Election Candidates


Shounak Dharap

Lawyers are often portrayed as narcissistic and self-serving, but the truth is that none of you are becoming lawyers just for yourselves. Take a moment to think about who benefits from you becoming a lawyer. It may be the disenfranchised, veterans, refugees, indigent defendants, or victims of violent crime. No matter what area of law you choose to go into, the truth is that someone is relying on you.

At USF Law, we rely on each other. We support each other through all the trials and tribulations of the first-year and beyond; we manage to be competitive yet not cutthroat; and we maintain an atmosphere of camaraderie that extends not only to others in our year, but to the rest of the student body and administration. This close-knit culture has several practical results, including increasing the reputation of the law school within the legal community; developing a close alumni network for advice and job placement; and developing personal and professional relationships between students that will last for decades to come. However, the most important aspect of our camaraderie, loyalty, and pride, is that they enable us to stand - individually and together - as a powerful example, to future lawyers, of how zealous advocacy can coexist with unbounded cooperation.

If elected SBA President, my goal will be to further foster this culture of camaraderie. One of the opponents to this goal is the culture of stress that has been created in law schools around the nations; in order to combat this, I will be revamping the mentorship program to focus on leading - by example - to emphasize stronger work-life balance as the key to academic and personal success. Furthermore, I will work to bring the USF law community closer together with regards to the events and services offered by the administration, student groups, and other on-campus organizations. To accomplish this goal, I plan on overhauling the way students get their event notifications by streamlining the process into one platform and displaying daily events throughout the day on the student lounge television. I will also work closely with Moot Court, Law Review, and the other journals to expose the student body to the opportunities offered by these well-renowned and highly respected organizations. I will also work with Law Plus to ensure that every student has the support he or she needs to succeed, and ensure that an open dialog exists between the student body and the administration to further facilitate our needs.

When we become lawyers, everybody will benefit. Our families, our employers, and even society as a whole will be irrevocably changed because of our decision to join the legal field. But we don't have to wait until we pass the bar to make a difference. Every single student at USF Law, through his or her actions and words, has made a positive impact on my life that will forever shape the way I view the world; I only ask to be given the chance to do the same for you.

Jerrad Mills

With great enthusiasm, I am pleased to announce my candidacy for the position of 2015-2016 SBA President. My previous experiences in education reform working as a Teach For America Corp Member in inner-city Miami schools has provided me with the necessary skills to take USF Law to the next level. As SBA President, the first issue I would like to address is instructional quality.

During this academic year USF Law has lost many of our most valued professors to retirement. While this is an inevitable situation, I believe that students need to have more input about professors hired to teach at the law school. Therefore, I would create a student only committee to interview and evaluate each candidate for a professorship, and I would submit this committee's recommendations to the Dean's Office to be considered in all hiring decisions. Additionally, as a former educator I believe that continuing professional development for all professors must be part of any plan to improve instructional quality. Therefore, I would recommend that all professors be given the opportunity to observe other professors, attend workshops, and even attend bar prep classes, so what they are teaching in the classroom directly translates to what we will all eventually see on the bar exam. 

Next, while instructional quality is key to obtaining an excellent education, that education needs to be put to use after graduation. I feel that USF Law students already work hard enough in the classroom, and that it needs to be easier for us all to connect with employers in person. Thus, I would create a jobs committee lead by students that would work closely with OCP. This committee would be tasked with bringing employers from various sectors to the law school throughout the year for mini- career fairs. This would allow students to meet face to face with potential employers and help get students' feet in the door. Additionally, I would task this committee to conduct some research about perspective employers' views about USF Law. This will allow us to change the negative perceptions and build upon the positive ones to ensure that USF Law grads walk into interviews in the most positive light.

Also, I want to make the cost of a legal education more affordable for students, and while I know this will be a difficult task, I want to start another student committee that works with the administration to solicit donations and grants from alums, corporations, and the government. The funds raised by this committee would then be redistributed to students through scholarships, which will help ease the cost of a legal education.

