Santa Clara University School of Law campus SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY

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44 SUMMER 2008 SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW— Dean Donald Polden Susan Kostal THE BAY AREA IS HOME TO SEVERAL WORLD-CLASS LAW SCHOOLS THAT PRODUCE TERRIFIC TALENT VALUABLE TO BASF AND THE LEGAL COMMUNITY. IN THIS ISSUE OF SAN FRANCISCO ATTORNEY, WE CONTINUE WITH OUR PROFILES OF THE DEANS OF SOME OF THESE LAW SCHOOLS, FEATURING THE GREAT WORK THEY’RE DOING TO TRAIN NEW ATTORNEYS. Santa Clara University School of Law campus

Transcript of Santa Clara University School of Law campus SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY

Page 1: Santa Clara University School of Law campus SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY

44 SUMMER 2008

SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITYSCHOOL OF LAW—

Dean Donald PoldenSusan Kostal

THE BAY AREA IS HOME TO SEVERAL WORLD-CLASS LAWSCHOOLS THAT PRODUCE TERRIFIC TALENT VALUABLE TOBASF AND THE LEGAL COMMUNITY. IN THIS ISSUE OF SANFRANCISCO ATTORNEY, WE CONTINUE WITH OUR PROFILES OFTHE DEANS OF SOME OF THESE LAW SCHOOLS, FEATURINGTHE GREAT WORK THEY’RE DOING TO TRAIN NEW ATTORNEYS.

Santa Clara University School of Law campus

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THE BAR ASSOCIATION OF SAN FRANCISCO SAN FRANCISCO ATTORNEY 45

Donald Polden was having a particularly goodday on the job this spring. As dean of SantaClara University School of Law, a post he as-sumed five years ago, he was moderating a

career advice panel for students. The panel was made up ofalumni, and they just happened to be in management at thearea’s most prestigious law firms,and those closest to the heart of thetech community—Mark Pitchford,CEO of Cooley Godward Kronish(’84); Andrew Valentine, managingpartner of DLA Piper’s East PaloAlto office and cochair of its patentlitigation group (’92); Rod Strick-land, securities litigation partner atWilson Sonsini Goodrich &Rosati, and one of the tech giant’shiring partners (’92); KatherineMeier, managing shareholder andpresident of Hoge Fenton Jones &Appel (’84); and Dennis Brown,managing shareholder of LittlerMendelson’s San Jose office (’86).

Both as the panel wrapped up andas he made the short stroll to his of-fice, Polden fielded numerouswishes of congratulations. Earlierthat week, US News and World Re-port published its much touted,and always controversial, rankings of law schools. SantaClara jumped fourteen slots, from ninety-one to seventy-seven. That put the school once again within the top tier ofthe best one hundred schools. The magazine lauded the lawschool, founded in 1912, as one of the most diverse studentbodies in the nation; 40 percent of its student body are eth-nic minorities. The magazine ranks its IP program as theeighth best in the nation. On top of that, university presi-dent Paul Locatelli had just announced that Polden wouldremain as dean for another five years.

The continued dominance of technology, and the lawschool’s focus on tech, account for some of the school’s

bump in the rankings. The school has a total of 925 students and receives some 4,000 applications for the 300 seats in each incoming class. Its part-time program isparticularly popular with engineers destined for patent law or other tech practices; between a third and a quarter of its evening division students are working engineers and

technologists from Silicon Valley.

The school has hit the news inother ways recently. It is home tothe Northern California Inno-cence Project (NCIP), which hashad several exonerations that havegarnered press and attention, including from Silicon Valley in-vestment banker Frank Quat-trone, whose own brush with thecriminal justice system promptedhim to donate to NCIP.

Polden would not disclose theamount Quattrone donated, butcalled it “really quite substantial”and confirmed Quattrone hadnot donated to the law school oruniversity in the past. Polden re-counts, “He tells the story ofreading one day in the newspa-per, the San Jose Mercury News,

about the exoneration of John Stoll [Stoll served nearly 20years in prison before his conviction of child molestationcharges was shown by NCIP and the California InnocenceProject to have been based on false testimony]. This cameat a critical point in his own indictment. He thought, thisman is living my worst nightmare. He became enamoredwith the story and called here, to meet with Cookie Ri-dolfi,” who directs the project.

It turns out, Polden goes on to say, that Quattrone and hiswife, Denise, grew up within a block or two of Ridolfi inPhiladelphia. “He and Denise have been generous in theirown right, but they have also introduced us to his friends,”

All photos by Charles Barry except as noted.

Dean Donald Polden

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46 SUMMER 2008

Polden says. Quattrone now serves as chair of NCIP’s advisory board and was honored, among others, at NCIP’sJustice for All Awards Dinner in March.

This may account, in part, for the success of a recent capi-tal campaign. The school hit its target of $12 million twentymonths earlier than it forecast, and then exceeded the goalby 40 percent, ultimately raising $17 million. The moneywill go for scholarships, professorships, and academic pro-grams, including the school’s legal clinics and high-tech lawcenter. The campaign wasanounced just before Polden assumed the position ofdean, in 2003. He spentmuch of the early part of histenure meeting alumni. “Idid eighty alumni events inthree years,” he says.

