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Meet the Professors

Law School

Your success is important to us at Empire College. Read more about the professors in the Law School that are here to help you succeed.

Jeffrey L. Berk
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from University of San Francisco School of Law (cum laude), Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Michigan State University

Professional Experience: Professor Berk has been working as a Deputy County Counsel for Sonoma County since 1992, where he provides advice for various county departments, the Sonoma County Employees' Retirement Association, and the Grand Jury. Professor Berk previously worked at the law frim of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco.

Memberships: California State Bar, Sonoma County Bar Association

History at Empire College: Professor Berk has taught Legal Skills at Empire Law School since 1999.

Kadin Blonski
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the Empire School of Law (magna cum laude), Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine

Professional Experience: Professor Blonski's practice focuses on real estate, landlord/tenant, and business law. He does both litigation and transactional work. Professor Blonski believes in his role as an advocate and partner for his clients. His driving focus whether litigating cases or working on a transaction is to achieve a positive outcome for his clients.

Memberships: California State Bar, Sonoma County Bar Association

History at Empire College: Professor Blonski has been involved with the Small Claims Advisory program at Empire School of Law since 2005. He is currently the supervising attorney/professor. In 2010 Professor Blonski was recognized for his exceptional teaching ability, receiving the Excellence in Education Award (four-year college category) sponsored by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Education and Business Partnership.

Adam Brown
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the Franklin Pierce - University of New Hampshire School of Law, Bachelor of Arts from Hartwick College

Professional Experience: Professor Brown is the Executive Director of Disability Services & Legal Center. Professor Brown, an attorney, has been employed by DSLC since 1997, serving as Legal Director for the agency, and additionally managing Empire Law School's Disability Law Clinic. Prior to joining DSLC, Professor Brown was employed by the Massachusetts Office on Disability in Boston, MA and the Disability Rights Center, Inc. in Concord, NH.

Memberships: California Bar Association

History at Empire College: Professor Brown has taught Administrative Law/Disability Practice since 2000.

David Carr
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from University of San Diego School of Law, Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Santa Cruz

Professional Experience: Professor Carr has been practicing law for 25 years: in private practice, as both a public defender and prosecutor, and presently as civil trial counsel in the Attorney General's Office.

Memberships: California Bar Association

History at Empire College: Professor Carr primarily teaches Torts and has also taught Criminal, Administrative, and Juvenile Law courses.

Janice Downey
J.D., A.S.
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Education: Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from Empire School of Law, Associate of Science from College of Marin, California

Professional Experience: Professor Downey opened her law practice in Windsor in early 2009. The Law Office of Janice Downey specializes in family law matters including divorce, domestic partnership issues, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and modifications of orders. Professor Downey also devotes one day per month providing pro bono family law legal services to the public.

Memberships: American Bar Association, California State Bar, Sonoma County Bar Association, Windsor Chamber of Commerce

History at Empire College: Professor Downey has taught and supervised the Self Help Access Center clinical education course at Empire College since 2011.

 

Patrick W. Emery
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis; Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University (cum laude)

Professional Experience: Professor Emery has been a trial lawyer in Sonoma County for over 35 years. His efforts have resulted in his recognition as a Super Lawyer of Northern California and his inclusion in Best Lawyers in America. In addition, he is one of only six practicing attorneys in Sonoma County elected to the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Professor Emery's trial experience extends to personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from many types of accidents, product failures and medical negligence events. He is also experienced in major consumer class actions.

Memberships: American College of Trial Lawyers, American Board of Trial Advocates, Sonoma County Bar Association (President, 1986), Sonoma County Fairs and Expositions (President, 1992-1993), Sonoma County Civil Service Commission (Chairman, 1999), Volunteer Center of Sonoma County (President, 2004-2006), The State Bar of California, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Consumer Attorneys of California

History at Empire College: Professor Emery has taught Trial Practice at Empire College since 1993.

