In a likely first for an alumnus of the Fowler School of Law, Bryan F. Clavecilla (JD ’07) was appointed to serve as a judge in the Orange County Superior Court by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 29, 2024–filling the vacancy left by Judge Linda Marks’ retirement. Previously Clavecilla served as a Commissioner for the Orange County Superior Court as well as a Senior Deputy District Attorney and Assistant Head of Court at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Central Justice Center.

Clavecilla joined the District Attorney’s Office after graduating and carved out a career for himself prosecuting sexual assault and human trafficking cases, mitigating any antipathy for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) cases through his enduring affinity for the victim-centered approach–still in the early stages of development and adoption at the time, along with a strongly held personal drive to serve his community with fairness, civility and respect.

Clavecilla attributes some of his career success to the solid foundation he received from his teachers while at Chapman. In particular, former dean of Fowler School of Law, Scott Howe, who helped to nurture Clavecilla’s early dedication to criminal law, he credits the late Nancy Schultz with introducing him to a passionate brand of advocacy, dispute resolution, and the practicalities of presenting a case in a courtroom. “Some of my lifelong best friends came out of the Chapman culture and student body,” Clavecilla adds, giving a nod to judicial peers and fellow Fowler alumni like the Honorable Gary Polk (JD ’08), another Fowler graduate recently appointed to the bench in Riverside County.

“Chapman was fantastic preparation for this,” Clavecilla observes, explaining how, as a pre-law student, he specifically selected Chapman for its reputation for training trial-ready attorneys, “[at Chapman] we learned about values like civility, respect, doing the right thing and serving your community,” he says.

With a focus squarely on criminal law during his studies, Clavecilla sought out a role in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office immediately after graduation, where he hoped to bring deeply held values like respect, civility, and fairness to bear on his work as a young prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office. Fast forward sixteen years, and a slightly older, considerably wiser Judge Bryan Clavecilla reflects on a distinguished career track hewn out in the District Attorney’s Office and his recent appointment to the bench by the governor of California with remarkable modesty. If anything, his new appointment seems to have further galvanized his determination to continue his pursuit of the same values of fairness, civility, and respect, along with his immense love of justice that first interested him in practicing law.

What are his plans for the future? Clavecilla is unequivocal, “I’m exactly where I need to be [now],” he adds with a smile, reinforcing his commitment to serving his community–the touchstone of the distinguished career of this Fowler alumnus.

We congratulate this remarkable Chapman alumnus and his exceptional achievement in this wonderful new appointment.