UCHastings Instagram

          The McAllister streetscape project concludes with a great day of tree planting! Nearly 100 volunteers gathered to plant 50 trees and two small urban gardens in over 30 locations throughout the #Tenderloin earlier this month.
          Instagram Photo Likes wxhx, ayosh27, its_yayasworld and 19 others like this.
          Friday, September 21, 2012

          Former Professor Makes Transition to Bench with Fairness, Candor and Grace

          The road from academia to the bench may be less traveled, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna J. Ryu says she covers some of the same territory in her current post as she did in her previous job as a clinical professor at UC Hastings.

          "There are definite connections between being a good teacher and being a good judge. Both require strong analytical skills and the ability to communicate well," says Ryu, who was appointed in 2010 to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. "In both instances, an important aspect of the job is to facilitate proceedings. In the classroom, my objective was to engage students in a full discussion of the learning goals. My job in the courtroom is to ensure that people have a fair opportunity to be heard and that I get the information I need to make a just decision."

          Ryu's professional experiences also have influenced aspects of her courtroom demeanor. "Transparency in decision making is a key aspect of justice. I try to explain things so that even if people get an adverse ruling, at least they know how I got there," she says. "As a judge, I work with lawyers and litigants from all walks of life. I try to put myself in their shoes, just as I did with my law students. I've found [that doing this] is a very important tool."

          Ryu launched her legal career at McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen in San Francisco. She later formed her own firm, Ryu Dickey & Larkin. She was an associate professor at Golden Gate University Law School before joining the UC Hastings faculty in 2002. At the UC Hastings Civil Justice Clinic (CJC), she worked with students to score a California Supreme Court victory in the landmark employee compensation case Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions, which led to a $1 million award of attorneys' fees to CJC.

          Among Ryu's many honors are the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for Employment Law, the Asian American Bar Association's Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy, and UC Hastings' Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her appointment marked many firsts for the Northern District of California: She is the first Asian American woman, first Korean American, and first lesbian to become a member of that bench.

          Yet even with her successful transition to the judiciary, Ryu admits that teaching is still in her blood. "I absolutely miss it," she says with a smile. "I pretty routinely warn [UC Hastings Academic Dean] Shauna Marshall that I will be knocking on her door soon to let me teach a class or two."

          [ADVICE CORNER]

          What advice would you give to law school professors who have their sights on becoming a trial court judge?

          Make sure you have well-rounded experience in managing and litigating cases: all the nuts and bolts of trials, all the work of the motions and discovery, and the pace of cases. These are things you really can't learn from a book.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Wednesday, July 01, 2015

          Thinkers & Doers: July 1, 2015

          UC Hastings community members in the news and making moves, June 20, 2015 - July 1, 2015.
          Tuesday, June 30, 2015

          Angela Bruno '07 Wins Landmark Case Against TGI Friday’s

          She and her husband formed a personal injury firm for trial cases that is proving successful.
          Tuesday, June 30, 2015

          Alumni Win Big in NBA’s 40 under 40 Awards

          Andrew Houston ’07, Bari Williams ’08, and Kasheica McKinney ’08 selected for the award.
          Wednesday, June 24, 2015

          State Budget Keeps Fees Flat, Funds Long-Range Campus Plan

          Enacted budget provides sufficient funding to allow UC Hastings to maintain student fees unchanged for the 4th consecutive year; Appropriates $36.8 million to construct a new academic building at 333 Golden Gate Ave; Authorizes use of private donations to supplement the state’s appropriation for building enhancements so as to fully leverage the opportunity to create a “top of class” facility commensurate with the college’s stature and prominence.
          Wednesday, June 24, 2015

          Academic Chairs Awarded to Four Faculty Members

          UC Hastings is pleased to announce Professors Field, Keitner, Reiss, and Short have all been appointed to new or existing faculty Chairs.
          Go to News Archive