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Donald Philip Dorfman
Current Position:
Criminal Defense Specialist in Private Practice, Sacramento, California
Law School Activities:
Class Agent, 2005 Distinguished Service Award Winner, Board of Visitors Member and Donor

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Donor Spotlight

Everyone Is Entitled to the Best Defense They Can Get
Donald Philip Dorfman, JD’57

The work ethic Don Dorfman applied to college in the 1950s—he worked odd jobs to pay for his undergraduate and law school degrees—has been a continuous thread that remains part of his current life as a criminal defense attorney in California. The Indiana Law alumnus volunteers for the Law School in numerous capacities, even helping current students find jobs through his contacts in Sacramento and returning to the School to help with special events.

In his community, Dorfman is involved with the County Bar Association, Board of Jewish Family Services, Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Capital Public Radio, and is ombudsman for the California State Committee of the Employer’s Support of the Guard. “My time at Indiana University was the happiest time in my life,” he says. “I have found that success is really based on you—but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the Law School.”

Why criminal law?: “The most important thing to the client is that whatever he has done, he is in a dilemma and he’s in over his head. The defense counsel is the one person who stands between him and what can happen to him. You’re doing a good deed. Everyone is entitled to best defense they can get.”

The doctor is in: “A criminal lawyer is sort of like a doctor, but my surgery is done in the court room and recuperation is done in the jail.”

Beyond the call of duty: “Recently I went to juvenile hall to meet with a 16-year-old accused of murder. He’s a poor kid, so we went out and got clothes for him to wear in court.”

Indiana Law in my life: “For 10 years, I was president of the alumni club here in town. I’m thrilled that I’m on the Board of Visitors of the Law School. I get to rub shoulders with some of the most brilliant lawyers in the country.”

Why give back?: “When I went to law school, there was no such thing as a scholarship. I am able now, financially, to give back. I was really very poor, and my scholarship is intended to go to someone like me. If somebody is required to work to put themselves through school—and they don’t have to be the brightest scholars—I want to be able to help them.”

Keeping work at work: “You have to be able to turn it off when you go home. Like a television set.