The Center for Business Law has launched a new scholarship program aimed at giving students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to flourish in the world of business law. The CBL Scholars Program provides full tuition plus mentorship and support from the alumni and law firms who brought the idea to life.
Scott James, Class of ’13, one of the program’s founders, said the inequities exposed by the pandemic and last summer’s renewed focus on social justice inspired him to reflect on his own good fortune and how he might make a difference in other people’s lives. The general counsel at venture capital firm DCVC realized that being co-chair of the Center for Business Law’s advisory board gave him a platform.
Conversations with mentors and peers — including his co-chair Steph Eberle, GC of Scale Venture Partners, and the center’s Executive Director Evan Epstein — quickly led to a fundraising effort. Local business law powerhouses Orrick and Gunderson Dettmer signed on as the founding sponsors, along with a number of individual leaders in the business law community.
“The response we received from alumni and the business law community was fantastic,” Epstein said. “They quickly recognized the value of this new CBL Scholars program.”
Center for Business Law Faculty Director Jared Ellias said the CBL Scholars Program fits well within the broader purpose of the center, which includes bringing together students, alumni, and members of the business community.
“There’s a real demand in the business community for a new generation of business leaders,” he said. “CBL is a young program at the oldest law school west of the Rockies. We expect to continue to create new programs within our framework and innovate.”
Jay Anderson and Mounika Yepuri, who are completing their first year at UC Hastings Law, were chosen as the first two CBL Scholars.
Anderson is a fourth generation San Franciscan who is interested in creating venture capital opportunities for underrepresented communities, paving the way for what he calls “social venture capitalists.” He believes people who have not had access to money are an untapped source of ideas for ways to transform society and solve big problems such as the housing crisis and immigration court backlogs.
“Tech is revolutionizing the world, but in what way?” asked Anderson, a 1L representative for both the Associated Students of UC Hastings and the Black Law Students Association. “Tech companies need to be creative and take big risks.”
Anderson, who graduated with honors from Case Western Reserve, is concurrently pursuing his JD from UC Hastings and an MBA from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
He became interested in the law as a plaintiff in the $27 billion Hunters Point Community class action lawsuit alleging toxic waste contamination in the neighborhood where he grew up. At age nine months, he had surgery to remove a tumor from his throat.
Yepuri is the daughter of immigrants who moved from Hyderabad, India, to Pittsburgh, Pa. She said the CBL Scholars program has already opened doors for her. She landed a role as a summer associate at Orrick.
“I don’t have to worry about this huge debt, and I can focus on having an impact,” she said.
Yepuri was drawn to Orrick’s strong tech practice and felt welcomed by everyone she spoke with. She was further impressed that Orrick was willing to connect her with members of the South Asian affinity group during the process.
Her interest in working with startups attracted her to UC Hastings. She studied political science at UC Berkeley before working as a corporate paralegal.
“These two individuals are really special students,” James said. “It’s going to be fun to work with them and it’s a privilege to have them as our first two CBL scholars.”