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Stanford Law School


Winter 2012 issue

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On the Hill, In the Courtroom, and Beyond: Alumnus Makes a Difference

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Wilfred U. Codrington III, JD '09 always knew he would leave the beautiful palm tree-studded Stanford campus and its sunny California winters to return to the East Coast. Yet his time here was part of a larger plan to acquire the skills necessary to become an effective advocate in a variety of arenas.

He explains, "My career since graduating from law school has been wholly defined by the public interest in the areas of litigation, administrative law, and public policy.  I did a short stint as an attorney advisor for the Chief Counsel of an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, followed by a year-long fellowship with the Campaign Legal Center working on issues in election law.  From there I transitioned onto Capitol Hill to work on the legislative staff for a Member of Congress.  I recently left for the opportunity to clerk for a federal district court judge in Manhattan."

While his current position clerking for Judge Deborah Batts of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was a decision plotted out nearly a year in advance, the other positions were not part of a planned career path. Codrington learned of the U.S. Department of Transportation opportunity from an SLS alumna who noted that a newly confirmed political appointee would need to hire attorneys; the fellowship was funded via a law firm deferral; and the Hill position came through networking, as an informational interview with another Hill office led to the job with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Codrington notes, "The law degree provides you with a unique skill set, which prepares you to deal with a wide array of complex problems."  As a joint-degree student at Stanford, he also earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government.  

When asked to share his most memorable professional experience, he cites an example from his time working on the Hill for Congresswoman Norton. He shares, "I stayed at the office very late into the night to prepare for a very controversial hearing the next day.  The tension was present even before the first questions for the panel, and my boss walked out of the hearing in protest.  I thought all of my work had been for naught but, little did I know, her protest would prompt the busiest two weeks of my time on the Hill.  The full committee hearing on the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain workplaces offer insurance policies to cover contraception—where Sandra Fluke was excluded as a witness on an otherwise all-male panel—brought more attention and press coverage to my boss than anything else during my time there.  Over the course of that period, the Congresswoman would rely on the hard work for a number of events and engagements, including press interviews, floor speeches, constituent meetings, etc., and I felt more vindicated for the thorough pre-hearing prep work."

During his time working on the Congresswoman's legislative staff, Codrington was responsible for a portfolio that included matters that came under a committee with very broad jurisdiction, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, as well as civil rights, election law, housing, and military/armed services.  He advised the Congresswoman in these areas to draft, analyze, and introduce legislation, to offer amendments to bills in committee business meetings (markup sessions), and to brief her in preparations for committee hearings and floor time.  He also met with interest groups and served as her liaison to the relevant regulatory agencies. 

Codrington observes, "I liked the fast pace of the Hill, and loved that it required me to draw on a broad base of skills learned in law school and my Master’s degree program."

Before graduate school, Codrington earned a B.A. with honors in Philosophy from Brown University.  He decided to pursue a law degree because "I grew up in an inner city, and was inspired to pursue a career aimed at remedying some of the social problems that I saw from an early age.  I studied ethics and political theory in college, and found my strengths to be writing, reading, debating, and bringing people together.  This, combined with my interests in the political system and my public interest values, made enrolling in law school seem like a reasonable choice."

The trek out West to Stanford was largely due to its reputation for excellence in legal education and its size. He observes, "I thrive in small class settings, and thought that Stanford’s intimate teaching environment would be best-suited to my learning style.  I also wanted the opportunity to leave the East Coast but keep open the option to return after some time.  I will remember fondly home brew beer tastings hosted by a particular (older and wiser) classmate and his wife.  Also, most every torts class with Alan Sykes."

While at Stanford, he also served as an editor of the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and worked on pro bono projects involving guardianship law, domestic violence, and unemployment. 

Codrington concludes by advising law students, "Use law school to explore and pursue what you are interested in, but always remain open to trying out new opportunities. And remember that whether you are employed by a non-profit, in the private sector, or work for a government entity, whether you do impact work, public policy, or direct services, there are ample and great opportunities to give back to others, and dearth of attorneys committed to these public interest causes."

