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USC Gould co-hosts Q&A with Rob Bonta, CA Attorney General, on ‘Industry and Identity’
USC Gould School of Law

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The conversation was moderated by USC General Counsel and Gould Lecturer Beong-Soo Kim

By Leslie Ridgeway
Q&A with Rob Bonta, California Attorney General
USC Gould co-hosts conversation featuring California Attorney General Rob Bonta (on screen) and USC General Beong-Soo Kim.
The value of public service, the power of coalitions, and vigilance against racial discrimination and violence were among the topics of discussion at “Industry and Identity: A Conversation with California Attorney General Rob Bonta” presented by the USC Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association in celebration of Pilipino American History Month. The Oct. 24 event was co-hosted by the USC Gould School of Law.
The Q&A included an audience question about career advice for law students, aimed at both Bonta and moderator Beong-Soo Kim, USC senior vice president and general counsel, who also lectures at the Gould School.
“When I was in law school there was a set of tracks that were wonderful opportunities: clerkships, work at private firms, teaching tracks,” Bonta said. “For a lot of students [those were] the right fit. For others, they felt pressure – those were the big ‘gets.’ Everyone comes to law school for a reason. It’s your life, your career. Go directly to what you want to do as soon as you know it.”
Kim recommended students use the entire law school experience as a learning opportunity.
“You’re there not just to learn from books,” he said. “You’re there to learn about your classmates and their experiences. It’s so important to engage with people around you.”
As the first Filipino-American elected to the California legislature, Bonta said he was “both excited and disappointed” at the milestone and was encouraged that more Filipino-Americans were showing interest in public service.
“We certainly have a lot of city council members, mayors, special district members and school board members,” he said. “These things take time. Right now, we are in a period of change and transformation where more Filipino-Americans are pursuing their dreams to serve in public office.”
Bonta talked about his behind-the-scenes education in coalition building, given his family’s involvement with the United Farm Workers union in central California.
“I’m proud of the through-line, legacy and history of Filipino-Americans in the farmworker movement,” he said. “It’s something to uplift and share. As a legislator, one of my first acts was to have the contributions of Filipino-Americans taught in public schools.”
Kim asked Bonta about the rise in hate crimes against Asians and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic and what is being done to address the issue. Bonta noted the development of a racial justice bureau in May 2021 as part of the effort to develop infrastructure and support for hate crime victims.
“I’m working with community groups to expand [the bureau] with increased funding [for] culturally competent support, language access and trauma care,” he said. “For me, this is personal. To the Asian American community, I see you, I value you, I am you.”

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