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


Angela Emerick, Esq.

(Class of 2015)

"Being born in Australia and becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009, I understand the process and honor of becoming an American citizen and am proud to help those in their quest to become citizens and better their lives."

Daryl Reese, Esq.

(Class of 2014)

"I decided to enroll in Law School when I was 50 years old having enjoyed a full career in the nonprofit sector. Now I have a robust business and nonprofit law practice serving clients throughout the State of California and I am loving it. I could never have made that kind of career transition if it had not been for Empire Law School. The opportunity to take evening courses and at a cost far less than other law schools, and to do so in my own community made my career shift affordable, enjoyable, and attainable."

Orchid Vaghti, Esq.

(Class of 2010)

"There are not that many new lawyers who have the experience to go to trial. They would not be ready for it. Seeing the practical points of the legal process through her Empire education gave Orchid an advantage."
- L. Stephen Turer, Esq.