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Berkeley Law Pays Tribute to Its First One Hundred Years

Centennial gala

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law’s year-long Centennial celebration culminates with a festive black-tie gala featuring live music, dancing, and a dazzling indoor digital fireworks show. More than a year in the planning, the Nov. 9 event at Pauley Ballroom on campus celebrates a century of top-tier legal education.

Preceding the gala, the law school will unveil a new donor wall honoring its most generous benefactors.

A century ago, William Carey Jones—the school’s first dean—pledged to combine faculty and student efforts to “cultivate, promote, and elevate the law and spirit of justice, both here in these academic halls and abroad in the forum and marts of the world, with a mind and purpose directed singly to the service of society.”

A newly-published magazine, available here, provides an engaging and colorful look at Berkeley Law’s first 100 years.

From its inception, unlike many law schools of the period, Berkeley Law welcomed all qualified applicants regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity. It was the nation’s first law school to tenure a female professor—Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong ’15, and the first to hire an Asian-American professor—Sho Sato, who received national acclaim for his work on California tax and local government law.

The school has produced two multiple-term California governors, Earl Warren ’14 and Pete Wilson ’62, who also served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Senator, respectively. Other notable alumni include the California Supreme Court’s first female and Latino justices, Rose Bird ’65 and Cruz Reynoso ’58; presidential cabinet members Edwin Meese ’58, G. William Miller ’52, and Dean Rusk ’40; civil rights heroes John Doar ’49 and Thelton Henderson ’62; entrepreneurial mavericks Melvin Belli ’33 and Jess Jackson ’55; and class-action icons Elizabeth Cabraser ’78 and Dale Minami ’71.

“It’s obvious that everything from stability on Wall Street to sustainability in our environment demands the attention of the best our profession has to offer,” Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, Jr. said. “The more complicated the problem, the more important it is to have the best lawyers the problem allows. That’s precisely who we’re trying to produce at Boalt.”

Service and scholarship

Trailblazing work is nothing new for Berkeley Law. William Prosser, dean from 1948-1961, authored Prosser on Torts—tort law’s seminal work for more than a generation. For over 50 years, the Center for the Study of Law and Society has been the national leader in socio-legal research, advancing fields such as juvenile justice and regulatory studies. The Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, which provides valuable research on numerous issues, was the nation’s first Ph.D. program focused on law.

Berkeley Law has been ranked first among U.S. law schools in intellectual property law 14 of the past 15 years. Both the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Clinic—which has spawned similar clinics at more than a dozen other schools—work closely with Silicon Valley to shape policies and regulations.

Often, Berkeley Law’s pioneering spirit comes from its students. Ecology Law Quarterly, founded in 1970, is the nation’s oldest environmental student law journal. In 1988, students established the East Bay Community Law Center—which has grown into the area’s largest provider of free legal services to disadvantaged residents.

Berkeley Law also plays a central role in advising policymakers on energy and environmental regulations, criminal justice reforms, the impact of law on business and the U.S. and global economies, and human rights protections.

“We have an obligation to confront the most vital issues in our research,” Edley said, “and to position our students to do likewise in their careers.”

Since Edley’s arrival in 2004, Berkeley Law has hired 47 faculty members, added eight new research centers, increased financial aid expenditures each year, ramped up its professional skills program, and finished a major construction and renovation project capped by the 55,000 square-foot South Addition.

To celebrate the school’s history, the Centennial gala will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a lavish dinner, and dancing to The Dick Bright Orchestra, one of San Francisco’s premier society bands. Individual tickets for $250 are available here, as are $500 Partner Tickets and $1,000 Patron Tickets, which include a tax deductible gift to support the Boalt Hall Fund. To RSVP, please call Paola Kim at 510.643.6549 or email