Create Change – Summer 2022

Executive Director's message

Be the change you wish to see in the world . . . – Gandhi

Anna Wang - Photo by Christine Baker-Parrish

Time flew by quickly this past school year, even as we adjusted to hybrid classes and work schedules. Congratulations to our newest graduates, the Class of 2022! While they were virtual for much of their time at SLS, I am grateful to have developed relationships with many of them over Zoom that I hope will continue on during their post-SLS public interest careers.

The Law School hosted graduation ceremonies for the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 on the same day in June since the prior classes’ festivities had been impacted by COVID restrictions. I was so disappointed to miss the celebrations as well as see alumni who returned to campus, as I was out on medical leave. Yet it was great seeing photos of the smiling grads–especially the fact that so many proudly wore their Pro Bono Distinction cords! There were 115 members of the Class of 2022 who graduated with pro bono distinction. We also had 58 faculty, staff, and instructors who performed at least 50 hours of pro bono service over the past year.

Image courtesy of GradImages

This has also been a time of transition for the Levin Center team. Chelsea Jones, the Levin Center’s Program Manager for the past two years, left our team to pursue a new opportunity. I think Diane Chin, our associate dean for public service, said it best in her message to students in March:

Chelsea joined us in February 2020, right before the world turned upside down and we all started sheltering in place. Despite her newness and our remoteness, Chelsea found ways to develop relationships to support our students through some of our hardest times. She has been integral in allowing the Levin Center to stay connected to and build community with our students. We are sad that she is leaving us and excited for her next adventure.

Thankfully, we were able to hire Melanie Stone to join us. She was previously in the Law School’s Office of Financial Aid and is eager to work with law students in a new capacity. Please join us in welcoming Melanie to our team. You can read more about Melanie below.

This issue also features a profile of Jennifer Clark, JD ’11, an alum who is an assistant solicitor general with the New York State Solicitor General’s office. It was a delight to reconnect with her and hear about how her career has progressed since graduating 11 years ago. We also have photos from students’ pro bono spring break trip to the Yurok Tribe in Northern California as well as our spring awards reception.

Image by Diane Chin

In May, the Levin Center convened the rising 2Ls and 3Ls who signed up to serve as Public Interest Fellows, Associates, and Mentors (PI-FAM). Students gathered outdoors in Canfield Courtyard to reflect on the leadership roles they will play in the SLS public interest community this upcoming school year and discussed their goals.

We also jointly hosted the Spring Community Leadership and Public Interest Awards reception with the Office of Student Affairs. See photos below.

I hope you enjoy reading about what has been happening on campus as well as news about our public interest alumni. The Fall will be here before we know it, along with the Class of 2025!


Alumna Who Planned To Pursue Law and Policy Ends up in Appellate Litigation

Who knew that Stanford Law School would not only prepare Jennifer Clark, JD ’11, to be an incredible public interest lawyer and help her with loan repayment, but also introduce her to her future spouse?

Clark married her classmate, Joe Giovannetti, JD ’11, (also a public interest attorney), who was assigned to the same 1L small section. She shares, “SLS appealed to me because of its small size. I wanted to know everyone in my law school class, in the hopes that this familiarity would create a positive collective experience (which turned out to be true!).”

She adds, “I knew I wanted to go into public interest, so part of the reason I picked SLS was also because of its strong loan repayment assistance program. My husband and I were both LRAP recipients for the duration of our student loan repayment windows, and LRAP has made a MASSIVE difference in our lives. It truly did allow us to pick the jobs we wanted to have while making it possible to pay down our debt, travel, buy a home, and have kids. I am forever indebted to the SLS LRAP program.”

On a fun note, Clark also mentioned that she was drawn to the idea of coming to the West Coast. “I am from New York State, and went to college in Massachusetts. The Bay Area was completely foreign to me, and Stanford’s campus looked like something from a fake high school on a TV show set. I was intrigued! I figured I’d end up back on the East Coast after law school, so this would be a chance to experience something different.”

After graduating from Tufts with a double major in English and Spanish in 2004, Clark spent four years working as a paralegal at a big law firm and then working at the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. Then she decided to go to law school because of her interests in law and policy. She explains, “When I was in college, I thought I’d go to law school and end up in D.C., working as counsel in the office of a Senator or in the White House. I actually tried that out my 1L summer, and learned it wasn’t for me. (How helpful to have that opportunity and get that knowledge!) I still planned to go into public policy, though, because it seemed like the right intersection of law and policy and politics. When I came to SLS, I planned to get both my law degree and a public policy degree. I took a few public policy classes and determined that, for what I wanted to do, I didn’t need the extra degree. I could effect change with the advocacy skills I was already building in law school.”

While at SLS, Clark also participated in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, which remains a fond memory for her. She states, “[I] enjoyed focusing exclusively on the clinic experience during the quarter I was enrolled. I got to work on two merits-stage briefs and a cert petition, as well as help prepare our instructor for oral argument, all as a law student. I recognized it as a unique experience at the time, and to this day it stands out as something special I got to participate in by virtue of being at SLS.”

Yet Clark did not anticipate focusing on appellate litigation as a career. After graduating from SLS, Clark returned east and clerked for the Hon. Paul A. Engelmayer in the Southern District of New York and the Hon. Pierre N. Leval in the Second Circuit. She then joined the Brennan Center for Justice as Voting Rights and Election Law Counsel.

