50 years: a look back at how far we’ve come

In celebration of The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law 50th anniversary, President Matt Nehmer reflects on the school’s history and looks toward its future.

The founders of The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law

Most people miss it.

Hanging in the Colleges of Law’s administration office in Ventura is a black-and-white photo of eight men—seven standing and one seated. Their sideburns, Brylcreemed hair, and black-rimmed glasses communicate a Nixon-era scene. The seated fellow is a Mr. D. Conahey, the first individual to enroll at what would become The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law. Surrounding him are the school’s founders. They share a like demographic. The photo is dated July 9, 1969.

The men look to the camera, to what was then an unknown future. Follow their eye line to the room’s port-side wall and you will see a color photo of the Ventura Class of 2018. The image could not be more different from the 1969 gathering—seven women and seven men all a varied range of ages, ethnicities, and experiences. They include working mothers and fathers, those realizing lifelong ambitions, and others answering a new call.

Thirty miles up the 101 highway hangs a like photo, this one in the foyer of the Santa Barbara campus. Here the pictured graduates stand steps away from the gilded chambers of the old county courthouse. They look to the recent past with the accomplishment of finally earning their law degree and to the future with confidence.

To walk both campuses of the Colleges of Law is to see photos of graduates through the years. Among them are today’s leaders of the local legal community: judges, commissioners, elected officials, founders of thriving private practices, and partners in distinguished local firms. They also include mothers, fathers, and grandparents; those who show up for work every day and contribute without seeking fanfare. Together, the people in these photos represent the mission of the Colleges of Law; the positive change they realize—to themselves, their family, and their community—is why the school exists.

And so it has been for nearly half a century.

The Colleges of Law has its 50th anniversary this year, and you are cordially invited to join us in the celebration of our contributions to the community and the accomplishments of our students, graduates, faculty, and staff through the years. A golden anniversary gala is in the works; likewise, other public-facing events, an oral history project, and special guest bloggers to our website.

We’ve come a long way since the photo of Mr. Conahey & Co. and we have a long way to go to keep our mission thriving for the next 50 years and beyond.

To all who shared this journey with us over the years—whether as alumni, students, faculty, trustees, or staff—we salute you. Your experience was just a warm-up lap for what comes next.

If you are interested in learning more about The Santa  Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law, fill out the form below to request more information.