From the Dean 6
Jenny S. Martinez – Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law

Someone, somewhere coined the phrase that “all politics is local.” It stuck because it makes sense. Where we live dictates much about us and our paths in life, from the caliber of medical treatment available within a reasonable distance of our homes to whether our children will receive a good education to whether air quality is a daily consideration. At the same time, much of what happens locally does not stay isolated for long. We see this clearly in the context of challenges such as immigration, climate change, and the rule of law, where the pain someone feels in a far-off place today has an eventual effect on us.

The work of James Williams, JD ’10, is testament to the truth that local action ripples out beyond its immediate environs. He has built his career in government service right here in Santa Clara County since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2010. Williams, who serves as Santa Clara County counsel, along with his team, led the effort to draft the legal orders when Santa Clara County coordinated the response for the Bay Area’s six counties to issue the first shelter-in-place orders in the country at the beginning of the global pandemic. Their work became a template for cities and counties across the country—all navigating uncharted health and legal territory and desperate for guidance.

Williams knows the power of law and how it can be used in local government to help improve the lives of residents in the county—but also in the state and beyond. In California, as we learn in this issue’s feature article, counties can represent the people of the state, as Santa Clara did when it filed the landmark case to hold former lead paint manufacturers responsible for promoting lead paint for use in homes despite their knowledge that the product was highly toxic. I hope you’ll find time to read the article, which looks at Williams and his team (many of them SLS alums) and our faculty and students who have been fortunate to help on key projects in the Office of the Santa Clara County Counsel.

In this issue, we also shine a light on Bill Gould, who this year marks 50 years on our faculty. A towering figure in labor and sports law, Bill is still a powerful, prolific voice on these critical issues. His latest book, his eleventh, For Labor To Build Upon, is truly seminal. I had the pleasure to speak with Bill recently while creating a video to celebrate his contributions to SLS and was fascinated by the experiences and expertise he shared during our chat. Bill was the first Black member of the faculty, and I’m so grateful for the decades that he spent here at SLS imparting his wisdom on our students to their great benefit. [Go to to see the video.]

There is so much more in this issue, from profiles of California Supreme Court Justice Patricia Guerrero, JD ’97, and retired Pillsbury chair Mary Cranston, JD ’75 (BA ’70), to an engaging interview with venture capitalist Arthur Rock. I hope you’ll read on.