Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thinkers & Doers: Dec. 18, 2013

Joseph Cotchett '64, Ann Ravel '74, Nancy Tellem '78, Jerome Pandell '08, Professor Robin Feldman, Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu, Research Fellow Brian Pascal
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Jerome Pandell '08

Joseph Cotchett '64

A Northern California judge Monday found three paint companies liable for exposing children to a known poison and ordered them to pay $1.1 billion Joe Cotchettinto a fund to remove lead from inside California homes, in litigation led by Joseph Cotchett '64.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled that ConAgra Grocery Products Co., NL Industries Inc. and the Sherwin-Williams Co. created a "public nuisance" by selling lead-based paint for decades before it was banned in 1978.

"The people who are affected are largely poor and minority children who live in old homes that haven't been repaired," Cotchett, an attorney for the cities and counties who backed the lawsuit, told the Los Angeles Times. Cotchett called Kleinberg’s findings a "landmark ruling that will dramatically improve the lives of children throughout the state."

Ann Ravel '74

Ann RavelAnn Ravel '74 was elected Vice Chair of the Federal Election Commission for 2014. She was nominated to the Commission this year by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate.

Before her appointment to the Commission, Ravel served as Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), where she oversaw the regulation of campaign finance, lobbyist registration and reporting, and ethics and conflicts-of-interest related to officeholders and public employees. Read more here.

Nancy Tellem '78

Nancy TellemNancy Tellem ‘78, president of the entertainment and digital media department of Microsoft, told Variety that the Xbox will have original programming by early 2014, including a new Halo series produced by Stephen Spielberg.

According to Tellem, who oversees development of a host of original content for Xbox Live TV, she was attracted to Microsoft because of her years at CBS and CW, where she closely monitored how content was changing websites and how people interacted with that content.

"I was always looking for the next thing," she explained to Variety. "Technology and the transition that was taking place was incredibly interesting to me. It's very exciting for me to be in this position right now and see how the business model evolves and how content evolves." Read more here.

Jerome Pandell '08

Jerome Pandell '08 (pictured at top) was in Washington D.C. for the recent White House Youth Summit on healthcare law, patient protection and the Affordable Care Act. Pandell has worked for President Obama as a volunteer and fundraiser since 2008, raising $250,000 for the president's reelection campaign in 2012. Obama spoke to the group, ages 16-35, and heard firsthand their own challenges getting health care insurance, Pandell said.

"These health care insurance protections are vitally important, especially for people my age and those in law school," Pandell said. "When you are a student, you don't have $7,500 laying around for medical bills. Paying as little as $25 a month is a very valuable investment in your future and peace of mind."

Pandell was also able to tour the White House and said the holiday decorations were "awesome." He did not see the First Dogs.

Professor Robin Feldman

Robin FeldmanProfessor Robin Feldman told the Silicon Valley Business Journal that her National Venture Capital Association study shows that most VCs have no interest in selling patents to trolls, even when it costs them.

Investors have little interest in giving patent trolls ammunition, either, Feldman told the paper. "Almost two-thirds said they wouldn't consider selling intellectual property to patent assertion entities," Feldman said, using the name scholars have for trolls.

That runs counter to some arguments made in Washington, D.C., that say trolls actually help innovation by providing a revenue option when a startup fails.

"Most startups and VCs in our study say they have no interest in selling their patents to patent assertion entities," Feldman said.

About three-quarters of VCs and 58 percent of startups said that patent demands had a significant impact on a company. Read more here.

Frank H. Wu

"Renegade" Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu was profiled by Lauren Everitt of Tipping the Scales. “You’re going to make me sound either like a visionary or a nut,” quips Frank Wu in the conference room of his San Francisco office. “I’m good with that … it’s hard to tell the difference.”

Wu compared law schools to Detroit autoworkers who wrongly assumed that when gasoline prices came down people would flock to American-made cars again. “They mistook the cycle for the long-term trend,” Wu points out. “I believe we’re living through profound structural change. It’s not a cycle,” he says of legal education. In other words, law schools can’t keep plugging away on their current course and expect everything to be hunky-dory after the recession. Legal education will have to undergo dramatic change, too." Read more here.

Brian Pascal

Brian PascalBrian Pascal, a research fellow at the Institute for Innovation at UC Hastings, told TechNewsWorld a federal judge made a gutsy move in ruling the NSA’s collection of telephone metadata is likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Leon "did one of the most difficult things a judge ever has to do -- deciding when precedent no longer applies," Brian Pascal, a research fellow at UC Hastings Law School Institute for Innovation, told TechNewsWorld. "Courts historically have had trouble drawing principled lines between past precedent and current facts based upon changes in technology."

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the United States National Security Agency's collection of telephone metadata is likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adding another point of debate to this volatile issue. Leon's ruling has extra impact because he is a conservative appointed by George W. Bush. Read more here.

Top 50 Women Lawyers in Northern California

SuperLawyers named its annual Top 50 Women Lawyers in Northern California. UC Hastings alumnae include:

  • Deborah Ballati '75
  • Kathryn Dickson '76
  • Marcy Bergman '77
  • Sandi Nichols '81
  • Nanci Clarence '85
  • Susan Kaye '88
  • Jill Mondry '91
  • Jenny Weld '97
  • Chantel Fitting '99

Read the full list here.

--December 18, 2013

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