Stanford News


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Law School graduates 214 students; honors Professor William B. Rubenstein

Stanford Law School graduated 214 students on June 15 during its annual commencement ceremony following the university commencement.

Of the 214 law school graduates, 188 received the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.), the basic degree of the legal profession. Another 12 received the Juridical Sciences Master's degree (J.S.M.) through Stanford's Program in International Legal Studies. An additional 14 students earned other law degrees at the master's and doctoral levels.

Paul Brest, the dean of Stanford Law School, presided over the outdoor ceremony and greeted more than a thousand relatives and friends of the graduates.

Professor William B. Rubenstein, speaker and honoree

William B. Rubenstein, consulting associate professor of law, was presented with the 1997 John Bingham Hurlbut Award for excellence in teaching. Chosen by a vote of the graduating class, Rubenstein was also the keynote speaker.

Rubenstein is one of the country's leading authorities on sexuality and health in the law. A former director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and national AIDS Project, Rubenstein served as counsel on a variety of litigation aimed at combating discrimination against, and advocating equal rights for, lesbians, gay men and people with HIV disease. He has taught courses on sexual orientation law at Harvard (1991­93) and Yale (1994­95) law schools and courses on AIDS-related law at Harvard Law School (1995­96) and at the Harvard School of Public Health (1995).

The Stanford award was presented to Rubenstein by Catherine Anne Ricca, president of the graduating class.

Dean Brest on affirmative action

Dean Paul Brest, in his annual commencement address, spoke about affirmative action to achieve diversity and how "the diversity that is a condition for [Stanford's] excellence is at risk."

Citing legal and political trends against affirmative action, Brest warned that the ability of schools to achieve diversity within student bodies has been put in doubt. "Stanford is not affected by the Regents' decision to prohibit the University of California from engaging in affirmative action, or by Proposition 209, which applies only to public institutions. But we would be immediately affected if the 5th Circuit's decision in Hopwood v. University of Texas became the law of the land," he said.

"Although the Supreme Court declined to review the 5th Circuit's decision in Hopwood, the issue will continue to be raised in the courts, in Congress and state legislatures ­ and Stanford will not ultimately be immune from whatever becomes national or state policy," he said.

"It has been suggested that admission based solely on socioeconomic disadvantage might maintain racial diversity. . . . Socioeconomic diversity is valuable in its own right, and it is already an important factor in Stanford's admissions process. But the demography of our applicant pool is such that admissions based on socioeconomic diversity cannot produce a racially diverse student body. This is confirmed by the precipitous decline in the enrollment of African Americans at the University of Texas, Boalt and some other U.C. law schools," he said.

The dean concluded: "Part and parcel of the enviable reputation enjoyed by Stanford Law School and by you, its graduates, has been an admissions process based on merit ­ where 'merit' has never been defined by raw numbers alone, but by the many factors that conduce to an outstanding student body and to superb members of the legal profession."

Top J.D. scholars

Jay Douglas Wexler was named the Nathan Abbott Scholar for earning the highest cumulative grade point average of the 188 J.D. graduates. Wexler also was awarded the First-Year Honor in 1994­95 and the Second-Year Honor in 1995­96 for the student with the highest cumulative grade point average at the end of his or her first and second Stanford years. He was given the Steven M. Block Civil Liberties Award and the Irving Hellman, Jr. Special Award for the outstanding student note published in the Stanford Law Review, and was one of the recipients of the Lawrason Driscoll Moot Court Award given to officers of the Moot Court Board.

With team member Sean Hecker, Wexler won the 1995­96 Marion Rice Kirkwood Moot Court Prize for Best Preliminary Respondent's Brief. And in 1994­95, Wexler was one of the recipients of the Hilmer Oehlmann, Jr. Prize awarded to the writers of outstanding work in the first-year Research and Legal Writing Program.

Robert N. Klieger received the Urban A. Sontheimer Third-Year Honor for the second highest cumulative grade point average in the graduating class. He won the Stanford Law Review Special Service Award in recognition of exceptional contributions to Volume 49 of the Stanford Law Review, and the 1995­96 Jay M. Spears Award for outstanding service to the Stanford Law Review by a second-year member. Klieger was also one of the recipients of the 1994­95 Hilmer Oehlmann, Jr. Prize.

Order of the Coif

Eighteen members of the class were elected to the Order of the Coif, the national law honor society. Membership in the order is extended to graduating students who rank in the top 10 percent of the class academically.

In addition to Wexler and Klieger, the newly elected members of the Order of the Coif are Michael Roland Barsa, Pamela Hope Black, Sean Hecker, Malcolm Alexander Heinicke, Ara Lovitt, Allison Anne Marston, Julia A. Martin, Daniel Gavin McBride, Natasha Langford Minsker, Colin Theodore Moran, Gail Marie Le Clerc Mosse, Deborah Jean Muns, Victor Madison Ortiz-De-Montellano, Antony Graham Page, Andor David Terner and Derek Owen Wallen.


By Constance Hellyer