This year’s graduating class has taken to calling itself the “guinea pig” class. A joke, yes—but this group has lived through some of the most dramatic changes in legal education. From the law school’s switch to a pass/fail grading system to the expansion of the clinical program, the explosion of joint degree opportunities, the alignment of the law school’s calendar with the university’s, and the move to the quarter system—the Class of 2010 has been at the cutting edge of these changes since arriving on campus in September 2007. And if academic changes weren’t enough—not to mention the collapse of the economy with its attendant (and anxiety-provoking) disruption of the market for legal services—bulldozers and cranes have been constant companions, with the Munger Graduate Residence under construction until fall 2009 and the new academic building a mere vision of rising steel just taking shape as 3Ls leave Stanford Law. But where there is change, there is opportunity. Here, three graduating JDs share their thoughts on the opportunities they’ve taken hold of since the beginning of their legal studies.
Life at Munger Graduate Residence
By Jamillah Bowman ’10 (PhD ’11)
After hours of reading cases and analyzing data, I exit the back door of the law school in a slight daze. I cross the courtyard and enter the lobby of my building to the calming tune of a classical composition played passionately on the piano by a fellow resident. Now I can relax. I am home.
As a Stanford PhD student before my law school days, I am one of the few students who witnessed the progression of Munger construction in its entirety. I was around when the architecturally mastered complex was just a massive hole that everyone complained about as a noisy eyesore that displaced valuable parking spaces.
While many 3Ls elect to live off campus, I was excited about the prospect of being one of the first students to live in the new residence—right next to the law school. Living in Munger has provided a unique opportunity to remain fully engaged in the activities at SLS while also establishing friendships and professional networks with students from other departments. With all the student organizations, journals, clinical choices, and programs here at Stanford Law, many law students don’t have time to take advantage of the exceptional opportunities offered across the university. But Munger provides centrally located housing where students from a broad range of disciplines come together to live and learn. This connects law students with the broader campus community and nurtures collaborations consistent with the law school’s goal of promoting interdisciplinary learning.
As a community associate at Munger, I work with a team of students to plan academic, cultural, and social events for residents. It has been extremely rewarding to interact with such a talented group of students, most of whom I would never have come in contact with if I didn’t live in this new and vibrant community. For example, my next-door neighbors include an MBA candidate, an engineering student, and a musicology PhD student. Whether through participating in a drumming workshop, playing games in the lounge, or attending a small group dinner, the level of camaraderie is energizing.
Munger offers much more than spacious rooms, stylish furniture, and perfectly manicured lawns. While the community is still in its infancy, it has quickly become a rich and dynamic learning environment that further connects law students with each other and with the wider Stanford graduate community. As a joint degree student who enjoys exchanges across disciplinary boundaries, living in Munger has been an invaluable experience. And that it’s right next to the law school makes it even more so.
Following graduation, Bowman will be a doctoral fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago, finishing up her dissertation research. She plans to pursue a career in academia.
International Joint Degree Program
David “DJ” Wolff ’10
How many law students can say that they spent their 2L year taking classes in London studying international affairs, foreign policy, and international law with students from more than 40 countries? Or for that matter, how many have had the opportunity to live in the best graduate residence in the country?
With an academic passion that resides at the intersection of international law, politics, and policy—I came to Stanford primarily for its unparalleled support of interdisciplinary study. Dean Kramer has positioned Stanford Law at the forefront of this movement, recognizing that in the new century the best lawyers will need both a world-class legal education and additional focused subject-area training. Wanting to maximize this opportunity, I approached Stanford Law administrators about the prospect of doing an international joint degree at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). They could not have been more supportive; they worked with me to readjust my financial aid package, to secure approval of the program from the university registrar, and even argued on my behalf directly with the LSE.
Less than nine months later, I was fully immersed in British life; I was taking classes down the street from Westminster Abbey, listening to Bono play from the roof of the BBC, packing myself into the Tube every morning, spending my weekends playing football (soccer) as the only non-Brit on a London team and my evenings in the local pub debating everything from Parliament to the weather. I can’t think of a more valuable experience than learning from internationally renowned experts such as Christopher Greenwood QC, newly elected to the International Court of Justice, while simultaneously developing an understanding of and appreciation for the diverse perspectives my predominantly non-American classmates brought to our countless discussions.
Best of all, while in London I was able to stay connected to Stanford, continuing my work with the American Constitution Society’s Bay Area outreach committee as well as writing a book review for the Stanford Journal of International Law. Most importantly, the Office of Career Services (OCS) worked with me to secure a summer (and now full-time) job with a D.C. firm, where working in international trade and international dispute resolution I could exploit the knowledge gained at both Stanford and LSE.
Back on campus after my whirlwind year abroad, last fall I moved into the finally completed Munger Graduate Residence. What had been merely a hole in the ground when I left had taken form as the new Munger dorms, providing the country’s best law school with comparably ranked housing. When I walked into my new room, my jaw dropped. The rooms are so beautifully appointed and enormous (I have comfortably hosted cocktail parties for 20 in my single studio apartment). Nor could I ask for a better location, as my morning commute to class is roughly 100 yards. And here law students really do live and interact with students from Stanford’s many graduate programs—making it a truly interdisciplinary living environment. My only complaint about Munger is the same as I have about Stanford: A few short weeks from now I will have to leave.
After returning home to Connecticut to study for the bar, Wolff will be working as an associate at Crowell & Moring LLP in D.C.
The O&T Clinic
By Marin Babb ’10
One of the most exciting changes at Stanford Law School in recent years has been the development of the clinical program—which has grown from nine clinics in 2006 to 10 today. This year, the introduction of the new quarter system helped create an even stronger commitment to the clinical program as part of the law school curriculum. Participation in the clinics is now full time for one quarter, with no other law school classes allowed. This schedule allows students to fully engage in their clinic experience, much as if they were working for a law firm.
Taking part in the Organizations and Transactions Clinic (O&T) this past winter term gave me a new perspective on how to use the law to serve clients and also build a legal practice. As an O&T student, I worked on pro bono transactional matters for California nonprofit corporations. My clients included organizations that support sustainable agriculture practices, help former foster care youths transition to independent living, and provide residential education and treatment for children who have suffered trauma. These organizations operate in much the same way as for-profit companies—borrowing money, renting real estate, and pursuing strategic ventures as a means to accomplish their charitable goals. O&T participants advise their clients about such transactions and help them take the appropriate legal steps to facilitate their programs and serve their communities.
Our law school clinic space felt more like an office than a classroom as we 12 O&T students advised clients about entering deals, writing contracts, and revamping governance practices. The full-time clinic quarter schedule gave us a chance to share ideas and discuss our projects on a daily basis. The supervising attorneys encouraged this collaboration, wanting us to apply our collective knowledge within the clinic to give our clients the best work we could produce. As in my regular law school courses, I found that one of the best parts of being in a clinic was learning from and working with my classmates.
This learning process also reflects the rapid growth and development in O&T since its start in 2007, the year I began my legal studies. By the time I joined the clinic, O&T had cultivated ongoing relationships with several nonprofits and continued to bring in new clients each term. The clinic directors and former students had created a reputation and an institutional memory for the clinic. I reached out to O&T alumni as I prepared for board meetings, and I valued the lessons learned from their experience. Every class has contributed something lasting, from new model contracts to innovative ways to present information to clients. As a result, O&T is able to do a broader range of transactional work—and turn out a better product—with every new term. To me, this is what the clinic experience has been about: helping each other develop the skills we need to serve our clients in pursuing their missions.
Next year, Babb will be working at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles.