Christopher M. Patti dedicated his career to helping University of California and UC Berkeley administrators manage complex legal issues. A nationally recognized leader in higher education law, he was a member of UC’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for more than 27 years, and most recently served as Berkeley’s chief campus counsel.
Patti died tragically in a road cycling accident last August at the age of 59.
To honor his memory, OGC and Berkeley Law have established the Christopher M. Patti Legal Fellowship, which will go to a recent law school graduate interested in public service. Melissa Montenegro, a 2018 Berkeley Law alumna, is the first fellowship recipient. She will work full-time for one year both at OGC and at Berkeley’s Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).
“Melissa’s varied experience and her talents as a law student make her an ideal choice for the inaugural year of the fellowship,’’ Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and UC General Counsel and Vice President for Legal Affairs Charles F. Robinson said in a joint statement. “Melissa has demonstrated discipline, determination and a strong commitment to social justice — particularly in making justice more accessible to vulnerable populations and underrepresented minorities. We are thrilled that Melissa will be joining OGC and Berkeley OLA in September.”
Montenegro has worked as a law clerk at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office and at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood in Oakland. Previously, she was an AmeriCorps fellow at the Santa Clara County Superior Court Self-Help Center and interned for Judge Katherine Lucero of the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s Juvenile Division.
As a law student, Montenegro worked at the East Bay Community Law Center’s Youth Defender Clinic and was a staff editor for the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law. She was also active in the Women of Berkeley Law, First Generation Professionals and La Raza Law Students Association.