Last, I want to unite the student body and provide more opportunities for the entire USF Law community to come together. I picture an environment that is more collaborative, more inviting, and more fun for everyone. My administration will make clear that our education is only as valuable as the USF Law brand that we ALL work together to create.

Vice-President (Full-time)

Caitlin Conway 

My name is Caitlin Conway, and I am running for SBA Vice-President of the Full Time division. I love USF, I am proud to be a student here, and I want to serve the incredible community we have here at USF Law. My strong leadership experience makes me qualified to serve as Vice-President.
I have previously worked in both assistant manager and team lead positions in which I was responsible for everything from daily operations and sales, training new associates, increasing my team's efficiency, and acting as a liaison between the support team, the sales team, and executive management. This experience also taught me to think quickly and objectively, to thrive under pressure, and to be a problem solver. Additionally, my background in theatre and fashion helps me to think creatively and out of the box, and it has made me a team player. My main goals for next year are to continue to build our community and to foster pride in USF. I want to get the incoming 1L class involved in campus life early on, and I want to build communication and relationships between the classes. I want to work with the administration both to make sure that the school's programs fit the needs of the students, and that resources that are available are being used. The sense of community we have here at USF sets us apart from other law schools. It is one of the reasons that I chose to attend USF. As Vice-President of SBA I will do my best to make sure both that USF is meeting the needs of the students, and that our community is avidly representing the school.

Sugam Soni

I've had the unique pleasure of being able to return for my 4th year here at USF Law School, and the past 3 years have allowed me to experience almost every aspect of this University. From being a student, moot court competitor, and event planner, to working with the faculty and administration to identify and address the constantly growing and advancing needs of our law school and community- the last 3 years have allowed me to learn about our community in an intimate and diverse manner, and I can confidently say that this University has become my life.

And just like everything else in my life, I am going to do everything I can to create the best experiences possible- for all of us.

This past year, I had the pleasure of serving as the SBA New Student Development Coordinator. The New Student Development Program focuses on assisting first year student with the transition into law school. I had the pleasure of meeting so many of our new first year students, and working closely with them during orientation and on through out the school year. Our team matched every single request from a first year student with a mentor, and worked with both mentors and mentees to develop relationships that will last throughout your time here.

Additionally, I had the pleasure of being the Section 2 Property Tutor, which allows me to work closely with the first year students by helping them build their outlines, prepare for midterms, and work through those crazy future interest word problems!

Finally, this past year I also had the chance to serve as Vice-President of the USF South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA), as well as the Interim President of the Sports & Entertainment Law Association (SELA). These positions have given me the ability to coordinate some of our most popular events on campus including the Annual Giants Tailgate, Sloshball in the Park, and our most exciting event so far this year- Courtside with the Golden State Warriors!

My goal for this next year is to take all of the experiences I have had and the skills and relationships I've built to continue to advance the needs and desires of our students when it comes to the future of our law school. This includes making our collective and individual voices heard to the administration when it comes to decisions regarding our community, curriculum, programs and clinics, career opportunities, and much more. And don't worry; I will make sure that we continue our tradition of bringing the most exciting social and networking events to the USF Law community!

My promise is this- whatever your concern or idea, you WILL be heard, and this SBA WILL do whatever we can to address those concerns and develop those ideas. It is my personal goal to make this SBA work for you- and I hope you will give me the opportunity to do so by voting for me for Vice-President. Thank you.

