They bring to the table myriad backgrounds and vantage points, but new members of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association board of directors share a common goal: helping the law school deftly navigate the terrain ahead.
For Paul Clark ’80, geography can’t deter his desire to contribute. A partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Seward & Kissel, he wants to increase alumni engagement.
“Lack of engagement with a school breeds apathy and disinterest in the state of that school,” Clark says. “Some of this can certainly be addressed by greater engagement among alumni themselves, but Boalt must help facilitate this interaction through faculty and staff visits.”
Clark joined the advisory board of the Berkeley Center for Law and Business (BCLB) in 2010. That generated renewed contact with faculty and alumni—and the school itself.
Impressed with how Professors Robert Bartlett and Steven Davidoff Solomon and BCLB Executive Director Adam Sterling ’13 have created “a very exciting environment for learning business law,” Clark wants to fuel the business of sustaining Boalt’s overall excellence.
“The main challenge, and the challenge our board can best address, is the utterly abysmal giving rate of alumni,” Clark says. “We’ve consistently been below 20 percent, well below our peer public law schools like UCLA, Virginia, and Michigan.”
For Karen Boyd ’96, returning to Boalt as an adjunct lecturer from 2002 to 2009 “reminded me just how important the school has been to my professional life. When I was asked to join the board, it seemed like a great opportunity to engage with the school in another important way.”
A founding partner at Turner Boyd in Redwood City, she knows a thing or two about successful transitions. Boyd launched her own practice in 2008 after 10 years at a large firm (Fish & Richardson).
“Boalt is shifting from being primarily supported by the state to having to rely on other sources,” she says. “This is where the alumni board comes in. Most of our peer law schools have decades or even century-long traditions of substantial alumni giving. Traditionally, Boalt hasn’t needed that. But times change, and our alumni engagement—including financial support—needs to change with it.”
While the board’s diversity reflects that of the school’s 17,000-plus graduates, its members share a common determination.
“The resilience of the school amazes me,” Boyd says. “Many great professors and staff I knew as a student, I couldn’t imagine Boalt going on without them. And yet, as they’ve retired or passed away, the school continues to churn out great lawyers and great research year after year. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. Maybe that’s just the nature of great institutions.”