Most people only get to spend three years at Stanford Law School. As a Clinical Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in Law in the Mills Legal Clinic, I get to experience Stanford Law School every day. Having joined the academic staff of the Criminal Defense Clinic mid-academic year last spring, I decided to pop in and observe 1L Orientation, to experience a flavor of the welcoming spirit extended to newcomers like me. From the last row of the gorgeous recently remodeled room 290 in the Crown classroom building, here is what I learned about today’s SLS, as I sat among the newest members of our community, the Class of 2026.
Stanford Law School is an inclusive place. We celebrate diversity. Sitting around me were students from all across the country, with different academic and professional interests, united in the common journey of legal education. As I heard Provost Jenny Martinez, Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, Faye Deal, and Director of Student Affairs, Holly Parrish, greet our newest cohort of students, I felt the pride in the variety of who we are. Together, representing so many perspectives and life experiences, we combine toward a more promising future.
Stanford Law School is an innovative place. The Orientation program provided insight to incoming students about their professors’ work beyond the podium. Delving deeper than the topics of torts, contracts, and property, a flight of professors provided ten-minute overviews of their scholarship and academic work outside of the classroom. These presentations reminded us that a career in law can lead to innovations that can increase access to justice for those who need it most. Associate Dean of Clinical Education, Jayashri Srikantiah, discussed her work with the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, making sure immigrants, who are detained and awaiting due process, access fundamental rights like basic access to a phone. William Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law, Daniel Ho, provided hope that endeavors like the Stanford RegLab can reduce bureaucratic paperwork delays that plague institutions like the IRS and the VA. Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Pam Karlan, reminded us that we can change the law as we know it now, just as she has in her incredible career of Supreme Court advocacy in LGBT marriage equality and so many other issues. The innovation at Stanford is not experimental. It is innovation aimed toward social justice.
Stanford Law School is an empowering place. Students arrive as energetic 1Ls, eager and enthusiastic. They will leave three years from now with doctrinal knowledge, analytical skills, clinical or experiential practice, empowered by those of us who work here because we believe legal education makes the world a better place. So let me join the chorus welcoming the Class of 2026. Thank you for letting me sit in on your Orientation, providing me a window into the values and culture of Stanford Law School. In you, and in the Law School, I see a bright future.
Carlie Ware Horne is a lecturer in law and clinical supervising attorney in Stanford Law School’s Criminal Defense Clinic.