In Barbara Banke’s home, there’s always a fine chardonnay waiting for the right occasion. But in business mode, Banke is preparing for a global wine shortage, driven by escalating demand and not enough vineyards to fulfill it.
It’s the kind of challenge Banke embraces. Inspired to pursue real estate law by her UC Hastings mentor, Prof. Stefan Riesenfeld, she specialized in complex land-use and eminent domain cases early in her career. When she married famed California winemaker and fellow attorney Jess Jackson, Banke became a vintner, applying her legal and business skills to the family enterprise. Upon her husband’s death in 2011, she took the helm of Jackson Family Wines, the nation’s largest seller of premium wines. Under Banke’s leadership, JFW has expanded strategically in California and into Australia and Oregon, and has launched a new brand, Avant, geared to budding oenophiles of the millennial generation.
Segueing from legal practice into business leadership is something today’s lawyers must be ready for, Banke believes. Law school “provides a good mental frame for assessing risks and solving problems,” she says. With additional investments in immersive, interdisciplinary learning and an eye toward global practice, UC Hastings can prepare future graduates to be sound strategists who, like Banke, find opportunities to thrive throughout their careers.