“There’s no difference between a Harvard lawyer and a California Western lawyer in the real world,” says Deborah S. Dixon ’07, the incoming president of the California Western Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Dixon’s pride and enthusiasm for her law school and her colleagues are contagious.
“Our alumni have made a big difference in the legal world—a big difference in San Diego and a big difference in the nation—and they graduated from California Western.”
It’s an exciting time for Dixon as she assumes the alumni presidency and starts a new position as a Senior Trial Attorney with Gomez Trial Attorneys – a plaintiff’s litigation firm.
“You might say I’m litigating on the other side of the ‘v’ (the v in versus),” according to Dixon. “It’s intriguing to switch sides. I was mostly defending lawsuits before and now I’ll be handling class actions and mass torts for plaintiffs on a national level.”
Dixon also feels that working on the other side of the “v” gives her valuable insight for the firm’s clients.
“It gives me a unique perspective,” she says. “As I go through complaints, I’ve been looking at them from the defense mindset. What would I do to attack this case if I were on the other side?”
One reason Dixon feels strongly about California Western graduates measuring up to the finest attorneys in the profession is her own experience at the law school.
“I wanted a law school that was focused on practical experience,” Dixon says. “It was important to me to find a school that focused on training really good lawyers.”
Dixon gives California Western “a solid A” in preparing law students to be profession-ready.
“The trial team made my experience at California Western,” Dixon says, especially under the tutelage of Distinguished Practitioner Mario Conte, the faculty advisor to the Moot Court Honors Board.
“It was like I was really representing a client in a courtroom and I got that hands-on experience of being a litigator,” says Dixon. “You went into a real courtroom and put on your opening statement and your witnesses. You felt like a real lawyer.”
Dixon continues to coach trial teams as an adjunct professor—as another way of giving back to California Western.
Since beginning her career with Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie, Dixon has made a name for herself in San Diego legal circles.
In 2014, Dixon was named by San Diego Metro Magazine as one of its “40 Under 40”—the best and brightest in the city. Also in 2014, she was named one of “The Best in the Bar” by the San Diego Business Journal and a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers. Dixon was named a 2012 finalist by the San Diego Daily Transcript in its “Young Attorneys” awards and one of 2013’s “Women of Influence” by the same publication.
Dixon has great respect for her predecessor as alumni board president, Eden Yaege.
“Eden served the alumni association with such dedication and passion,” Dixon says. “I was so lucky to have served as her vice president. We know we can rely on her to help us as immediate past president and we won’t let her get too far away!”
As for her own goals as president of the alumni board, Dixon wants to work at engaging student participation in the alumni association and the services it offers early in their law school experience, especially mentorship by alumni.
“I’d also like to continue the outreach we have been doing and support the efforts of Alumni Affairs Director Lori Boyle to make us a national community.”
Most of all, she wants to share her own feeling of pride in California Western with all of the law school’s graduates.
“I want to leave my presidency with everyone feeling as encouraged and optimistic about California Western as I do,” Dixon says. “We already have that—and I would just like to leave knowing that in some way I was able to help other alumni have that same optimism.”