California AG Rob Bonta Urges Law Students to Turn Passion into Action 

UC Law SF Chief Diversity Officer Mario E. Lopez ’15 spoke with California Attorney Genera Rob Bonta during a Feb. 7 event in the lower-level auditorium of UC Law SF’s new 198 McAllister St. building.

Speaking to a packed auditorium at UC Law SF, California Attorney General Rob Bonta told law students that he is inspired by their generation’s refusal to accept the unacceptable. 

“The impatience that you have for change and the intolerance that you have for injustice, keep that,” he said. “You can turn your passion into action and into change.” 

California AG Rob Bonta told law students not to lose their passion for making the world a safer, more just, and more sustainable place to live.

Bonta, the state’s first Filipino American attorney general (AG), and second Asian American AG, was speaking at a Feb. 7 event as part of the law school’s “Diversity in Legal Thought & Practice Speaker Series.” 

In a fireside chat with UC Law SF Chief Diversity Officer Mario Ernesto Lopez ’15, Bonta affirmed his support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in schools, workplaces, and government agencies, despite recent opposition to such efforts by political leaders in states such as Texas and Florida.  

“I believe representation is absolutely critical and that we’re at our best when people with different perspectives and lived experiences come together and put their proposals and contributions and solutions on the table,” he said. 

As the state’s top lawyer and prosecutor, Bonta oversees a workforce of approximately 6,000 employees, including about 1,200 attorneys, in the California Department of Justice. He called it the “biggest law firm in the state” and ticked off a long list of issues his office is working to address, including the housing crisis, gun violence, consumer protection, civil rights, reproductive freedom, and police accountability. 

“We have a lot of reach, a lot of throw, a lot of capacity, and a lot of power to help people,” he said. 

Bonta shared how his own parents’ involvement in social justice work drove him to pursue a career in public service. He recalled how his father worked with civil rights and voting rights organizers in the Deep South in the 1960s; how his mother dragged him to protests calling for the restoration of democracy in the Philippines; and how both worked to support the rights of farmworkers in California’s Central Valley. 

“My parents showed me that change is possible,” he said. 

Bonta previously worked as a deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco. He started his political career as an Alameda City Councilman in 2010 and was later elected in 2012 to the California State Assembly, where he represented parts of the East Bay, including the cities of Oakland and Alameda. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed him as the state’s 34th attorney general in 2021. He later won an election to stay in that position in 2022. 

California AG Rob Bonta spoke with and posed for photos with law students after speaking at UC Law SF campus on Feb. 7.

Before posing for photos with a long line of eager law students, Bonta offered some career advice to aspiring attorneys. 

“I would encourage you to do something that you love if you can,” he said. “Be curious. Take risks … My career was full of twists and turns. Nothing is forever. You can try something and find it’s not the right thing and try something else. Find what you love, and ultimately, do what you love.” 

Lopez, the law school’s chief diversity officer, said he looks forward to bringing more diverse legal professionals to campus to offer valuable advice and unique perspectives to law students. 

“We were thrilled to have Attorney General Bonta speaking to our community about the important work of his office and his career in public service,” Lopez said. “We will continue working to bring diverse voices from the legal field to campus through this ongoing speaker series.”