Itir Yakar

Itir Yakar is the Section 1 1L Representative, a former legal affairs journalist, and ESL teacher. She has extensive organizing experience and has worked on various social justice issues through campus and community groups.
Since she started her service to the USF Law community as 1L Rep last fall, she has organized a Race and Gender panel during Black History Month, a 1L faculty-student happy hour each semester, a visit to the Oakland Museum Friday night cultural event, and helped bring various other engaging speakers to campus and helped start a weekly yoga class at the law school. Yakar has also been advocating for her peers with campus administrators to have access to additional academic resources, past practice exams and hypos, and academic counseling. She initiated a 1L forum each semester to give her peers an opportunity to voice concerns and to update them on the SBA's current efforts. Itir is committed to contributing to the USF Law community from her background and experience. If elected, she would use her professional and leadership skills to advocate for the interests of her classmates and expand on the existing academic resources, networking opportunities, and social events.

Here are some of Itir's ideas for the Vice President position:

-continue to advocate for more access to old exams, hypos
-exploring alternatives to the curve
-more specialty courses based on students' interests (reproductive justice, disability, Native American law, animal justice, etc.)

Building Community
-expand the successful peer mentorship program to include shadowing of upper-class students
-host another Bay Area law school at USF Law every two months to get to know our peers whom we will be working with in the legal profession
-increase volunteerism through a big brother, big sister type mentorship program to support San Francisco, Oakland, and Alameda youth
-one SBA Forum each semester to give students an opportunity to voice concerns and for the SBA to keep them updated on its current work

Increased Faculty Access &Diversity
-two faculty events per year (happy hour, potlucks, brown bag lunch, faculty research discussions, etc.)
-advocating for more diversity in faculty recruiting to reflect our student body.

Vice-President (Part-time)

Caitlin Wiley

Hello USF Law Students!

My name is Caitlin Wiley and I am running for SBA Part-Time Vice President. I am currently the 1L Representative for Section 3, the part-time section, and these are the reasons why I am running for part-time Vice President.

The most important thing that I have learned for myself as 1L Representative and that I have heard from my classmates is the part-time program is highly underrepresented. Most of my classmates work full-time, have families to care for, or both, and because of their dedication, I've similarly invested my time to make sure they've had the same access to any of the regular, full-time law school events. I've consistently and constantly informed them of the law school's opportunities even though they have other non-law school obligations. If elected as Vice President, I will redouble my efforts on behalf of my fellow part-time students, making sure that their voices continued to be heard, and I will extend the same commitment to full-time students as well. Though there are others, this is the primary reason why I am running for Vice President.

Secondly, though no less importantly, I want to continue to build and foster our law school community. As most people can attest, I am a very social and gregarious person, and I want to use these skills to develop a close-knit student community. As we all know, law students are all too often immersed in their studies, sometimes passing on using the existing social opportunities and networks available to us. I'm going to change this by arguing for more combined events between part-time and full-time students. And this is incredibly important, because the employer diversity in the part-time program is far wider than most may think.

As you can see, I believe that I am qualified for this position based on my previous experience, my interpersonal skills, and my plans for us. I would be honored to have your vote for Vice President, but more than anything, I would be terribly honored and sincerely appreciative to serve as your part-time Vice President.

Thank you for taking the time to read my candidate statement and good luck to all of the candidates.

Caitlin B. Wiley


Sharon Darel

It is with much excitement that I am running for SBA Treasurer. My passion for managing finances and previous experience managing 300 employees in a $60 million annual-revenue Target store provide me with the skills necessary to succeed in this position.
 As SBA Treasurer, I would like to utilize our student fees in a more efficient manner so that student organizations can plan more events. I would do this by establishing a more transparent and fair process when distributing student funds. This can be easily achieved by publicly posting all funding decisions so that students may view them.

Additionally, I would like to provide student organizations with more guidance for funding so organizations can better financially plan their events. I would work with the budget committee to draft a simplified outline of funding policies so groups do not have to decipher through 30 pages of funding policies before planning their event. This better understanding of funding policies will lead to student groups being able to better comply with funding guidelines to ensure that they maximize the funding that we can provide them.

Finally, I am excited to work with the SBA board, students, and faculty to generate an enriched student experience.

Rahul Devnani

For those of you who do not know me (yet), my name is Rahul Devnani and I am currently the 1L representative for section 2. This year, I will be running for SBA Treasurer.

