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Oracle EVP Dorian Daley speaking at law commencement

Oracle EVP Dorian Daley speaking at law commencement

Listen. Uphold Civility. And Don’t Fear the Big Uglies.

Oracle’s EVP and Santa Clara Law 1986 alumna Dorian Daley shared 33 years of legal wisdom with the 2019 graduating class.

To get the most out of one’s membership in the joyful “club” of practicing attorneys, one needs to listen and understand; resist the urge to be an “obstreperous and uncivil jerk;” and not be afraid of “the big uglies.”

That was the advice of Dorian Daley J.D. ’86, executive vice president and general counsel of Oracle, who spoke at the commencement ceremony of Santa Clara University School of Law Class of 2019, Saturday morning, May 18, in the University’s Mission Gardens.

Daley explained that the “big uglies” are the most complicated and difficult legal challenges lawyers face in their careers. “Diving into the big, ugly, complicated matters can be the most satisfying,” she told the assembled group of 212 graduating law students. “Maybe it’s the broad impact these matters tend to have. Maybe it’s the sense of pure accomplishment in working through all the issues and overcoming hurdles and surprises,” she mused. But whatever the rationale, taking such issues head-on requires courage, she noted.

“There is no small amount of courage that you will need to exhibit as a lawyer, whether you are pursuing claims against well financed interests..prosecuting violent criminals, defending a corporation on an unpopular issue, seeking to make change to the criminal justice system, (or) writing bold new legislation,” she said.

Daley began her career at Oracle in 1992 after spending five years with the commercial litigation group of Landels, Ripley & Diamond in San Francisco. A 1981 graduate of Stanford University, she previously served as Oracle vice president and associate general counsel; spent 10 years as corporate secretary; and nearly two years as chief compliance and ethics officer.

Her current areas of responsibility at Oracle include litigation; dispute resolution; investigations; the compliance and ethics program; commercial policy and practice reviews; as well as leading the many legal and compliance practice groups within Oracle.

In her speech, she noted that these days especially, it’s of utmost importance for lawyers to be exemplars of civility and integrity. Being a jerk is not only an impediment to effectiveness and damages one’s own brand, it harms the entire profession, she said. Being an attorney “is an honorable and worthy and noble profession, and it is our collective obligation to keep it so,” she said.

Daley received the 2011 Best General Counsel Award (Large Public Company) from the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal and San Francisco Business Times. She has been honored by numerous organizations in numerous years for her leadership, including Ethisphere Institute, Corporate Counsel Magazine, The Recorder legal newspaper; and the National Law Journal. Among the boards of governance on which she's served are those of the Commonwealth Club of California; BSA | The Software Alliance; ChIPs (Chiefs for Intellectual Property); and the Securities Regulation Institute.

A member of the Santa Clara University Law School Advisory Board, in 2013 she was the recipient of the Santa Clara Law Alumni Special Achievement Award, honoring lawyers who lead. In 2010 she received the Diversity Gala Award from Santa Clara University School of Law for being a role model for women and minorities in the legal field. She has also served on the Diversity Gala organizing committee, the High Tech Law Institute board and as a participant in each session of the In House Counsel Institute.

In 2016 she was honored with the National Association of Women Lawyers Challenge Award. This past February she was named as a “Legend of the Law” awarded by the prestigious Burton Awards (in association with the Library of Congress), a national honor given to general counsel whose careers in the law have been exemplary.

2019 Graduating Class

Of the more than 200 J.D. graduates, 73 received certificates in various areas of high-tech law; another 16 received certificates in public-interest and social-justice law; 11 specialized in international law and seven in privacy law. A dozen students received master’s degrees (LL.M.) in law or intellectual property law.

Prior to the ceremony numerous outstanding graduates received awards, including:

  • Brian Pettis won the Mabie Outstanding Graduate Award based on academic performance, scholarly activities, leadership and service roles at the law school and in the community.
  • Maria Palomares received the Dean’s Leadership Award for exemplifying the school’s motto of “lawyers who lead” and serving other students, the school, and community.
  • Ariel Keller received the John B. Bates, Jr. Dispute Resolution Award, established in 2017 and given in recognition of the student’s coursework, publications, performance, and service related to the field of dispute resolution.


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Photo by Adam Hays