By John Loomis
(An excerpt from his 2001 commencement address)
One day about thirty-two years ago I received a telephone call from Dan Eymann. Dan and I were good friends. We had worked together in the District Attorney's office a year or so before we each went our own way in the profession. After the usual pleasantries, Dan said, "I think you know that I have been giving a review program for several people who are about to take the State Bar Exam. They are terribly unprepared, and they have not received the training they should have been given. This community is sadly in need of a law school which will provide quality legal education for people here in the Valley." I guess I responded with a "So?" Dan came back with, "I am thinking of forming a new law school, and I am calling a meeting of a number of people whom I hope would be interested in such a project, and I would like you to be a part of it." My comment was, "Sorry Dan, I've got just about all on my plate that I can handle now." Dan went on to say, "I have John Gorfinkel, former Dean of Golden Gate Law School and now the State Bar consultant coming down to Fresno to talk to us, and I'd like you to come and at least listen." Aware as I was that his wife, Barbara, would undoubtedly have some delicious snacks for us, I relented and said "Well, why not, it might be interesting."
Several days later the invited group of about a dozen people met at Dan's home. Yes, we had some scrumptious snacks, and a stimulating discussion followed. I was impressed with both Dean Gorfinkel's comments, and with the outline of procedure Dan had worked out with him for the launching of a new school. I let Dan know that I was interested.
When, a few days later, I next heard from Dan, it was to tell me that from the group who had met, that Oliver Wanger, now Judge of the United States District Court, but then a fresh young lawyer, and I, were the only ones who were prepared to go ahead with the project. I gulped. Did I really want to do this?
This school, this child, was conceived from the gleam in the eyes of one person, Dan B. Eymann. Let us not forget.
Now that conception had taken place, it was time to cause the embryo to become a real being. We, the mid-wives went to work.
We met, and Dan started outlining the steps we needed to take to Ollie and me. Step one, we unanimously named Dan the school's first Dean. Dan's enthusiasm was overwhelming, and we all went to work.
There were many crucial, early decisions that had to be made. I'd like to share some of them with you. For starters, here were some the more pressing questions we faced: What do we do for money to get rolling? Where were we going to get instructors? Where will we hold classes? How do we get authority to open from the State Department of Education? What do we do for a library? What do we do for students?
First, initial capital: Dan said that he'd put Two hundred dollars in the 3 kitty, and if we need more, then we agreed that I'd put in second two hundred, and if that was not enough that Ollie would put in a third and final two hundred. We had no plan for what to do if the six hundred was not enough. As it turned out Dan's two hundred dollars was a sufficient capital contribution, and, in fact, constituted the entire initial capital of the School.
Finding instructors was easy. We quickly agreed that. Dan would teach Torts, I would teach Contracts and Ollie would teach Criminal Law and Procedure. We needed only one more instructor to take care of the first year. We agreed that if there was not enough revenue generated, that we would teach without compensation. Fortunately that event did not happen.
A place to hold our classes was a more challenging problem. We wanted a place which would have a college atmosphere. The idea to see if Pacific College, now Fresno Pacific University, might rent classroom and library space to us turned out to be most fortuitous. We met with Dr. Arthur Wiebe, then president of Pacific. Art listened to our plan. He then bought in enthusiastically, and became one of our staunchest allies and supporters. We made a lease for, I believe, five years, for the classroom and library space we needed. Art listened sympathetically to our need for a registrar, who had to be a person knowledgeable in maintaining school records. He introduced us to Pacific's registrar, Adina Schmidt, and allowed us to hire her on a part time basis to act as our registrar as well. He, in effect, became an unofficial member of the governing board which then consisted of the three of us, and when we expanded the board, he became one of our first new member. His expertise in the field of education and school administration and his support of our program were invaluable. Thank you again, Dr. Wiebe.
Then came a big hurdle. Before we opened the doors, we had to have a license from the State Department of Education, and to get that license we had to have, among other things, assets valued at not less than $50,000 which were dedicated to the school's program. It couldn't be a loan. Who was going to make a contribution of $50,000 to this untried venture? Some lawyerly analysis was much needed. It then occurred to us that we had a lease, a valuable asset, which we convinced the State Inheritance Tax Appraiser, who was assigned to value assets for the Department, that the lease we had negotiated with Pacific College was worth at least $50,000. Thank you Mr. Appraiser, for your astute judgment in concluding the lease with Pacific College had a fair market value of $50,000.
The establishment of a library was a more evolutional concern, and one which is still with the school. We got the word out to the local bar, and we soon had contributions of basic books from local lawyers, which we housed in a room in one of Pacific's dormitories. An early big boost came from two sources.
First, The Honorable Gilbert Jertberg, on his retirement from the United States Court of Appeals, donated his entire federal library, of several thousand volumes to the school. Second, the Fresno Regional Foundation donated $20,000, I believe it was, for the purchase of the National Reporter System, which we needed to meet State Bar accreditation standards. Judge Jertberg, in memoriam, and Fresno Regional Foundation, heartfelt thanks for this support.
Finally, among the basic questions we were faced with, where were the students going to come from? We knew that law schools throughout the state were bursting at the seams and many qualified persons were unable to pursue desired legal educations. A bit of advertising and over one hundred persons applied. We had our first year class of about one hundred students, and the baby was really squalling.
In the eighth year of the school, after the full four year program had been fully put in place, Dan became ill with leukemia, and shortly thereafter, died. He has left a legacy in the school he had conceived, which was now a healthy, robust child. But for the enthusiasm, foresight and dedication of Dean Dan B. Eymann, this school would never have come into being. He is the true founder. Others of us have been proud to have helped his dream to become a reality. I believe I speak for many who have been part of the San Joaquin family, that a fitting memorial by way of an endowed chair or something akin thereto to be created and funded by friends of the School in Dan's honor. He is the true founder of this school and we should honor and not let it be forgotten what it is he wrought.