UC Law SF Mentors, Professors Continue to Shape Judge David Pereda’s ’05 Approach to Law

David Pereda ’05 is among more than 500 current UC Law San Francisco alumni who joined the judicial bench. The Alameda County Superior Court judge says mentors and professors from law school continue to guide his work.

For the last three years, David Pereda ’05 has presided over thousands of criminal cases as a Superior Court Judge in Alameda County – serving a crucial role in upholding the law in one of California’s most populated counties.

But before he picked up the gavel and black robe, he was a student at UC Law San Francisco, which counts more than 500 living alumni who went on to serve as judges in California and other jurisdictions. At UC Law SF, Pereda said he gained valuable knowledge, skills, and confidence that put him on a path to success.

“I felt very fortunate to learn from exceptional UC Law SF leaders and professors, who taught me how to present arguments effectively, practice law with empathy, and who made me feel like I belonged,” he said.

Pereda said he strives to ensure that everyone who walks into his courtroom feels heard, seen, and respected. Those are values he modeled after esteemed judges who mentored him, including retired U.S. District Judge Maria-Elena James.

“My ultimate law school highlight was externing for the Honorable Maria-Elena James,” he said. “She was empathetic, humble, and extremely skilled as a settlement judge, possessing an extraordinary ability to see people, cut to the issues that mattered most, and get parties to common ground.”

Pereda also expressed gratitude to those who guided him at UC Law SF, including Professor Catalina Lozano, who helped him gain confidence presenting oral arguments; Jan Jemison, former director of the Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), who made him feel like he belonged in law school; and Professor Keith Wingate, who taught him how to view the law through a lens of compassion, considering how it impacts people and communities.

“Throughout my career, I have benefited from mentorship—from professors, lawyers, judges, and other public servants,” Pereda said. “From all these interactions, I learned and am still learning how to practice and serve to the best of my ability.”

At UC Law SF, he was an active member of the Latinx Law Students Association, formerly known as La Raza, where he mentored first-year students and participated in an annual “Day at Law School” event, which invites diverse teenage students to come to campus and learn about the legal field.

“It was uplifting to see so many young folks come and see people in law school and the profession that looked like them,” he said. “They seemed engaged, inspired, and excited to be there.”

Pereda grew up in the East Bay and studied sociology at UC Berkeley before coming to UC Law SF. After law school, he spent eight years working on civil litigation matters for two law firms — Filice Brown Eassa McLeod and Nixon Peabody. He served as a deputy city attorney for the Oakland City Attorney’s Office from 2013 to 2016 and 2018 to 2020. In between, he spent two years working as an assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

After working in private litigation and public service roles for 15 years, he was tapped by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020 to join the Alameda County Superior Court bench. Pereda said he enjoys the challenge of unraveling complex legal issues while doing work that he finds fulfilling and intellectual stimulating.

“Every case has unique legal issues, and I enjoy researching and learning about all of them,” he said.

Pereda encourages those entering the legal field to consider a career in public service, where he said new attorneys can get more hands-on experience and work on a wide variety of legal issues while benefitting society.

“If you care about people, it is an ideal way to provide for the community and help others,” he said. “I take note every day of how lucky and grateful I am to serve in this role. It is a rewarding form of service and so interesting on a daily basis.”