Hon. Timothy Weiner (LL.M. ’10) wants Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law students to keep an open mind and learn as much as possible about the area of law in which they’re interested.
And students would be wise to heed his advice — because after all, it worked for him. Weiner was just appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year.
But before his appointment — and before serving 15 years as a deputy attorney general for the California Department of Justice and two-and-a-half years as a Superior Court commissioner — Weiner was an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, fully intending on becoming a school psychologist. Although he was accepted to a Ph.D. program in educational psychology, he decided to try his hand in the private sector, where he worked for about five years as the director of operations for a marine electronics company.
So how does one go from school psychology to the marine electronics industry to becoming a Superior Court judge? It may not be as big of a stretch as it first seems. At least, not once you hear Weiner talk about the importance of volunteerism and service to the community.
“After working in the marine electronics industry, I decided that I wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on my community,” Weiner says. “I knew that whatever I did as a lawyer had to incorporate some type of public service. Working as a criminal prosecutor or public defender provides an outstanding opportunity to serve.”
Weiner reflects fondly on his time in the LL.M. program at the Fowler School of Law.
“I owe a lot to Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law and the opportunities it has provided,” says Weiner. “In any competitive market, there’s a tremendous number of talented people applying for limited spots. Getting an LL.M. from Fowler was a very positive accomplishment, and I have to believe that it helped to distinguish me from other qualified applicants.”
Another aspect of the Chapman experience that stood out to Weiner was the small class size.
“Career prosecutors from all over California and the military met in the program,” Weiner says. “Meeting and studying with a small group of experienced prosecutors was really great.”
Weiner continues his goal of service as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School and as a captain in the California State Military Reserve’s Legal Support Command. “I teach and talk to students a lot,” he says. “I always tell them to learn about different areas of law, so they can keep their options as open as possible.”
“For instance, I decided that I wanted to be a prosecutor, and just assumed I’d be a deputy district attorney. After learning about the work performed by state prosecutors, I ended up as a deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice – and loved it!”
With the Fowler School of Law’s practice-ready approach that includes legal clinics, internships, paid positions and numerous externships, students have many opportunities to explore their options the way Weiner did.
“There is nothing more important than externships,” says Weiner. “It’s where you meet people and try out your skills. It’s where you learn from people who are actually doing the work you want to do.”
So what’s next for Weiner? Disneyland?
“A place on the Superior Court bench has been my goal for such a long time that I truly haven’t given any thought to what might be next,” he says. “Right now, I’m just enjoying the opportunity to serve as a Superior Court judge.”