Richard C. Gould
L.L.B.
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Education: L.L.B. from Lincoln University School of Law

Professional Experience: A California attorney, a mediator, and a licensed real estate broker, Professor Gould is also an Americans with Disabilities Act/California Building Code consultant. His civil litigation, real estate experience, and ADA consulting have spanned over 20 years, and he has been a commercial mediator for over 15 years.

Memberships: State Bar of California and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution. Professor Gould actively participates on several panels, including the Multi-Option ADR Project (San Mateo County Courts), Mediation and Arbitration Referral Service (Sonoma County Courts), Santa Clara County Courts Mediation Panel, United States Postal Service Mediation Panel, University of California at San Francisco Problem Resolution Center Mediation Panel, and the Marin County Courts Mediation Referral Panel.

History at Empire College: Professor Gould has taught Torts and Americans with Disabilities Act at Empire College since 1992. He is also an adjunct law professor at John F. Kennedy University Law School and San Francisco Law School. Mr. Gould sits on the ADA Committee at Empire College.

Hon. Allan Hardcastle
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, Sacramento; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of the Pacific, Stockton

Professional Experience: Professor Hardcastle has been a Judge of the Sonoma County Courts since 1997. He was Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Division from 2010-2011, Presiding Judge in 2003-2004, and Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division in 2001-2002. Prior to that, Professor Hardcastle was a Military Judge for the U.S. Army Reserves, presiding over Army court martials, and a civil trial practice attorney.

Memberships: California Judges Association; Board of Directors, University of the Pacific Alumni Association; Member, United States Army Reserve, Rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Professor Hardcastle is a graduate of the B.E. Witkin Judicial College of California and Military Judges Course, Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1989 he was named "Boss of the Year" by the Sonoma County Legal Secretaries Association.

History at Empire College: Professor Hardcastle has taught Evidence at Empire College since 2005.

Jennifer Hendrickson
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the Empire School of Law, Bachelor of Arts, Arizona State University

Professional Experience: Professor Hendrickson started her legal career as a law clerk for Abbey, Weitzenberg, Warren & Emery in Santa Rosa in 2006. After law school, she worked for the insurance defense firm Law Offices of Gerald Desmond, and then Hendrickson Legal Services. She has worked as a solo practitioner since January 2010. Currently, Professor Hendrickson practices in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense Civil Litigation.

Memberships: National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys

History at Empire College: Professor Hendrickson has taught Moot Court at Empire College since 2011.

Roger Illsley
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California, Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of California, Davis

Professional Experience: Professor Illsley practices in the areas of real estate, business transactions and estate planning with the law firm of Perry, Johnson, Anderson, Miller & Moskowitz, LLP. He handles wills and trusts, probate, small business formation (corporations and limited liability companies), and a broad range of business and real estate transactions. He has practiced law in Sonoma County since 1980.

Memberships: California State Bar, Sonoma County Bar Association

History at Empire College: Professor Illsley has taught Contracts at Empire College since 1988.

Rob Jackson
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis; Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Davis (magna cum laude)

Professional Experience: Following admission to the California State Bar, Professor Jackson was a research attorney for the Sonoma County Superior Courts and worked as an associate in a number of firms, becoming a partner of O'Brien, Watters, Malisch & Piasta. He later worked as a senior trial attorney in the San Francisco office of corporate counsel for State Farm Insurance Companies. He is now a partner with Kelly, Jackson & Christianson, LLP handling primarily civil litigation in personal injury, construction, employment, professional negligence, general commercial environmental, and governmental entity liability cases.

Memberships: The State Bar of California, Sonoma County Bar Association, Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court in Sonoma County, City of Santa Rosa Board of Community Services

History at Empire College: Professor Jackson has taught Professional Responsibility at Empire College since 1990.

