Paying it forward In law firms, executive offices, and courthouses, Fowler School of Law’s alumni network fosters meaningful connections
December 7, 2020
From international law firms and corporate legal departments to nonprofits and the public sector, multiple generations of Chapman University Fowler School of Law graduates can be found flourishing together across the legal industry, thanks to the extensive reach of the Orange County law school’s alumni network.
Tina Hanley (JD ’11) says she was aided by a host of Fowler School of Law alumni on her journey to where she is today: a deputy district attorney in the Orange County District Attorney’s office. Those people include Bradley Schoenleben (JD ’07) and Kelly Manley (JD ’11), both deputy district attorneys in the same office.
So now Hanley pays it forward—which is why she drove to Chapman University one evening in October 2019 to help Jossie Gutierrez (JD ’20), who was applying to be an Orange County District Attorney’s Fellow after graduation. Hanley helped her prepare a courtroom opening statement—an exercise required for her fellowship interview.
“Tina was amazing,” says Gutierrez, who was president of Fowler Law’s Minority Law Students Association from 2018 to 2020. “She told me what I did well, but she also showed me all the ways I could improve.”
That included tips about courtroom presence: the need to project your voice, to not stand in one place, to command the room—even what to wear. Gutierrez won the fellowship and started work in October.
It’s fulfilling to help Chapman Law students navigate the job-search process, says Hanley, whose husband, Blake Hanley (JD ’10), is also a Fowler Law school alumnus.
“So many people helped me,” she says. “I remember being in Jossie’s situation. You’re so nervous to apply and you have no idea what to expect.”
A Network of Support
Hanley and Gutierrez are among the many Fowler Law graduates who have benefited from Chapman’s alumni network, as evidenced by the multiple generations of former students flourishing in firms, companies and courtrooms throughout the legal field.
“It’s been a pretty tight-knit group in terms of the alumni connection,” says Nikole Kingston (JD ’05), a partner in the Newport Beach office of the venerable law giant O’Melveny & Myers.
Kingston has actively recruited Fowler Law graduates, including Hope Blain (JD ’19), now an associate in the same office. Blain recalls the reassuring feeling she got when Kingston and O’Melveny & Myers counsel Kelly Wood (JD ’09) interviewed her on campus.
“The fact that we had the same professors, the same experiences, was really important in my interview process,” Blain says. “I just kind of felt at home with them.”
Kingston says you know exactly what you’re getting with Chapman graduates—people who are hard-working and highly skilled. “We’ve had great success with a number of Chapman grads here,” she says.
Fowler School of Law alumni praise the school’s commitment to helping its students prosper post-graduation, citing access to networking events, internships and the Career Services Office. Career Services advisors are particularly vital, they say, helping with resume preparation, job applications, and connecting law students with always-receptive alumni.
“For me, reaching out to alumni was really my lifeline,” says Alexis Fasig (JD ’20), a summer associate for O’Melveny & Myers in 2019, who received an offer to join the firm as a litigation associate after taking the state bar exam.
“When I was going through interviews, I was always able to reach out to at least one Chapman alum, whether it was a phone call, an email exchange, or even going to their office or getting coffee with them,” Fasig says. “You find out information that you simply can’t find by doing research online.”
Lauren Fitzpatrick (JD ’18) says she benefited from her Chapman connections in myriad ways. Through Fowler School of Law Dean Matthew Parlow, she was introduced to Katie Rodin ’01 (JD ’05), executive vice president and chief legal officer for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center.
“The fact that Katie was a fellow alum was part of the reason I have my position today,” says Fitzpatrick, who was hired as associate counsel for the organization. “She was looking to hire an attorney, and when I went for an interview, it was great to have the connection with her of graduating from Chapman.”
Not only does she love sharing the law school link with her boss, Rodin, but several other Chapman University alumni also work for the organization.
“It’s exciting to see Chapman’s name in the community more, and to be able to represent Chapman in my professional life,” Fitzpatrick says.
For her part, Rodin, who regularly returns to campus to participate in career panels, says it’s important to her to showcase the talent of Fowler Law grads.
“The best way for me to do that,” she says, “is to bring Chapman alumni into the fold and shine the light on them.”