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Communications Alumnus Recognized for Contributions to Law Education

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Cal State Fullerton alumnus John Dolan is the 2024 recipient of the Laurence H. Tribe Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes a National Debate Tournament alumnus who has used their debate training to make significant contributions to their profession, society or humanity. He was nominated for the honor by Lucy Keele, professor emeritus of human communication studies.

Dolan graduated from CSUF in 1971. As a student, he participated on debate teams coached by Keele. With his debate colleague Patti Peoples, Dolan qualified for the National Debate Tournament in 1970 and in 1971, winning 3rd place nationally during his first year on the team. After CSUF, Dolan attended Western State University’s College of Law and passed the California Bar Exam in 1977. Since then, Dolan has tried over 300 jury trials, 69 murder cases and 12 death penalty cases with his private law practice, which has offices in Orange County and Palm Springs.

In the desert, Dolan and his wife, Irene Garcia Dolan, realized that the area was vastly underserved in terms of access to law education for aspiring lawyers. To help the situation, they started the California Desert Trial Academy College of Law, which began offering classes in fall 2012. Since then, 38 students have graduated from the college, 36 have taken the California General Bar Exam and 23 have passed the exam. Their 38 alumni include 24 women, of which 13 are Latina. The graduates practice law in the Coachella Valley and around Palm Springs. The CDTA College of Law is the only law school in Riverside County.

Communications' Communication Specialist