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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Three Generations of Stellar Graduates Have UC Hastings In Their Genes

“We love UC Hastings,” Stuart Thompson '12 says. “It really is special to be part of that legacy.”
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Nancy Miller '78 and son Stuart Thompson '12 in San Francisco City Hall.

There’s pride in her voice when Nancy Miller ’78 says, “I always wanted to be a lawyer, and I always wanted to go to UC Hastings.”

Her late father, George Scott Miller ’49, had a private practice in Whittier, Calif., and planted the seeds of her ambition when she was just a young girl. At a time when women were the exception among law students, he told her she “would be a great lawyer” and inspired her with tales of how he had landed at UC Hastings after World War II, and fallen happily under the positive influence of Dean David E. Snodgrass, founder of the legendary 65 Club.

Snodgrass made his mark in bringing that eminent group of scholars and jurists to UC Hastings, but Miller knows of another of the dean’s effective recruiting efforts: encouraging ex-service members to apply to his law school. Miller’s father, the son of a Canadian provincial Supreme Court justice, had served in the Canadian navy, attended UCLA on an ice hockey scholarship, married her Californian mom, and become a U.S. citizen. Says Miller,

“My dad always felt that coming to UC Hastings was a real opportunity.”

Three decades later, Miller had the good fortune to be among the students studying under 65 Club faculty. She also recalls that UC Hastings was on the forefront of accepting women and minority students. While at UC Hastings, Miller worked with faculty and the career office to help place women and minority graduates. She has gone on to enjoy a successful private practice, as principal in her Sacramento firm of Miller & Owen, which focuses on public agency law. She also serves as chair of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s panel to select federal judges for the Northern District.

“UC Hastings gave me a great start,” Miller says, pinpointing skills she learned in law school that have easily translated to policy issues, which are her specialty—“breaking down a problem to its essence, figuring out what each side wants and what makes the most sense, thinking critically, being articulate on your feet.”

Which is precisely the sort of expertise she now has the pleasure of passing along to her son, Stuart Thompson ’12, who, after earning his UC Hastings degree, joined her firm as an associate and has since worked with her on several cases.

Like his mother and grandfather before him, Thompson values his UC Hastings training and his family’s deep connections to their alma mater. “We love UC Hastings,” Thompson says. “It really is special to be part of that legacy.”

Read more from The Enterprise Issue here.

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