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Pictured from L to R are Professor James M. Cooper, director of Proyecto ACCESO, Chilean Minister of Justice Patricia Pérez Goldberg, and California Western Dean Niels B. Schaumann.
Chilean Justice Minister Encourages California Western Graduates to Give Back to Community
Law school honors more than 220 graduates at commencement ceremony

SAN DIEGO, April 29, 2013 - Chile’s Minister of Justice Patricia Pérez Goldberg addressed 226 California Western School of Law graduates receiving their Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees at a ceremony on April 26 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.

During her address, Pérez explained how California Western’s Proyecto ACCESO program, led by Professor James M. Cooper, played an integral role over the last decade in helping to improve her country’s legal education system, and guide its transition from an inquisitorial legal system to an adversarial system similar to the United States’ justice system.

“We’re talking about changing more than one hundred years of criminal procedure over just a few years,” said Pérez.

By sharing some of the most valuable lessons she has learned during her legal career, Minister Pérez also hoped to inspire the law school graduates to use their valuable legal skills to help others.

“I have seen both as a lawyer and as a minister of justice the change for the better that comes with a sense of public duty and a commitment to pro bono work,” said Pérez.

Student speaker Gregory J. Gianoni recognized the family members who have supported California Western’s graduates during their law school journeys, and reflected on the positive impact the Class of 2013 has made in the San Diego Community.

“We’ve volunteered our time and energy to help the San Diego community with both legal and non-legal issues. In taking on these great responsibilities, we’ve shown that California Western students possess the requisite qualities to be outstanding attorneys,” said Gianoni.

Gianoni listed a few of the successes—the releases of California Innocence Project clients Daniel “Danny” Larsen and Brian Banks, and the expansion of California Western’s Community Law Project—the Class of 2013 has helped to bring about during law school.

Chilean Minister of Justice Patricia Pérez Goldberg
Appointed in December 2012, The Honorable Patricia Pérez Goldberg is one of only four women to serve as Chile’s Minister of Justice. She is currently leading efforts to create a new Civil Procedure Code in Chile, and has worked to improve the country’s juvenile offender system, employ a gender-focused approach in prison, and has strongly supported the modification of Chile’s criminal procedure rules. She has also worked with Proyecto ACCESO at California Western School of Law on the development of drug treatment courts in Chile. 

Minister Pérez earned her law degree from the University of Valparaíso in 1999 and holds masters degrees in Criminal Law and Criminal Sciences from the Catholic University of Valparaíso. She holds multiple post-graduate diplomas including those in Criminal Procedure Reform from the University of Chile in 2001, Current Trends and Fundamentals of Criminal Law from the Catholic University of the North in 2002, and Human Rights and Democratization from the Human Rights Center at the University of Chile in 2005, where she earned highest honors. 

Proyecto ACCESO
Proyecto ACCESO provides training for Latin American lawyers, judges, law students, government officials, and community leaders in the skills of oral advocacy, problems solving, and other forms of conflict resolution. Many Latin American countries must transition from their traditional inquisitorial system to an adversarial system of criminal procedure. California Western is honored to help these Latin American countries make a historical change to their legal systems.