Judge Wright II '80, trustee Dennis Codon '77 and Human Rights Fellowship Founder Carlos Siderman to receive honorary degrees

Los Angeles, CA – The Honorable Otis D. Wright, II '80, Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, will deliver the keynote address at Southwestern Law School’s 97th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 13, 2012 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. At the event, Judge Wright, as well as fellow Southwestern alumnus Dennis Codon '77 and Fellowship founder Carlos Siderman, will also receive honorary Doctor of Laws degrees.

Judge Wright continues Southwestern's legacy of distinguished public servants and is the fourth alumnus to serve on the United States District Court in recent years. A former Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, he began his legal career as a Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Appeals Section of the California Department of Justice. He went on to join the international law firm of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, where he became a partner and was a civil litigator for 22 years. During that time, he was also a volunteer attorney with the HIV/AIDS Legal Services Alliance, handling housing and employment discrimination cases as well as preparing wills for the terminally ill. In November 2005, Judge Wright was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court where he was assigned to the Substance Abuse Court. Two years later, he was named to the federal bench by President George W. Bush.

Judge Wright’s court is a popular externship placement for Southwestern students, and his judicial clerks are predominantly recent Southwestern graduates. He served on the Southwestern Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2011 and was honored as Outstanding Judicial Officer in 2010 by the Southwestern Alumni Association.

“We are honored to have such a prominent and inspiring alumnus and jurist speak at our commencement ceremony,” Southwestern Dean Bryant Garth said.

As the former general counsel for Unocal and a partner in major law firms, Dennis Codon '77 honed his expertise in complex business transactions and corporate governance. Currently Of Counsel at the law firm of Blank Rome, he served for many years as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of Unocal Corporation, where he managed the worldwide law department and corporate governance functions, directed the company’s legal affairs and spearheaded major expansion efforts for the company's law department in Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Singapore. Mr. Codon previously served as Corporate Secretary, responsible for corporate functions, including investor relations and corporate risk management for the entire company.  In 2004, he became a partner in the firm of Robins Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi before joining Blank Rome as a partner in the Public Companies and Capital Formation Group in 2010.

Mr. Codon has served as a faculty member at Stanford Law School Directors’ College and Stanford University’s General Counsel Institute and has been a keynote speaker at conferences sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Corporate Law Departments Section and Institute of Corporate Counsel, the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals, the National Association of Corporate Directors, and the Board of Trade of Thailand. The LACBA honored him as Outstanding Corporate Counsel in 2001. He has been a trustee of Southwestern since 1994, and served as Chair of the Board from 2004 to 2011.

Carlos Siderman is President and Chief Executive Officer of Property I.D., widely recognized as the founder of the real estate disclosure industry. Mr. Siderman has devoted his life to the highest standards as a Southern California real estate business leader and humanitarian.

Mr. Siderman joined his father, José Siderman, in the family’s real estate business and management of the family ranch in Tucuman, Argentina. During the 1970s and 80s, the Siderman family faced many egregious abuses and anti-Semitic acts, including kidnapping, torture, confiscation of all their property and eventually exile.  In a landmark human rights case heard and decided in federal court in Los Angeles in September 1996, the government of Argentina agreed to settle damage claims made by the Siderman family after a 14-year legal battle.  Today, nearly all cases in human rights abuse cite the historic Siderman decision as legal grounds to protect individuals from human rights abuse around the world. To honor his late father, Carlos Siderman partnered with the Fulbright Commission in Argentina to create and fund the Fulbright-José Siderman Human Rights Fellowship at Southwestern in 2008. The Fellowship brings Argentine lawyers to the United States to complete their LL.M. degree in Civil Liberties and Human Rights Advocacy at the law school. Fellowship graduates hold prominent human rights advocacy and academic positions in Argentina and the United Nations.