Daniel Lanahan
J.D.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from San Francisco Law School

Professional Experience: Professor Lanahan's entire legal career encompasses two law firms, one for 26 years and the firm he founded, Lanahan & Reilley. Professor Lanahan has represented hundreds of corporations including start-ups in various business transactions and litigations. The great majority of his work over the past 40 years has involved the trial of civil cases representing both plaintiffs and defendants, most often in complex litigations, class actions and what is known as "mass tort" litigation. During his past 40 years in the practice of law, he has often pursued other interests, including working as a police officer.

Memberships: International Association of Defense Counsel; North Bay Leadership Council; board member, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Foundation, Sonoma State University Academic Foundation and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

History at Empire College: Professor Lanahan instructs the class, Notable Cases of the 20th Century and is the author of Justice for All: Legendary Trials of the 20th Century .

Keith Langan
J.D., B.S.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from Golden Gate University School of Law, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of San Francisco

Professional Experience: Professor Langan has practiced law for almost 30 years. He is Senior Counsel in the General Counsel's Office of Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. He provides legal counsel on insurance underwriting and regulatory matters. He is the Designated Counsel for Commercial Products and Market Conduct matters.

Memberships: California State Bar. He is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and a member of the CPCU Society. He is currently co-Vice Chair of the CPCU Society's Regulatory and Legislative Interest Group. Professor Langan has taught numerous insurance educational courses for the Insurance Education Association. He was named Insurance Professional of the Year by the Golden Gate Chapter of CPCU in 1998. In 1999 he was recognized for Outstanding Achievement by the American Council of Education.

History at Empire College: Professor Langan has taught Insurance Law and Introduction to Law since 2000.

Kathleen Pozzi
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from Empire College School of Law, Bachelor of Arts in Government from University of San Francisco

Professional Experience: Professor Pozzi began her career as a law clerk in 1986. She quickly accelerated from a Public Defender Level One to Level Four. After that she was made Chief Deputy to the Assistant Public Defender until her appointment in 2012 as Sonoma County Public Defender.

Memberships: Sonoma County Women in Law, Marco Polo Society of Legal Practitioners, Sonoma County Bar Association, California Public Defenders Association, California Trial Lawyers Association, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice

History at Empire College: Professor Pozzi has taught Criminal Law since 1990. She has also served as a member of the Academic Standards Committee, Faculty Hiring Committee, Scholarship Committee, and the Dean Selection Committee. Professor Pozzi helped implement and participates in the oversight of a clinical program for Empire law students at the Sonoma County Public Defender's Office.

Becky Rasmason
J.D., B.S.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from Empire Law School, Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University

Professional Experience: In 2005 Professor Rasmason established the Family Law Center in Santa Rosa to provide legal assistance to individuals who otherwise could not afford an attorney. The center is designed to accommodate those individuals who need legal assistance on a limited basis. In addition to serving on various boards and committees, Professor Rasmason also serves as a Fee Arbitrator for the Sonoma County Bar, a volunteer at Sonoma County Legal Aid, and a volunteer in the family law division of the Superior Court.

Memberships: Sonoma County Bar Association; California Bar Association; American Bar Association; Sonoma County Women in Law (President, 1999); Sonoma County Bar, Family Law Section (Chair, 2002); Family Law Local Rules Committee (Chair 2007-2009)

History at Empire College: Professor Rasmason has taught at the Self Help Access Center (SHAC) at Empire College since 2005. In 2009 Professor Rasmason was recognized for her exceptional teaching ability, receiving the Excellence in Education Award (four-year college category) sponsored by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Education and Business Partnership.

Holly Rickett
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from University of California, Hastings; Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) from the University of Idaho

Professional Experience: Professor Rickett has experience representing clients in various areas of law.

Memberships: Board member, Sonoma County Bar Association; board member and past-president, Sonoma County Women in Law; board member and host family with The Family Connection; board member, Lawyers Referral Service; member of PEO, sponsoring women through educational philanthropy

History at Empire College: Professor Rickett oversees the Clinical Education Program, matching students with law firms needing interns.

