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Friday, December 07, 2012

UC Hastings Announces Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law

UC Hastings College of the Law Chancellor and Dean Frank H. Wu has announced the creation of the Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law. Professor Heather Field has been named its first recipient.

Gregory '68 was the longest serving Legislative Counsel in California history. For 25 years, he led an office that provided legal opinions to the California Senate and Assembly. He was a partner in private practice at Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott in Sacramento at the time of his death in 2004, at age 64, and endowed the chair in his estate plan.

Gregory came from a line of attorneys, each named Bion Gregory. His grandfather graduated from UC Hastings in 1893.

"Bion knew he wanted his estate to go to UC Hastings," says his wife, Patty, who lives in Sacramento and met Bion while working as his secretary in the Legislative Counsel's office. "Bion would never retire. The law was his life, his love," his wife says.

Gregory attended UC Hastings with his longtime friend and fellow Navy veteran Jim Corn '69.

"Bion was readily and widely respected as a lawyer's lawyer," said Corn. "He was bright; frighteningly so." He also had remarkable political acumen. "As Legislative Counsel, you have 120 bosses, not just one. To stay in that position for that length of time was really remarkable." His wife said Gregory had a keen awareness of what it took to succeed in the statehouse. "He kept the confidentiality of his clients. He never stepped out of that role. He really adhered to it, and respected it."

It was an understatement, Corn said, to call Gregory a perfectionist. "I think he really enjoyed the challenge of the law. He had the firm belief that the law was the grease that prevented society from slipping into violence."

Gregory was known for working long days and evenings. In 2001, the year he retired from public service, he oversaw the drafting of more than 8,600 bills, 11,000 sets of amendments, 600 opinions and a staff of 75 lawyers. And, Corn recalls, he was a good friend to UC Hastings. "Every year the head of UC Hastings would come up for their annual ceremony before the Legislature, to try to get funding. Bion was very instrumental in assisting UC Hastings in that regard, because he knew the players, and he could make their reception a great deal more comfortable."

Gregory served as Deputy Legislative Counsel for two years, from 1968-1970. In 1971 he became Chief Consultant to the state Senate Judiciary Committee. He was appointed as Legislative Counsel in 1976. His 25-year tenure made him the longest serving Legislative Counsel in state history.

He is fondly remembered by his former colleagues, including Professor Michael Salerno, who worked with Gregory for most of his tenure as Legislative Counsel.

"Bion was a great mentor and friend," Salerno said. "He was a consummate lawyer with outstanding political skill enabling him to become Legislative Counsel when he was in his mid-30s and remain in that position until he chose to retire. Working with him was a constant process of learning."

A true "local boy," Gregory was born in Sacramento, and remained devoted to the city. He had his 21st birthday celebration at Firehouse #3, in Old Town, where Patty and he married, and where she chose to hold his wake following his death. He served as a delegate to the American Bar Association, and in 2003, president of the Sacramento County Bar Association. Gregory also served as a commissioner on the California Commission on Uniform State Laws and the Uniform Law Commission (also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws). As a member of the California Commission on Uniform State Laws, he served as Chair from August 1990 through July 1991.

During his almost 30-year tenure with the Uniform Law Commission, Mr. Gregory served in leadership positions and on study and drafting committees. He was President of the Commission from August 1995 through July 1997; Chair of the Executive Committee from August 1993 through July 1995; Chair of the Scope and Program Committee from August 1991 through July 1993; and, Chair of the Legislative Committee from August 1987 through July 1991. He volunteered his time to help draft a broad range of uniform laws, including acting as chair for a study committee on Internet privacy law. He was a member of several drafting committees, including the Uniform Commercial Code Committee, Committee on Agricultural and Agricultural Related Cooperatives Act, Committee on Uniform Criminal History Records Act, Committee on Uniform Information Practices Code, Committee on Premarital Agreements Act, and the Committee on Uniform Martial Property Act.

In 2004, months before his sudden death, Gregory participated in an oral history project. His interviews are available on the web and housed in the California State Archives as part of the State Government Oral History Program.

To contribute to the Bion Gregory Chair at UC Hastings, please contact Shino Nomiya at nomiyas@uchastings.edu.

Media Contact:

Alex A.G. Shapiro, UC Hastings College of the Law, shapiroa@uchastings.edu, (415) 581-8842

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