Philip I. Person ’08 (Communication Studies)

2015 Rising Star Award Recipient 

Philip Person

The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate the success and impact of Sacramento State through its alumni. Philip I. Person was chosen for his outstanding professional achievements.

As a freshman at Sac State, Philip I. Person ’08 (Communication Studies) envisioned racking up honors as a sprinter for the Hornet track and field team.

Ten years later, he’s garnering awards, but in an entirely different arena.

The attorney’s latest accolade is the Rising Star Award from the Sac State Alumni Association.

“This award’s obviously the best,” says Person, who earned the National Bar Association’s “Trailblazers under 40” distinction in 2014. “It means a lot because Sac State is where I grew as a person and got my start.”

Person handles commercial litigation at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in their San Francisco office. In just a few short years as a professional, he’s caught the attention of the industry. Among other honors, he was named to the Lawyers of Color Hotlist last year.

Prior to that, Person beat out hundreds of applicants from across the country for a clerkship with Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The prestigious clerkship enhanced an already impressive resume. 

Person earned his Sac State degree in just three and a half years and was one of the top graduates from the UC Davis School of Law. His academic and professional successes were born partly out of a painful moment early on in college.

During a 100-meter race in 2004, Person pulled up lame after suffering a serious hip-flexor injury. He was crestfallen.

“It was bitter because nobody wants to go out that way—being injured—but it was sweet because it pushed me and allowed me to really focus on reaching out and doing other things,” Person says.

Freed from the commitment of training to compete athletically, Person threw himself into the college experience. With his collegiate athletic career over, he quickly found another competitive outlet: Sac State Debate. After competing on the debate team in high school, Person was poised to excel in college.

“It was great. That was where I got my first opportunity to do any type of real oral advocacy,” Person says. “Kristin Tudor-Hamilton (Sac State Debate director) gave me the green light and she let my creativity shine.”

Person joined Phi Beta Sigma and led its community service projects whenever he could. He served as president of his fraternity and developed relationships with non-profits like the Sacramento Food Bank. Person has a habit of giving back.

“That mindset is one I still use today at my firm when I’m doing pro-bono work,” Person says.

Whenever he has the chance, Person returns to Sac State to speak to students about pursuing careers in law. He says he can’t help but reach out to those who need a hand.

“Being an attorney and going to law school is a difficult path,” he says. “I didn’t find many mentors in school, but I did reach out to some. If I can make it easier for the next person, it’s my duty to do that. I really grew as a person through college by just realizing that I like giving back and helping people.”