There has been a steady risein nearly all the university’smetrics, not just giving. It hasadded more faculty and enlarged its library. Its directexpenditure spending perstudent has risen steadily.And its bar pass rate hassteadily increased, and mostrecently was four percentagepoints higher than the state average.

The law school has also created a new department, StudentAcademic and Professional Development, headed by Ma-rina Hsieh, who came to Santa Clara after teaching at theUniversity of Maryland School of Law and UC BerkeleySchool of Law. The department offers academic support forthe lowest quartile of the student body, as well as mentoringand enrichment programs open to the entire student body.The school has ten full-time faculty devoted to workingwith students on their writing and analytical abilities.

This is not Polden’s first stint on the Santa Clara campus.After his father, a career army officer, returned from Korea,

he came to teach military science at Santa Clara, from 1959to 1962. At the time, the school was all male, and ROTCwas a required program. “Many of my father’s students weresome of the school’s best student athletes,” Polden says, andthey included Leon Panetta and at least a dozen of the area’sjudges. A junior high student at the time, Polden was “a big-time Broncos fan.”

After graduating from law school, Polden taught antitrustand corporate law at Drake University Law School in Des

Moines, Iowa, from 1975 to1993. He spent a year at theUniversity of Louisville’s LouisD. Brandeis School of Law asa visiting professor, and thenserved as dean of the Cecil C.Humphreys School of Law atthe University of Memphisbefore being tapped to leadSanta Clara University Schoolof Law in 2003.

Polden says Santa Clara’s tra-ditional Jesuit values appeal totoday’s students. “Being onthis campus, being part of aJesuit Catholic university, hasinfused us with a lot of valuesthat are important to lawyers.Our center for social justice

and public interest reflects the same perspectives that Jesuitsworldwide think are important—the individual dignity ofpeople, the importance of a living wage, freedom from gov-ernment or corporate oppression. These values resonate withso many of our students that go on to work in nonprofits orNGOs [nongovernmental organizations].”

Which brings Polden to one of the concerns he would liketo address in the future. “Financing a legal education is oneof the greatest challenges we are facing,” he says. Tuition is$35,000 a year for a full-time student, making Santa Claraone of the most expensive private law schools in California.(Stanford, the University of Southern California, and Pep-perdine lead the pack, with Stanford at $40,880, though

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Stanford also awards nearly 80percent of its students financialaid, with an average fellowshipof $20,000 annually.)

Santa Clara is not able to offersimilar aid, making Santa Claramore expensive than Stanford.“For last year’s graduating class,the average student had a debtload of $100,000,” Polden says.That’s not unreasonable if a stu-dent walks into a Silicon Valleylaw firm with a starting salary of$160,000, but it looks daunting,to say the least, if a student optsfor a government job or non-profit that has a starting salary of$50,000 to $60,000. “We havecreated an endowment to pro-vide funds for students going into public interest work, toprovide at least partial payments toward their debt obliga-tions,” Polden says. “This is an area where we need to domore. We need to build our financial strength so we canlook at ways to reduce the growth in tuition, and grow ourfinancial resources, including our endowment,” which is$21million.

Polden has not been resting on his laurels, though. He hadjust finished prepping for the arrival of an American BarAssociation accreditation team. Each accredited law schoolis reviewed every seven years by a team of visiting aca demics.Pointing to a large binder, Polden says the documents willserve nicely as the basis for his next project, a strategic planfor the law school. “Our institutional planning is a littledated,” he concedes.

He’s also focusing on a project close to his own heart, edu-cating law students for leadership. He will have an essay onthe topic published in an upcoming issue of the Universityof Toledo Law Review.

Polden is described as both a gooddiplomat and a good salesperson.“A successful dean needs to be adiplomat, and Dean Polden doesthat very well,” says Eric Gold-man, assistant professor of IP anddirector of the school’s High TechLaw Institute. “But he’s also confi-dent in selling the school and per-suading people to his point ofview,” Goldman adds.

Goldman says that any dean “has alot of different constituencies he orshe needs to serve. I’m alwaysamazed at how many events thedean shows up at. I really appreci-ate it.” What’s more, Polden isblessed with the gift of brevity,Goldman says. “He usually gives

some opening remarks, and he always has a pretty goodjoke, and that’s not always easy to do. And he always keepsit brief. That’s a valuable commodity.”

Ridolfi, who leads the NCIP, says the dean has been a strongbacker of the school’s clinical programs, including NCIP.“NCIP requires a lot of watering and feeding, and he’s beensupportive of that. I think he has a very demonstrated com-mitment to the law school and to the public interest workof the Innocence Project. My sense is he genuinely caresabout the people we serve and values the experience we aregiving to law students.”

Polden and his wife have three grown children and live inMountain View. Aside from his academic duties, Poldentries to play golf as often as he can. “The great thing aboutmy job is we have graduates and friends who belong tosome of the world’s best golf courses, and they invite me toplay. And they always win. And that’s not a strategic mat-ter for me,” Polden says.

Susan Kostal is a longtime legal affairs writer based in San Francisco. She can be reached at [email protected].

THE BAR ASSOCIATION OF SAN FRANCISCO SAN FRANCISCO ATTORNEY 47