Campus’s chief lawyer killed in accident

The campus mourns the tragic loss of chief campus counsel Christopher M. Patti, who was involved in a fatal accident while bicycling in Sonoma County. Patti was 59.

Patti, who brought a deep working knowledge of the University of California and UC Berkeley to his role, represented the campus in many high-profile matters, successfully spearheading litigation that has protected the interests of the campus. He worked extensively with federal, state and local government agencies, the legislature, community organizations and the media.

Chris Patti

Chris Patti (Impact Fund photo by Alain McLaughlin )

Chancellor Carol Christ remembered Patti as the model of professionalism and collegiality who represented the best of Berkeley.

“I speak for the Berkeley community in saying how grief-stricken we are at Chris Patti’s untimely death. He was an extraordinary colleague. He loved the university and he had a deep core of integrity that motivated everything he did. He was smart, he was compassionate. He was everything you wanted the counsel of the campus to be,” Christ said. “We offer our sympathy to his family and his friends for this tragic loss.”

Before taking the legal reins at Berkeley, Patti worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the University of California Office of the President from 1990-2010. In that role, he specialized in litigation involving academic and student affairs, constitutional issues, class actions and other matters.

Colleagues said Patti’s profound understanding of the legal challenges confronting contemporary higher education made him especially suited for the job, foreshadowing his many important contributions to the campus and the UC system.

“Chris was a wonderful colleague and friend who cared about people and doing the right thing. He was an extraordinary lawyer to whom we all turned for advice and counsel. His loss is unfathomable,” said Charles F. Robinson, general counsel and vice president of legal affairs with the University of California.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Patti obtained his J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School, where he was a member of the prestigious Order of the Coif and articles editor of the Virginia Law Review. He clerked for the Honorable Frank M. Johnson Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to joining the Office of the General Counsel, he was a litigation associate at Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe in San Francisco.

Information will be provided for those who wish to honor Chris’s life as details become available

Patti is survived by his wife and two sons.