33rd Annual Alumni Awards Gala

33rd Annual Alumni Awards Gala

President & Dean Darby Dickerson and the Alumni Association Board of Directors cordially invite you to the 33rd Annual Alumni Awards Gala.

Southwestern’s Alumni Gala is our premier annual event to bring together legal professionals in Southern California and honor the best among us. Join us for a reception, dinner, networking, and camaraderie as we celebrate our legacy as Southwestern alumni!

Thursday, June 20, 2024
Skirball Cultural Center


Net proceeds from the Gala will support the Southwestern Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund.

  1. Honorees


    Southwestern annually recognizes outstanding alumni and friends at its annual gala.

     Alumnus of the Year — Arash Homampour 92

    Arash Homampour

    Arash Homampour ’92 is widely regarded as one of the best trial lawyers of our time. He exclusively represents individuals in cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths, consistently achieving victories in cases others deem impossible to win. As the founder of The Homampour Law Firm, he has established its reputation as one of California's premier trial firms, focusing on outlier results by taking a limited number of cases at a time.

    A child of immigrants and a self-made professional who financed his own undergraduate (U.S.C.) and law school (Southwestern) educations, he worked full-time virtually for a solo practitioner while attending law school. Starting his law firm with no mentor, money, or cases, Mr. Homampour's story is one of the American dream with unwavering commitment and hard work, going from handling minor traffic cases to becoming a titan in the field of catastrophic injury/death litigation. Today, his firm has obtained more than $1 billion for clients.

    Arash Homampour consistently ranks among the top 10 attorneys on SuperLawyer's Southern California list. He is acclaimed as a Legal Visionary by the L.A. Times, a Daily Journal Top 100 Lawyer, and recognized for securing one of the 10 Most Impressive Plaintiff Verdicts of 2022 by the Courtroom View Network. Law360° identifies him as one of the 10 Titans of the Plaintiff's Bar, and he has received CAALA’s Ted Horn Memorial Award, presented to the lawyer who has provided outstanding service to the Association and the legal community. Moreover, he has been honored as the Trial Attorney of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, and the Venture County Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Homampour contributes regularly to The Los Angeles Daily Journal, Law 360, Forbes, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

    Mr. Homampour is dedicated to making society a better place, not only through his work but also by giving back to the public through his nonprofit, There Is A Light, which gives financial assistance and grants to individuals to help get them to the next level in their lives. He routinely speaks to and mentors lawyers and law students on how to be the best lawyer by being the best human with the core belief that if you have success or abundance in any area, you must share it with others.

    Lifetime Achievement Award — Robert C. Brandt 76

    Robert C. Brandt

    Robert C. Brandt ’76 is a Certified Family Law Specialist and heads FMBK’s Family Law Department. Applying more than 40 years of experience as a family law attorney, Mr. Brandt focuses on getting to know his client’s individual needs, concerns, and sensitive situations. Throughout the difficult separation process, Mr. Brandt remains respectful of his clients’ wishes, never suggesting a plan that is against their best interests.

    Mr. Brandt has earned great respect from both clients and peers, as reflected by his inclusion on the Southern California Super Lawyers Top Ten list for eight consecutive years and being named a Southern California Super Lawyer every year since 2005. Mr. Brandt was also selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers® 2010-2022, while also holding an AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell. He received the 2018 National Professionalism Award from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He also received the LACBA Spencer Brandeis Award (2022), which is the highest honor bestowed by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section.

    He served as a member of the Law School’s Alumni Association Board and helped create the Inns of Court at Southwestern. He mentors students and hires associates from Southwestern.

    Outstanding Judicial Officer — The Honorable Susan Bryant-Deason 78

    The Hon. Susan Bryant-Deason ’78

    The Honorable Susan Bryant-Deason ’78 was elected to the bench in 1994 after serving as a deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. During her time as a prosecutor, she also served as a special assistant U.S. Attorney. During her judicial tenure, Judge Bryant-Deason has presided over hundreds of landmark cases, many of which resulted in appellate decisions upholding her trial court decision. She has created and chaired the Externship Program of the Los Angeles Superior Court for more than 25 years, providing opportunities to thousands of law students, many of whom came from Southwestern. Judge Bryant-Deason is a 1978 SCALE graduate.


    Outstanding Friend — Debbie Leathers

    Debbie Leathers

    Debbie Leathers has devoted more than four decades of service to Southwestern, starting as an Assistant to the Dean before transitioning to the Development Office in 1983, where she focused primarily on alumni relations. She was promoted to Director of Development in 1987, and in this role, successfully managed both fundraising efforts and alumni relations. Her efforts have significantly contributed to the increase in financial support received by the law school and the active engagement of alumni. Ms. Leathers coordinated the capital campaign that secured funding for the renowned Bullocks Wilshire building. She also spearheaded the highly successful New Era Campaign, which raised more than $16,000,000 for Southwestern. Her dedication to the law school's mission and core values are evident, as she has actively fostered these values through her work in fundraising and alumni relations. Ms. Leathers also implemented various programs aimed at building strong relationships among alumni, students, faculty, and community members.

    Before joining Southwestern, Ms. Leathers gained valuable experience working at the Centralia School District in Orange County, where she held several positions across different capacities.

  2. Scholarship


    Application for 2024 scholarship awards is currently ongoing. The list of recipients will be listed here before the gala.

    Here are a few past recipient testimonials:

    Bryan Alvarez headshot

    "This award can allow me to take on even more ways to better advocate for the students at this school while also taking on other opportunities to volunteer more in community and legal nonprofit organizations."  

    ~ Bryon Alvarez, candidate for graduation, May 2024


    Angelica Gonzalez '23

    "As a first-generation law student, all I wish is to continue to mentor and be a resource for students. I would not be who I am without the people who have done it before me but especially those who gave me some of their time."

    ~ Angelica Gonzalez '23


    Laura Iriabho-Okugbe

    "Diversity in the legal profession is important to me because when I walk into a workplace, I like to see a reflection of society as a whole. Law is the tool of justice, and I believe it is our duty to amplify as many voices and perspectives as possible to better represent our clients and communities."

    ~ Laura Iriabho-Okugbe, candidate for graduation, May 2024

    Jonathan Gutierrez

    "I believe that the younger generation is our future. I can best give back to the community by helping the younger generations explore their possible legal career endeavors."

    ~ Jonathan Gutierrez, candidate for graduation, May 2024


    Ashley Kim

    "I am currently serving as the President [of the First Generation Law Students Association] and helping guide our programming to serve our mission statement, which is to provide a student-led community that fosters an environment that is accessible, transparent, vulnerable, and supports the development for first gen students."

    ~ Ashley Kim, candidate for graduation, May 2024

    Nadia Salcedo

    "This award can support me in my endeavors to provide support to communities in need without feeling like I am sacrificing the stability of my home. [...] I want to be able to provide for my parents, who have worked tirelessly to support my sister and me in our endeavors, especially because I will be the first lawyer in the family."

    ~ Nadia Salcedo, candidate for graduation, May 2024

    Julissa Salgueiro

    "I will make a difference in this world as the tool that will tighten the bolts for the greater good of society and be someone's voice that otherwise would be unheard."

    ~ Julissa Salgueiro '23