, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law, specifically.”

The university’s full press release may be viewed here.

We are also thrilled to welcome Carmen-Nicole back to McGeorge as she prepares to teach a course in 2020. Congratulations, Carmen-Nicole, for all you’ve accomplished!