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Many benefit from California Western’s broad perspective on law

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California Western School of Law extends its commitment to being and becoming what law school ought to be well beyond the classroom. This commitment appeals to prospective lawyers who want to make a difference in the courtroom and in the lives of others.

California Western students, faculty, staff and graduates reflect a strong history of providing pro bono work to worthy causes, including providing assistance to those wrongly convicted of crimes, victims of domestic violence and those who need a voice to advocate for their rights or protection.

“The California Western spirit is illustrated by our alumni who serve in the judiciary; as counsel for our communities, state and country; and reach out to those who need support and services most,” said Dean Steven R. Smith. “The school is proud of the tools we provide to our students and alumni to ensure that the California Western name remains strong among nonprofit organizations and service programs across the country. The impact the entire California Western community makes is nothing short of inspiring.”

One program recognizing contributions to others is the Adrianne Baker Fellowship. To be considered, California Western alumni must work in the public sector and illustrate a commitment to serving the public good.

The California Western alumni chosen to receive the 2010 Adrianne Baker Fellowship are Alissa L. Bjerkhoel, class of 2008, and Michael E. Scott Jr., class of 2009.

Bjerkhoel works as a staff attorney for the California DNA Project, a nonprofit organization founded by California Innocence Project at California Western and the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law. Bjerkhoel researches California convictions prior to 2008 in which DNA evidence was not readily available or accurate, looking for biological material that can be tested. She previously worked as a habeus attorney for the California Innocence Project.

Scott serves as a staff attorney for the Utilities Consumer Action Network in San Diego, handling regulatory matters, filings with the Public Utilities Commission, and tracking trends in consumer issues. He volunteered for UCAN during his second and third years of law school and completed an academic internship with the Federal Communications Commission.

“The Baker Fellowship gives me an opportunity to pursue a legal career in my preferred field with an organization whose mission and purpose I believe in, rather than looking for the best paycheck,” Scott said.

The fellowship was named after the late Adrianne Baker, who spent much of her career working for Legal Aid Society in San Diego after graduating from California Western in 1989. From 2002-2004, Baker served as acting director of diversity services and assistant dean of academic achievement at California Western.

Baker was a consistent advocate of careers in public defense and advocacy, and with these traits exemplified the spirit of California Western. Through the fellowship, her spirit and commitment to serving others lives on.

California Western invites alumni graduating within the last 10 years to apply for the Adrianne Baker fellowship. Applications should be submitted to the law school from Aug. 1-15. For more information, visit CaliforniaWestern.edu.

Submitted by California Western School of Law

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