Each year Irvine University features a series of prominent leaders currently working in the field of law through the Distinguished Speakers Events held annually. Irvine University often invites these well-known individuals to speak in conjunction with commencement ceremonies and information sessions. The Distinguished Speakers events are free and open to the public. The goal of the Distinguished Speakers Events is to encourage community members, alumni, faculty, staff, and students to connect with well-know legal practitioners currently working in the field of law. Irvine University is pleased to host these events and be able to provide students and faculty networking opportunities to engage with these prominent leaders. Please see below for a list of past speakers.

Past Distinguished Speakers


Diane Edith Watson Former United States Congresswoman Diane Watson

Ms.Watson is a former US Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district. Ms.Watson served from 2003 until 2011. Ms.Watson holds degrees from the following Universities: University of California, Los Angeles, California State University, Los Angeles and Claremont Graduate University. Ms.Watson’s career has been enriched many different aspects. Throughout her career she has been a psychologist, professor, health occupation specialist before serving as a member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. Ms.Watson began a career in education. She became a teacher in 1956. Ms.Watson shared a passion for education and she was inspired to improve the school systems and help students by reinforcing educational standards. Ms.Watson was the first African-American woman to serve in the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Ms. Watson was recognized as a statewide and national activist for abundant issues, which included health care, children and women. Ms. Watson commenced the legislation to fortify food health safety fundamentals for restaurants. Ms.Watson served in the California State Senate for 20 years, and was selected by former President Clinton as United States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia until 2001. Ms Watson stated, “…her success is due to her education, goal-oriented nature, and the support she has received from her family”…….

Carmen TrutanichFormer Los Angeles City Attorney

Carmen Trutanich was the 7th Los Angeles City Attorney. Carmen attended USC for both his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Business Administration. After receiving his MBA, Carmen went to work at Starkist. While working at StarKist, he found time to teach at Los Angeles Harbor and Marymount Community Colleges where he taught Business Management, Business Law, Real Estate Law, and Supervision Management. He possesses a Life Credential to teach college in California. Carmen Trutanich spent his early career at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, where he was instrumental in gang prosecution and the successful formation of the Environmental Crimes Division. California Lawyer magazine chose him as one of the top ten in the field of environmental law, while California Super Lawyers named Mr. Trutanich one of the top attorneys in Southern California, four consecutive years in a row. Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are named by Super Lawyers. Carmen Trutanich has earned the broad range of experience needed to reestablish faith in the city, trust in the community, and integrity to the office of Los Angeles City Attorney.

Mark TaklaAssistant Attorney, United States Attorney’s office

Mark Takla is an Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. He currently prosecutes domestic and international terrorism cases in the National Security Section. He received his B.A. in Criminology, Law, and Society from the University of California, Irvine in 1998 and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. While in law school, he served as Managing Editor of the UCLA Law Review. After law school, he clerked for the Honorary Harry L. Hupp and the Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall, both of the United States District Course for the Central District of California. In 2002, he reported for active duty in the United States Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. After graduating from Naval Justice School, Newport, Rhode Island, he served as a Trial Counsel and Assistant Chief Trial Counsel at the busiest prosecution shop in the Navy in Norfolk, Virginia. While in Norfolk, he tried nearly every type of case, including murder, rape, child sexual abuse, and embezzlement. In 2005, he deployed to Afghanistan with SEAL Team TEN in support of Operating ENDURING FREEDOM. He provided legal advice to the unit whose mission was to find and capture Al Qaida and Taliban leaders. In July 2008, he left active duty and joined the United States Attorney’s Office in Santa Ana, California. He remains a Navy reservist. From 2008 through 2011, he was the Staff Judge Advocate for Naval Special Warfare Group ELEVEN and SEAL Teams SEVENTEEN and EIGHTEEN. He is currently assigned to Naval Reserve Region Legal Service Office SOUTHWEST.

Elaine StregerSuperior Court Judge of Orange County

Judge Elaine Streger was appointed by Governor Wilson and sworn in by Chief Justice Ronald George on February 28, 2997. Prior to her appointment, she served 15 years in the Orange County Superior Court Legal Research Department, the last 9 as Supervising Attorney. She was also an Adjunct Professor at Western State University School of Law and was in private practice from 1979 – 82. She is a past president (1990) of the OCWLA (Orange County Womens Lawyers Association) and was chosen Outstanding Lawyer of the Year in 1995 by OCWLA. Judge Streger received her B.S. degree cum laude (with a major in chemistry) from Brooklyn College. Prior to starting law school in 1975, she had worked as a research biochemist in the pharmaceutical industry, as a junior high school science teacher and as a Tupperware Lady. She received her JD summa cum laude from Irvine University School of Law and has been an active participant in the community, serving as a Reserve Deputy in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department from 1983 – 87, and frequently lecturing on legal topics, [particularly civil law and motion]. Judge Streger is currently assigned to Central Court in Santa Ana where as an “open” court she hears both criminal and civil cases. One of her 3 children is a staff attorney in the Legal Research Department of Orange County Superior Court.

Carol ChenCouncilmember of Cerritos City Council

Councilmember Carol Chen was elected to the Cerritos City Council in June 2008, re-elected in March 2009, and served as mayor of Cerritos from 2011–2012. She is a member of the Business and Industry, Library and Performing Arts Committees. Councilmember Chen is the alternate to the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and the first alternate to Sanitation Districts 2, 3, 18 & 19/Waste Management. She is the Council’s delegate to the Workforce Investment Board – Policy Board. A proud Cerritos resident for more than 20 years, Councilmember Chen has actively served on a variety of Cerritos commissions, committees and professional organizations. Councilmember Chen is a member of the Cerritos Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Cerritos Optimist Club. Prior to being elected to the City Council, Councilmember Chen served on the Cerritos Planning Commission for seven years, including two terms as Chair and Vice Chair. She also served as the Vice Chair of the Cerritos Property Preservation Commission for two years, and was a member of the Community Safety Committee for four years. Councilmember Chen’s community involvement includes her service from 1992 to 2002 to CAUSE (Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment), a non-profit community-based organization that educates Asian Americans about civic participation and political processes. She served as a Director and Founding Member of the organization. Together with her husband, Tony Chen, she has owned and operated a Cerritos-based real estate investment and property management company since 1988. Councilmember Chen has held a California Real Estate License since 1980 and is a Certified International Property Specialist.