Message from the Dean

September 16, 2019

Message from the Dean

“If you’re going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

For over forty years, Empire College School of Law graduates have successfully taken up positions as community leaders, business executives, attorneys and judges, here in Sonoma County and beyond. The school is one of what the California State Bar Association calls “opportunity schools” – law schools created to diversify the practice of law and to provide a legal education to those for whom it was previously unobtainable. Our students are of all ages and come from diverse social, economic, employment, educational, and ethnic backgrounds; many have gone on to serve under-represented segments of our community.

Empire’s law curriculum provides a comprehensive program for aspiring lawyers and others who may benefit from a legal education. Our faculty is comprised of practicing and retired local attorneys and judges, and we teach each of our students not just to “think like a lawyer,” but to act like one. Courses include traditional case studies as well as participatory clinics in which students provide legal services to the public under the direct supervision of the faculty. In short, our students’ legal careers, not just their law school careers, start the first day of class.

Having commuted to law school myself while working and being married with two children (three by the end), I have a great deal of respect for what it takes for our students to obtain a legal degree on a night-time basis. And having spent over 34 years in the legal community of Sonoma County as a litigator and mediator, there is much I have to share toward making their careers a reality.  Empire has a long and strong tradition of graduating skilled, ethical advocates and community leaders, and as Dean, I am honored to be part of that continuing success.

Brian J. Purtill, Dean


Diane Aqui, Esq.

(Class of 2001)
Empire College gave me the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctorate while still working full time in my “first” career as an engineer. The professors are all practicing attorneys and judges and it is clear that they love what they do---guiding, teaching and mentoring a new group of potential lawyers, who one day will be their peers and practice alongside them in the legal community. I think one of my favorite cases since I graduated in 2001 was against a former Empire professor and I walked away with a win!

Andrew Conway, Esq.

(Class of 2014)
I decided to go to law school after interning for the Diversion program for the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office while I was in college. Empire provided me with friends who became colleagues, and Professors who became the Judges I appear in front of today. I have always wanted to work with the law and youth and I now manage a Dependency contract for Mendocino County, which has become my dream career as I get to do the exact job I wanted when I decided to go to law school. I definitely have my dream job thanks to Empire and their exceptional professors.

James V. Sansone, Esq.

(Class of 2006)
I picked Empire College because I had to juggle between family obligations and a fulltime job. Empire was the only option that allowed me to effectively manage my work and family obligations and still pursue a law degree. Thanks to Empire, I was able to pass the bar exam on my first try and begin a new, exciting, and lucrative legal career that I love.