Viveka Rydell
J.D., B.A.
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Education: UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) 1997, Stanford University Graduate School of Business’ 2-week Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders 2008, B.A. English with Honors from UCLA 1993.

Professional Experience: Before joining PDI Surgery Center in 1996 to head up the start-up of this new organization that opened its doors in January 2008, Professor Rydell worked for eight years as a litigator, first with Bingham McCutchen, and subsequently with Coblentz Patch, Duffy & Bass in San Francisco.  Throughout her legal career, Professor Rydell also provided pro-bono legal services and worked with many for-profit and non-profit organizations to increase the number of services available to underserved communities. 

Memberships: Sonoma County Bar Association;Sonoma County Oral Health Task Force, the Santa Rosa Community Health Center’s Dental Advisory Board, and the Steering Committee of Sonoma’s Healthy Kids, Leadership Santa Rosa (LSR) Class of 26 (2010). Professor Rydell is the recipient of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley/San Francisco Women’s Achievement Award 2013, the North Bay Business Journal’s Business Woman of the Year Award 2012, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) Keta Taylor Colby Award 2001.  Former board member of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco and of Village HopeCore International, a Healdsburg-based non-profit providing micro-financing in Kenya, where she helped connect and support both new and mature business ventures.

History at Empire College: Professor Rydell has taught Business Organization since the Fall of 2013.

Edwin C. Shiver
J.D., B.S.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from University of California, Berkeley; Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis

Professional Experience: Professor Shiver was a carrier fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy. Later, as a CAPT JAGC in the Naval Reserve he served as Reserve Staff Judge Advocate for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. After receiving his JD, he served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and thereafter in private practice as a business litigator. He currently serves as a securities law arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Memberships: For years, Professor Shiver was an ex officio member of the California Committee of Bar Examiners, charged with the composition and administration of the California Bar Examination.

History at Empire College: Professor Shiver has conducted a one-semester seminar on "Analysis and Insights for the California Bar Examination" since 2010.

Tina Wallis
J.D., B.S.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from Vermont Law School, Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Davis

Professional Experience: Professor Wallis is in the land use department of Clement, Fitzpatrick & Kenworthy. Prior to joining the firm, she advised counties, cities, and special districts on land use, public works, general government, airport, and landfill matters. She has advised clients on many aspects of land use law including general plan updates, zoning code updates, compliance with California's Environmental Quality Act, land use entitlements for residential and commercial projects, and conservation easements. Professor Wallis does both transactional work and litigation and has represented clients before regulatory agencies as well as advising regulatory agencies.

Memberships: Sonoma County Bar Association's Board of Directors, former small claims court judge for Sonoma County Superior Court

History at Empire College: Professor Wallis has taught Environmental Law and Legal Research and Writing at Empire College since 2008.

W. Barton Weitzenberg
J.D., B.A.
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Education: Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles; Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara

Professional Experience: Professor Weitzenberg is a partner in the Santa Rosa law firm of Abbey, Weitzenberg, Warren & Emery. His practice emphasizes civil litigation with a specialty in personal injury and construction defect law. Professor Weitzenberg is active throughout the state with various consumer organizations that are dedicated to preserving a citizen's constitutional right to trial by jury.

Memberships: American Board of Trial Advocates, American Inns of Court (President of Richard Sangster Chapter, 2001), Redwood Empire Trial Lawyers Association (President, 1978-1979), Sonoma County Trial Lawyers Association (President, 1993), Consumer Attorneys of Sonoma County (President, 1997), Consumer Attorneys of California, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Executive Council of Homeowners (ECHO), California Association of Community Managers (CACM), The State Bar of California, The Sonoma County Bar Association

History at Empire College: Professor Weitzenberg has taught Trial Practice at Empire College since 1988. He has also served as professor of trial tactics at the Stanford University Law School and the University of San Francisco Trial Practice Programs.