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By Noah Barron
Daily Journal Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – A. Barry Cappello, managing partner of Santa Barbara’s Cappello & Noel, and his wife, Lori Cappello, donated $1.25 million to UCLA School of Law.
UCLA will use the endowment from Cappello, who graduated from UCLA in 1962 and UCLA Law in 1965, to provide scholarships to deserving students as well as to fund the A. Barry Cappello Trial Advocacy Clinic, a yearlong course that trains law students in pretrial and trial litigation.
UCLA will rename its moot courtroom the A. Barry Cappello Courtroom in gratitude for the gift, which was announced Dec. 18.
“We are grateful that an attorney of Barry’s enormous success as a trial litigator has seen fit to help train and prepare the next generation of trial lawyers,” said Michael H. Schill, dean of UCLA School of Law. “We are extremely proud of Barry, and the fact that he is a UCLA Law alumnus makes his contribution that much more meaningful.”
About his donation, Cappello said, “UCLA gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do since I was 12 years old, and I hope my gift cements that in perpetuity for others.”
Cappello, who is 64, was just 20 when he started law school.
“I had never met anybody as smart as myself – until UCLA,” he said. “The quality of the institution and the people taught me I had to work harder and smarter to be successful in this business.”
In 2006, Cappello delivered the keynote speech at UCLA’s eighth annual Irving H. Green Memorial Lecture.
Before founding his practice, Cappello served for seven years as city attorney of Santa Barbara, litigating for the city against major petroleum companies in the wake of the 1969 Santa Barbara Channel oil spill. The case settled for $9.45 million.
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Over Thanksgiving, I had a really strange conversation with my cousin. My friend Ted was in town–he’s a physics Ph.D at Notre Dame–and we got to talking with my cousin Mark about life, goals, the future, etc. Mark was fixed on the fact that Ted and I are smart guys who don’t make hardly any money. Mark kept asking us basically how we could better commodify what we do and sell it for a profit. It became clear that he had no understanding of why anybody would want to go to school–for the pure interest and curiosity of it. I said basically that I’d certainly rather be poor than bored, and so far in life, the jobs I’ve held have had an inverse relationship with bucks and interest value.
The whole thing got me thinking: as young intellectuals, we live in a sort of post-scarcity economic environment. I look around my peer group and I see basically two types of people who graduated from top universities: those who do what they want to do because they want to do it, and those who do what makes the most money. This is sort of perplexing, because for so many of us, there’s this deep distrust of wanting to own more items. Like, we’re all lucky enough to make enough money to live no matter what we do, so what are you going to buy? I’m terrified of spending my time doing something boring in return for more money. I was explaining to Mark the notion of open-source software development and he was totally perplexed. “Why would someone invent something and just give it away?” The key is that there is a currency more valuable than money to people who live in an ideas-based community. Like Cory Doctorow’s “whuffie,” intellectual props from people whose pedigree I respect is basically all I strive for. Past that, I just need enough money to eat.
Part of the problem with money is that it’s everyone’s currency–whether you like them or not. Using money as a yardstick of success is like comparing your golf score to the whole planet’s golf scores–whether they play golf or not. The idea of Ted trying to make a buck on physics is like anathema to everything he believes in, because the only critics of his work he would respect would be other lifetime academic researchers, who themselves have eschewed high-paying jobs in return for a lifetime of research.
Post-scarcity economics–the economic rules that might govern a future society that has all the material stuff it would ever need–is already at play for the Internet generation. I was reading about this lawsuit where Annie Leibowitz sued Paramount over an advertisement for Naked Gun 33 1/3 which had Leslie Neilsen done up like naked pregnant Demi Moore. I’m like “Why on Earth would you do that–being parodied by Leslie Nielsen is like the highest compliment you could ever receive…” The answer, obviously is money. But to a lot of us, that’s a really poor substitute for props. If I were a musician, I would love being downloaded by a million kids–illegally–or remixed by Diplo or whoever. Why I am I even writing this–I’m not getting paid. I’m hoping you, reader out there in the etherweb, will like it, and maybe give me some props or leave me a comment. So please, steal this, remix it, rewrite it, make it your own. I, for one, welcome our new post-scarcity overlords.
Yes, I should be working on my law paper. But instead, I’ve decided to vent the old spleen about something that’s been brewing for quite a while: why I loathe Los Angeles.
I bet you’re thinking “shallow, vapid people and traffic,” right? Wrong. I don’t even mind those things. I’ve lived around phonies–and let’s face it, been one–my entire life. I’ve lived in Santa Barbara, Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz. I went to Stanford, for goodness sakes. Authenticity isn’t really high on my priorities list–somewhere between good hand-eye coordination and perfect pitch.
No, what I hate about LA is that you’re never there. Quite simply, there is no such thing as Los Angeles. When the whole darn thing is “downtown” there is no downtown. It’s a mirage, an idea–the center cannot hold. LA makes you feel freaked out, displaced and hollow because that’s how the geography itself is. Read the rest of this entry »