So far, my law school experience has been exciting, engaging and eventful because of my role in the SBA. While working with the SBA and student body, I have come to appreciate the mechanics of student government, and value how a seamlessly integrated system can positively affect each student. For example, as the 1L representative, I organized the first ever 1L forum - a town hall-style meeting for 1Ls to voice ideas and concerns and improve their experience. The forum has succeeded in further integrating the 1Ls with the rest of the student body.

The SBA Treasurer plays a quiet but very important role to ensure that each student group is given the opportunity to hold as many events as possible each semester. In order to be successful, the SBA Treasurer must produce accurate spending forecasts and budgets, and guarantee efficient reimbursements. As the Treasurer, I will handle the complexities of budgeting and accounting and maximize funding for each student organization. Overall, the role of the Treasurer is essential to keep all the moving parts well oiled and moving in the right direction.

My platform guarantees that the policies and procedures will streamline the complexities of budgeting and increase efficiency. My platform will:
• Ensure transparency of funding between each student group and organization
• Revamp budget request procedures to reduce confusion between on the spot and supplemental budget forms
• Efficiently allocate the budget to maximize value and usage of the entire SBA budget
• Go cashless for sales and fundraising efforts

My undergraduate degree in engineering and business experience has established skills in developing financial models and budgets for various activities. I have spent most of my professional career building financial models, project budgets, and keeping up-to-date spending records for projects. For example, I developed a five million dollar financial model and budget ensuring that enough money was allocated for seamless and effective operations over two years. Even the most successful entities and organizations will fail without enough money, proper allocation of funds, and proficient budgeting practices. And I believe that with my level of experience, the SBA can successfully meet the needs of the student body and each student organization.

Voting for an individual with strong accounting and budgeting skills will guarantee a successful Treasurer. Additionally, my effective communication skills will further add to my ability to be a strong and effective leader within SBA. I am really looking forward to the opportunity to expand my role within the USF Law community and continue to make a positive impact.


Ann Soghomonian

As SBA Secretary, my goal is to continue the excellent leadership and service brought by former board members.
As the Faculty Engagement Committee Chair, I have been able to work with the current Secretary and better understand his contribution to the board. The position is one to be respected, and I hope to carry on that outlook - especially for the rest of the executive board.

 3L Class Representative (Full-time)

Jeffrey Krasnoff

I simply want to be in a position in which I can help make our last and most important year of Law School a productive and fun experience.
 I promise to lend a hand wherever it is needed and to support the executive SBA board in their tireless (and often thankless) task of providing enrichment activities. I also promise not to shave my mustache, as it is the source of my powers.

2L Representative (Part-time)

Sydney Ferris

My name is Sydney Ferris and I am running for the 2L part-time representative for the 2015-2016 school year. I am a strong candidate for this position because I have extensive experience in leadership positions advocating for the needs of others.
 In my professional career as a social worker I have experience working in legal settlement meetings, advocating for the unmet needs of underserved populations, developing new programs, volunteering for a Congressman, and advocating as a representative of my union. My experience as a social worker provides me with tools to recognize unmet needs and advocate for necessary change. I have developed positive repertoire with classmates and faculty and can create an open dialogue about changes they would like to see.

As a second year part-time student I can relate to the unique challenges that part time students face while juggling work, school, and family commitments. It is important for the needs of part time students to be recognized and heard by the student body and faculty. Now that I have completed one semester of law school I feel equipped to balance work and school and have the opportunity to participate in the student government.

My term as a student at USF School of Law is just beginning. In the short time I have been on campus I have been able to observe changes that need to be made in the best interests of the students. I am especially interested in advocating for retention of high quality professors who are not asked to leave to be replaced by marginal visiting professors. Our law school education is a large investment that we have all chosen to make and we deserve access to excellent resources, services and education while at USF. Please consider voting for me as your 2L part-time representative for next school year.

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