When two-year-old Jimmy Nguyen arrived in America with his immigrant parents and siblings from Saigon, the only things the family brought with them were the clothes on their backs and their dreams for a better life. Now, more than three decades later, James D. Nguyen is older, wiser and wealthier, ranking as one of the nation's most prominent attorneys and following in the footsteps of his father, who was a prominent judge in Vietnam. Called a "renaissance" legal professional, Mr. Nguyen has enjoyed a meteoric career since graduating from UCLA at age 19, while attending Mt. SAC concurrently, and from the USC Law Center as the youngest member of his class at age 22.
In 2008, Lawdragon named Nguyen, at age 36, among the "500 Leading Lawyers in America" and described him as "dynamo talent" who "is a one-stop shop for companies in entertainment, technology, advertising, sports and other industries seeking intellectual property, litigation and transactional advice." This year, the Daily Journal named him one of the "Top 20 Lawyers Under 40" in California. One commenter on Lawdragon described him as an "outstanding litigator who writes and orally argues exceptionally well." Mr. Nguyen honed those oratory skills at Mt. SAC, where he was a stellar member of the college's nationally ranked Forensics Team. He became a seven-time national gold medalist in collegiate speech competition and twice won the Bovero-Tabor Award (given to the top overall speaker at the Phi Rho Pi national speech and debate tournament). Nguyen has since become a renowned public speaker, recognized for his dynamic presentations.
Professionally, Mr. Nguyen is a partner in the Los Angeles Office of Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, a major corporate law firm where he represents a broad range of clients involved with entertainment, new media, intellectual property, technology, advertising and sports. He has served clients such as Major League Baseball Properties, LEGO Systems, CBS Films, Kia Motors America, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Journal Communications, BBC Worldwide Americas, and the BODOG worldwide online gaming and entertainment brand. Mr. Nguyen successfully represented the Miss California USA organization in its high-profile litigation against dethroned 2009 titleholder, Carrie Prejean, who claimed she was wrongfully terminated from her pageant title because of her religious views opposing same-sex marriage. Due to Nguyen's efforts, the case was resolved and dismissed.
A leader in law and a diversity advocate, Mr. Nguyen currently serves as Chair of the State Bar of California's IP Law section and co-chairs the California Minority Counsel Program. As a prominent member of the LGBT community, he serves on the Board of Equality California, the state's leading LGBT civil rights organization. This year, he was named by the Advocate magazine to its "40 Under 40" list of top LGBT persons in America.
Beyond his highly successful legal career, Mr. Nguyen is passionate about helping students to hone their oratory skills in the competitive arena. For the past 15 years, he has returned to Mt. SAC to help coach and prepare Forensics Team members for speech tournaments.
According to the faculty coaches, "Jimmy goes far beyond and above what would be expected, including even covering students' personal and wardrobe expenses. He's just that committed to our students and their success."
It is in this spirit of commitment to Mt. SAC's reputation for excellence and distinction that the college proudly bestows its 2010 Alumnus of the Year Award upon Mr. James D. Nguyen.