Dennis Yokoyama, Japanese American Bar Association of Greater Los Angeles board member and past president, has been chosen to receive the Southwestern Student Bar Association’s 2017-18 Excellence in Teaching Award for First-Year Professor.
Robert Ford, president of SBA, explains, “The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes the year’s best first-year, upper-division, and adjunct professors at Southwestern. An all-inclusive award, the winners are representative of the appreciation and recognition of great instruction as voiced by Southwestern’s students and faculty. Southwestern’s Student Bar Association is proud and honored to award this year’s winners!”
The Excellence in Teaching Award for Adjunct Professor goes to Angela Davis, and the Excellence in Teaching Award for Upper-Division Professor goes to Alexandra D’Italia.
“I am deeply honored to have been chosen for this award,” Yokoyama said. “I am grateful to everybody at Southwestern for their support and especially to my students, current and former, from whom I have learned so much and who have inspired me to do my best.”
He has always been intrigued by why people behave the way they do. As a result, he earned a B.A. in psychology from UCLA and an M.S. in clinical psychology from Cal State Los Angeles, and served as a counselor and therapist before pursuing a career in law, a field that he finds “is flush with true tales of human struggle and accomplishment and that empowers its practitioners to help people in profound ways.”
As a law student at Loyola Law School, Yokoyama was a judicial extern for Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. He also served as an articles editor and staff writer for the Entertainment Law Journal. Following graduation, he joined the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker in Los Angeles, where he worked as an associate with the environmental and commercial litigation practice group.
Yokoyama joined Southwestern in 1992, and three years later was appointed as director of the Legal Research and Writing Program, a position he held for 12 years. Currently, in addition to teaching civil procedure, remedies, and California Bar-focused courses, he also serves as faculty advisor to the law school’s chapter of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association.
His goal is “to teach students the critical thinking and writing skills that will lead them to excel in law school and practice—valuable tools that they can use the rest of their lives.”
In 2000, Yokoyama was honored with Southwestern’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2007, he was named as the Paul E. Treusch Professor of Law.
He has served as president, vice president, treasurer, Executive Committee member and governor of JABA, one of the oldest ethnic minority bar associations in the country. Since it was founded over 30 years ago, JABA has served the legal community and the community at large and provided a vehicle and forum for the unified expression of opinions and positions upon current social, political, economic, legal or other matters or events of concern to JABA members.
Yokoyama is also a founding member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and served as assistant editor of The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute.