Boalt Hall displayed some star power on May 6 when celebrity “alum” Peter Gallagher of The OC television series paid a visit to adoring members of the OC at Boalt club. Cheering wildly and sporting de rigueur orange T-shirts, dozens of law students took a breather from finals to greet the wavy-haired actor who plays Boalt-educated, former public defender Sandy Cohen on the hit show set in Orange County.
Gallagher’s appearance at his fictional alma mater was more than a social call, however. For the second time in as many years, Gallagher presented the Sandy Cohen Public Defender Fellowship (nicknamed “The Sandy”) to help support a Boalt student pursuing an unpaid summer internship in that public service field. The fellowship was created by the OC at Boalt, and this year, Gallagher donated $2,000 to the fellowship, and FOX Broadcasting Company donated another $1,000, according to club Commander-in-Chief Ilona Turner ’06.
This year’s recipient, Ronnie Lin ’07 acknowledged some jitters as he accepted the fellowship from Gallagher amid flashing cameras and a standing-room crowd in Boalt’s Goldberg Room. “I’m a little more nervous than during our mock court arguments,” confessed Lin, who will work this summer in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
The OC at Boalt was founded in 2003 and, like its namesake, quickly became a sensation. Lesley Pena ’05, the club’s minister of information, said the club’s loyal following includes more than 70 students who gather for weekly meetings to view and discuss the previous week’s episode. The OC at Boalt also raises funds for the Sandy Cohen Fellowship, and sells T-shirts bearing such favorite lines from the show as “Four years at Berkeley Law for this?” and “Rich people need lawyers too.”
Club founder John Kim ’04, now a labor union attorney in Los Angeles, returned to Boalt for the event. “I had a dream to create a community at law school that was fun-loving, kitschy, irreverent and smart,” he said. “Our club found a soul mate in the form of Sandy Cohen.”
Wearing an OC at Boalt shirt, Professor Stephen Bundy ’78 applauded the club’s spirit of lighthearted fun, and, turning serious, praised its commitment to supporting public service work through the Sandy Cohen Fellowship. Gallagher, too, had kind words for his fans. “I applaud your activism. Keep dreaming,” he said.
As he waited to accept his fellowship award, Lin was asked if he was a big fan of the TV show. “I am now,” he replied with a grin.