Monday, October 22, 2018

Yale Law School Welcomes Alumni for Reunion 2018

More than a thousand Law School alumni and their families gathered in New Haven on October 19–21 for Alumni Weekend 2018.

Media on Elections PanelThe weekend featured panels on clinical education, media and elections, and talking across party lines, as well as an Award of Merit ceremony and State of the School address with Dean Heather Gerken.

During her address to alumni, Dean Gerken welcomed graduates back and talked about some of the major recent milestones in the life of the Law School, most notably the addition of Baker Hall, the first expansion of the campus since 1931.

“So many of you had told deans prior to me how much it mattered to live and learn in the same place in the great tradition of the Sterling Law Building,” said Gerken. “Baker is a wonderful moment for us.”

For photo highlights of the reunion weekend, click here.

Watch videos of some weekend events.

Gerken also highlighted how the current three classes make up the most diverse student body in the School’s history, a change accomplished with more robust recruiting practices.  

Focusing on the extraordinary clinic work, Gerken named some highlights of the cases that have made national impact — like the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) helping to reunite children with their families and the Veterans Legal Services Clinic winning the right for veterans to bring class actions, overturning decades of case law.

“Eighty percent of the students engage in clinical work of a scope and ambition that is just unknown at any other school,” said Gerken.

Carmela Castellano-GarciaCarmela Castellano-Garcia ’91, President and CEO of the California Primary Care Association (CPCA) and President of the Castellano Family Foundation, was the recipient of the Award of Merit, which recognizes alumni or longtime faculty of Yale Law School who have made a substantial contribution to public service or to the legal profession.

“A model for using positions of privilege in the service of others, she embodies the very best of this School,” said Dean Gerken. “For more than 25 years, she has dedicated herself to delivering healthcare to California’s most vulnerable communities.”

Castellano-Garcia has been committed to advancing multicultural health policy issues for more than 25 years, focusing on cultural and linguistic competency in health care delivery, ensuring the viability of safety net providers, health care reform, and access to care for vulnerable populations. The Castellano Family Foundation has donated more than $5 million in grants to Santa Clara County nonprofits supporting Latino education, arts and culture, leadership, and diversity. The Castellano Family Foundation also continually supports these local organizations guided by the values of community, family, social change, empathy, and integrity.

“Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to advocate on behalf of those who have no voice in the halls of Sacramento and our nation’s capital… I have worked on important issues including access to health care, women’s reproductive rights, affirmative action, immigration reform, and language access among others. For Yale Law School to acknowledge that fighting for the rights of our most marginalized and vulnerable populations has merit in the midst of great national turmoil concerning these very issues and communities, it feels like justice to me.”

At the ceremony, Dean Gerken also gave a very special honor to Associate Dean of Alumni Affairs Toni Hahn Davis ’92 LL.M, who is retiring at the end of the year after decades of service to the Law School. Davis transformed the alumni affairs office and has worked to foster valuable connections between the School and the thousands of alumni around the world.

Speaking about Davis’s warmth and wisdom, Gerken then presented her with the second-ever Dean’s Award for Extraordinary Service for lengthy record of accomplishments. 

Other highlights of the Weekend included the class dinners and brunches, a student/alumni breakfast, diversity events, class activities, and time to explore New Haven.