Category: Legal News/Opinions

Dean Dizon Demystifies the Grading Curve

By Shane Dizon, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievementshane_dizon

It is with mixed emotions that I write this Commentary article, knowing it is one of the last (if not the last) opportunity I will get to address all of you while still playing the role of Dean Dizon. For those of you who do not know, I will be moving on to Brooklyn Law School to join its faculty as the Director of its Academic Success Program. It was a difficult decision for my family and me to reach, and I will dearly miss working with you, the faculty, and the staff of this great learning community.

But there is, at present, no time for tears. Only for “sweat equity,” as they call it in the business world – earning and owning a piece of the enterprise – in this case, your success as a law student and your solid foundational preparation for the bar exam.

Yet rather than bombard you with platitudes of how you should be doing every practice exam in sight and be prepared to put in the long hours to earn every point, I’m writing this article at your editors’ request to explain the grading curve in a bit more detail (for more information, you can also see Cal Western’s Academic Policies in full). Continue reading “Dean Dizon Demystifies the Grading Curve”

From Chris & Sara — Editors’ message

Dear Readers,

It has been our absolute honor and privilege to bring student journalism into the digital era at California Western. The Commentary started in 1973 as a print newspaper, carried forward by the hundreds of students over the past four decades who were willing to invest their time and talent into making student journalism a reality. We thank those students for their commitment to student journalism and for sustaining this valuable publication, bringing The Commentary into its current age.

This year, we decided to do something different. In November of last year, we launched the first-ever Commentary website. Although we value the importance of print journalism, we first and foremost wanted to make the news accessible, shareable, and interactive — and we felt that the online platform was the best way to do so, given the ubiquity of the Internet and social media.

With the support of a group of students who believed in us and our mission, we were able to launch our site and bring school and legal news into students’ lives. We were able to show you funny pictures of Professor Smith at the SBA Halloween auction. We were able to inform students on important legal issues such as California education reform, Cal Western student satisfaction statistics, and SBA elections. And we were able to highlight the awesome talent of our own students, such as our Moot Court teams that competed last fall, as well as our student organizations and journals that have hosted successful and impactful events, both on and off-campus. Continue reading “From Chris & Sara — Editors’ message”

New Elective This Fall: Q&A with Professor Ebrahim

Ebrahim headshotIn late June 2017, Tabrez Ebrahim, a Texas-raised patent attorney born in India, began his weeklong road trip from Houston, Texas, to San Diego, California. Just weeks later, he would begin teaching classes at California Western, marking the start of his first full-time teaching position.

Before pursuing a career in law, Prof. Ebrahim was a R&D engineer in Silicon Valley and attended Stanford University to attain his Master’s in mechanical engineering, as well as a graduate certificate in entrepreneurship.  He later earned both his JD and MBA from Northwestern University, before returning to his home state of Texas to eventually attain his LLM in Intellectual Property and Information Law from the University of Houston Law Center. Prof. Ebrahim also worked as a full-time patent attorney in Texas prior to joining the Cal Western faculty.

The Commentary sat down with Prof. Ebrahim to ask him about his journey, his experience at Cal Western, and his new IP elective course, Transactional Intellectual Property, that he will be offering in Fall 2018. Continue reading “New Elective This Fall: Q&A with Professor Ebrahim”

Networking tips for every setting

By Matthew Lab, Assistant Director of Career and Professional Development Office

The Career and Professional Development Office is excited about the career development programs and opportunities that we have prepared for this term.  This time of year presents many opportunities for you to develop your networking skills.  Networking is probably the most important non-legal skill that you will develop during law school.  For law students and lawyers alike, networking is and will continue to be a crucial aspect of your career development. It is a method through which we make new friends and establish valuable contacts; learn about different practice areas and career paths; promote ourselves and our employer; cultivate new clients; increase our self-confidence; and develop our professional presence.

The idea of networking evokes many emotions and almost none of them are good.  Networking can be intimidating and somewhat awkward.  Most of us have stood at the edge of a room at a “networking” event, wanting to speak with someone, but felt awkward or apprehensive about how to initiate the conversation.  Such feelings are normal.  After all, you are striking up a conversation with a total stranger. The good news is that networking gets easier with practice.  Truly, you get points merely for showing up; because the more events you attend, the more familiar faces you will see, and the more comfortable you will become.  Here are a few tips to help get you started: Continue reading “Networking tips for every setting”

Join the ABA! Message from Cal Western’s ABA representative

By Nick Aliquo, SBA American Bar Association Representative

Nick Aliquo

Hello everyone! My name is Nicholas Aliquo and I am your American Bar Association (ABA) Representative here at California Western. I’m assuming most of you, if not, all of you know that one of the many perks of attending California Western is that we are an ABA-accredited law school. However, not all students actually know what the ABA is and what the ABA can do for you. My job is to help fix that.