Clark observes, “Before and during law school, I assumed I’d work in public policy and issue-focused advocacy for most if not all of my career. And my first post-clerkships experience was that kind of job– I worked as a voting rights and election law counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice for three and a half years. I loved it, but when it came time to switch jobs, I ended up pivoting away from public policy.

“I had very little interest in litigation during law school, but now I’ve spent more than five years as an appellate attorney with the NYS SG’s Office. That is not a job that would have been on my radar as a law student, but it’s been fulfilling and fascinating. I see that your career can have seasons, shifting with you as your life shifts.”

Clark adds, “The opportunity arose to argue a particularly high-profile case before NY’s highest court while I was out on parental leave. I had been working on the case for years as it made its way through the appellate process, and really wanted to see it through to the end. My office worked with me to figure out a fragmented, part-time schedule that would allow me to piece together enough time to prepare for oral argument while still out on leave. I worked my butt off and presented an argument I was very proud of, before a tough bench… and we lost! But, even with the loss, the experience of handling something so high pressure at work while also managing home stressors felt like a testament to the fact that such a thing is possible with the right employer and the right job. Sometimes it can seem like that isn’t possible for attorneys, but this experience drove home that it can happen and is worth seeking out.”

In reflecting upon her career thus far, Clark observes, “In my non-profit role, I was an issue expert: I focused exclusively on voting rights and elections, and got to know the issues I worked on in and out. In my current job, I’m very much a generalist: I handle cases about NYS administrative law, the First Amendment, employment discrimination, you name it. The jobs are quite different, and both have been interesting and rewarding in their own ways.

“When I interviewed for my current job, I remember being asked how I would feel being ‘on the other side of the v.’, meaning more often than not representing the party being sued, rather than being on the side advocating for change by way of litigation. Navigating that line is something I take seriously, and I do think my background as a non-profit attorney is a helpful viewpoint to add to a government office. To me, it’s a positive to see more attorneys with a non-profit background move into government positions, or be appointed to or run for judgeships. It helps our systems of government to have this kind of cross-pollination.”

Clark wants students to know that “a career can be long and varied, and you don’t necessarily need to be one ‘kind’ of lawyer. I am eleven years into my law career and it already looks different than I thought it would.”

Melanie Stone Joins Levin Center As New Program Manager

Melanie Stone

We are thrilled to welcome Melanie Stone as our new Program Manager. She will work closely with students and alumni as she will directly manage our mentoring program, mock interview program, and summer funding program, as well as support other Levin Center staff with events related to the Pro Bono Program and career development program.

Melanie first joined Stanford Law School in 2019 as an administrative associate in the faculty support team. Most recently, she served as an advisor in the Office of Financial Aid. Among other duties, she managed the student employees for the faculty. Before joining SLS, Melanie held director-level positions in marketing and human resources working for emerging tech companies in Silicon Valley. She helped her company become the preeminent wireless network for the Internet of Things. Currently, Melanie focuses her energies on community service and assisting students in creating an enjoyable law school experience. Consequently, her interest in the Levin Center is a natural fit. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

All Levin Center staff are working hybrid schedules but we encourage students to come meet Melanie on the third floor of Crown sometime. Her desk is in the cubicle directly in front of Anna Wang’s office.

SLS Public Interest Alumni in the News

We like to share news of our SLS Public Interest alumni. Please feel free to forward links for us to include in future issues.

Peter Broderick, JD '13, Legal Director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Urban Wildlands Program, was quoted in this article about a lawsuit he filed to stop a luxury resort development in Northern California.

President Joe Biden nominated Tiffany Cartwright, BA '07/JD '10, to serve as a district court judge in the Western District of Washington on January 19, 2022. On June 16, 2022, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to allow her nomination to go to the full Senate for a vote.

Savannah Fletcher, JD/MS '18, was elected to the North Star Borough Assembly (Seat F) in Fairbanks, Alaska, and is now the youngest member of the Assembly. She moved to Alaska to clerk for the Hon. Susan M. Carney on the Alaska Supreme Court and then remained to work as a Native Law Staff Attorney with Alaska Legal Services.

President Joe Biden nominated Adair Ford Boroughs, JD '07, to be South Carolina's next U.S. Attorney on June 6. The Senate approved her nomination by voice vote on July 21, 2022.

Matt Haney, JD/MA '10, was elected to the California State Assembly representing Assembly District 17, covering the eastern half of San Francisco. He previously served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as well as a member of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education.

Trisha Miller, JD '04, who recently started a new position as Senior Director for Industrial Emissions, White House Domestic Climate Policy Office, wrote this Op-Ed about her experience with COVID earlier this year.

Matt Platkin, BA '09/JD '14, was nominated by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to serve as the next New Jersey Attorney General.

About Create Change

Create Change is designed and produced quarterly by the staff of the John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law. Unless specifically noted, all articles are written by staff:

Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law: Diane T. Chin
Executive Director: Anna Wang
Director, International Public Interest Initiatives: Titi Liu
Director, Pro Bono and Externship Programs: Mike Winn
Assistant Director, Public Interest Career Development Program: Shafaq Khan
Program Manager: Melanie Stone

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