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Levin Center Documents Attorneys in Bay Area Legal Services and Assesses the Justice Gap

Levin Center staff surveyed a wide spectrum of civil legal services providers in the seven San Francisco Bay Area counties to identify the number of lawyers who were on staff on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis as well as staff members designated as "advocates," who provide some level of supervised legal service beyond basic intake. 

Our report also documented attorneys and advocates in eight practice areas in which services were offered for free or very low cost. The final numbers represent our best effort at categorizing the San Francisco Bay Area's civil legal services providers into discrete categories. 

If you are a legal services provider who did not participate in our survey during the designated timeframe but would like to be included in the future, please contact Anna Wang at annawang@law.stanford.edu.

We thank all of the legal services attorneys who provided us with invaluable information and generously gave of their time to meet with us and explain their work.

See the full report on our website under Publications.  A direct link to the PDF file is also available here.

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Stanford to Host 13th Bay Area Asian Pacific American Law Student Association Conference

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Stanford Law School's Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association (APILSA) and the Levin Center will co-sponsor the 13th annual Bay Area Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (BAAPALSA) Conference, "Inspiring Voices."

It will be held at Stanford Law School on January 26.  Several SLS alumni and faculty will be panelists.  Early-bird registration is currently available for $15 per person.  More information is available at their website.

Stanford is an approved MCLE provider.  Thus, attorneys who attend can receive 5 hours of MCLE credit, with 1 hour of Ethics credit and 1 hour of Elimination of Bias credit.

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Students Help 18 Clients in Gilroy, California with Naturalization

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Stanford Law School students hopped on the Justice Bus, a project of our partner, OneJustice, on Saturday, November 10 to head to Gilroy, California. 

The Justice Bus Project trains and organizes urban lawyers and law students and literally buses them to rural parts of California to provide essential legal services.  The Levin Center annually sponsors four Justice Bus trips for students to contribute pro bono service and sharpen their legal skills.

Megan Byrne, JD '14; Joseph Casey, JD '14; Elvina Chow, LLM '13; Matthew Fine, JD '14; Jared Greenberg, JD '14;  Kevin Jason, JD '14; Rachel McDaniel, JD '14; and Duncan Taylor, JD '14 were the eight students chosen for this Justice Bus trip.

On this past November trip, our students staffed a naturalization clinic and helped 18 low-income clients become citizens. With special training and supervision provided by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, our students helped expand access to justice for our underserved neighbors in rural areas.

Pictured above, from left to right, are Fine, Byrne, Jason, Taylor, and McDaniel.

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Symposium Convened Human Rights Advocates from Around the World

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On October 12 and 13, 2012, fifteen leading public interest attorneys from around the world came to Stanford Law School for the Levin Center's inaugural International Public Interest Lawyering Symposium focused on the theme Advancing Gender Equality through Human Rights.

Christopher Stone, the President of Open Society Foundation and The Honorable Judge Patricia Wald delivered keynote addresses about their own careers advancing social justice.   Panelists included Executive Directors or Presidents of innovative human rights and international justice organizations and public interest attorneys from leading public interest legal organizations in Nigeria, China, South Africa, Malaysia, Palestinian Territories, China and Chile. 

Key summary conclusions included:

• The human rights approach can help create space for gender equality discussions and can be used strategically in litigation or rhetoric to advance gender equality
• However, human rights need to be understood in a proper local context if they are to contribute to real social change.
• Gender equality claims can also be communicated in other ways, as social justice claims for example.
• There are plenty of areas for collaboration and cooperation between international and national gender rights movements and other human rights movements.

We are finalizing the detailed documentation of lessons learned, which will be published on our website early next year. To view more information about the symposium including a video of the panels, click here.

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SLS Honored Judge Patricia M. Wald and David Sapp

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The Law School honored Judge Patricia M. Wald as its 2012 National Public Service Award recipient and David Sapp, JD '05 as its 2012 Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award recipient at a special dinner reception on October 11, 2012.  Over 150 students, faculty, alumni, and special guests gathered at the Munger Graduat Residence's Paul Brest Hall to recognize the recipients.

See our press release for more details about the awards and the award recipients.

Pictured above, from left to right, are Nancy Rubin, Judge Patricia Wald, Dean Liz Magill, Associate Dean Diane Chin, David Sapp, JD '05, Miles Rubin, JD '52 (BA '50), and Executive Director Anna Wang.

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