The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members. There are 205 institutions that are ABA approved. The ABA is committed to serving its members, improving the legal profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity as well as advancing the rule of law throughout the United States and around the world. Membership is open to law students (hey that’s you!), lawyers (that will soon be you) and those just curious and interested in the legal profession (hopefully you). Now I know you’re wondering: okay, this all sounds great, but why should I care about these three letters or three words? Well, let me tell you! Continue reading “Join the ABA! Message from Cal Western’s ABA representative”

9 tips on how to rock the interview

By Matthew Lab, Assistant Director of Career and Professional Development Office

Let’s face it: law job interviews can be stressful, especially for the uninitiated.  Now that the spring recruiting season is upon us, many of you have already or will soon interview for legal internships or post-graduate positions.  So, why do employers interview?  Isn’t your brilliant cover letter and resume enough to convince them that you are the perfect candidate?  Not likely.

Employers interview simply because the information presented in your application materials only presents a “snapshot” of the candidate, which by its nature cannot accurately reflect the entire person. Meeting a candidate allows the interviewer to confirm his or her initial impressions as to your qualifications and to evaluate how you will perform tasks, respond to clients, and how well you will fit in and work with the rest of the team. Keep in mind that an interview is nothing more than a focused “conversation.”  As such, students need to express their value and indicate what sets them apart from other candidates. The following tips should increase your chances of a successful conversation. Continue reading “9 tips on how to rock the interview”

Academic Achievement: 7 Tips for Planning Forward after Grades Release

By Shane Dizon, Assistant Dean for Academic Achievementshane_dizon

If you’re reading this, you’re about to look up your grades or already have. If you’re in the former camp, take a deep breath. Remember, you’ve accomplished a lot thus far, and you’re still the same good human being before or after. If you’re in the latter camp . . . well, do exactly what I just said anyways.

It occurred to me that I could just write some improvisation on the good old “7 Stages of Grief” – shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, hope – but that’s probably not why you’re here. So I want to honor your experience and try to modify that message to law school. Continue reading “Academic Achievement: 7 Tips for Planning Forward after Grades Release”

SBA VP’s announcements

Valerie photo

By Valerie Gurrola, Student Bar Association Vice President


Between now and Jan. 30, email your nominations for Professor of the Year, Adjunct Professor of the Year, and Staff Member of the Year to Students are asked to submit one nomination per category. These awards are determined entirely by student votes, and the winners will be announced at Barrister’s Ball on Mar. 3, so be sure to make your vote count! Based on the nominations, SBA will release a final ballot with several candidates per category in early February.


If you want to attend Barrister’s Ball but were not able to get a ticket, please email as soon as possible to reserve your spot on the wait list. In your email, include the number of tickets you would like (up to 2) and any dietary restrictions. Based on the number of wait-listed students, SBA may be able to secure extra tickets from the venue. More information will come soon!

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding faculty/staff awards, Barrister’s Ball wait list, or other SBA-related matters. Have a great spring trimester!

Contact Valerie Gurrola at


Finals advice from Academic Achievement

By Shane Dizon, Assistant Dean for Academic Achievementshane_dizon

With November upon us, the specter of final exams looms large. Here are nine tips to ensure that your hard work does not go for naught come December, and that you are building the skills needed for consistent success on both law school exams and on the bar exam.

1 ~ Schedule and adjust

An expert law student wins the scheduling battle at the daily, weekly, and big-picture levels. Consistently create and refine a study schedule at the daily and weekly levels. Always assess the schedule at the end of each day and make the necessary adjustments. Not doing everything you planned is not per se a bad thing, but not adjusting after falling short is. Continue reading “Finals advice from Academic Achievement”

Letter from SBA President

Jesse photoHello, Cal Westerners! Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year. My name is Jesse Schram, and it is my pleasure to serve as your Student Bar Association President.

SBA’s duty is to ensure that every student’s voice will be listened to and subsequently acted upon. We are the link between the student body and our school’s administration, faculty, and alumni. We encourage every student to contribute to our school’s decisions, to attend networking events and other functions, and to utilize the resources offered by various Cal Western departments. I greatly urge everyone to join at least one student organization and to contribute to SBA’s mission to improve our school.

We are a tight community here at Cal Western. We are a diverse group of like-minded individuals who learn together, work together, and grow together. I look forward to a unified effort to elevate Cal Western’s positive environment, reputation, and prestige.

This is our school, this is our future, and this is our SBA. Let’s get after it!

Contact Jesse Schram at