Elizabeth (Betsy) de la Vega
Director, Pro Bono and Externship Program
Betsy de la Vega provides training and support to students who are involved in pro bono projects, assists in the cultivation of new pro bono partnerships and develops programs to promote a culture of service both in the law school and in the larger legal community. She also oversees the externship program, which enables second and third year students to receive academic credit for work in nonprofit or government organizations and is a Lecturer in Law, teaching the Externship Companion Course.
A veteran prosecutor with extensive federal court trial experience, de la Vega began her legal career as judicial clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. Renner in St. Paul, Minnesota. Following her clerkship, she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis, serving there and in San Jose for a total of over twenty years. During her tenure, she prosecuted the full spectrum of federal criminal cases: white collar crime, tax and money laundering violations, RICO, continuing criminal enterprise, and the first federal prosecution of commercial airline pilots for “flying under the influence,” among others. She also briefed and argued cases before the Eighth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. The recipient of community and Department of Justice awards for her work - including a Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney – de la Vega was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She has lectured on various aspects of substantive criminal law, investigation and trial practice in Continuing Legal Education programs, and taught law school courses in white collar crime and legal writing, as well as trial and appellate advocacy. A widely-published author, de la Vega speaks frequently to civic organizations and student groups, and appears in regional and national media as a legal expert on issues of criminal justice and public integrity.