Q&A with Scott James on CBL Scholars Program

Scott James, Co-Chair of the CBL Advisory Board and General Counsel of DCVC

Q: What is the mission and vision behind the CBL Scholars Program?

A: This year has forced all of us to confront a number of painful realities, including how little progress American society has made in providing greater economic opportunity to people who grow up in disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities, to people who are part of historically underrepresented groups. We recognized that UC Hastings’ CBL is an impactful platform to help address this critical issue and devised the CBL Scholars Program as an important first step in our broader plan to provide greater access to the business world. Our mission is to attract and empower more diverse law students to enter into and develop successful careers in the business law community. The CBL Scholars Program is marshalling all the resources in the Hastings network (and beyond) to ensure that students are properly equipped to access and capitalize on the unique opportunities available to them as Hastings students. While our focus with the CBL Scholars Program is to first connect students to the technology ecosystem, our ambitions go well beyond this initial scope. Ultimately, we will scale the program to serve more students and build pipelines for them to pursue a number of interests within business law.

Q: Why do you think this program is important for the San Francisco Bay Area business and legal communities? 

A: The San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the most vibrant business and legal communities on the planet. However, too many of our legal institutions remain racially homogeneous. In conversations with local leaders in the legal industry, we learned of a number of impactful efforts underway to meaningfully increase diversity while at the same time encountering a common refrain that the current pace and trajectory of these efforts is simply not good enough. Our innovation economy is defined by its ambition to deliver transformational progress to society, yet this promise cannot truly be realized without a more inclusive and diverse legal workforce. Increasing diversity is not only the right thing to do, it has also been empirically shown over and over again to deliver better qualitative and quantitative outcomes. One of DCVC’s portfolio company CEOs, Sara Menker of Gro Intelligence, was recently featured in Inc. magazine with a quote that perfectly sums up this reality, “Collaboration between people of different backgrounds accomplishes things that can otherwise seem impossible.” With the CBL Scholars Program, our goal is to be a partner to our local institutions on this journey by connecting the immense diverse talent at Hastings to the tremendous legal opportunities available in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Q: How is the CBL Scholars Program designed to accomplish its goals?

A: The CBL Scholars Program is defined by the people and institutions that have answered the call to roll up their sleeves and dedicate significant resources to realizing the promise of our ambitious agenda. We are not satisfied with solely providing financial aid and potential professional opportunities to students from historically underrepresented groups. We have recruited an initial group of remarkable lawyers, from senior partners at prominent law firms to General Counsels of some of the most well-known companies and investment funds in the Bay Area, to work hands-on with our scholars at every step of their law school journey and beyond. We will be providing curriculum support, practical training, mentorship, and personal and professional connections that will open up networks that are crucial to success in business law. We are just getting started, so please reach out to me if our mission resonates and you’d like to be part of the CBL Scholars Program!