Law School

Dear alumni and friends,

We began the 2018–19 academic year at Vanderbilt Law School full of gratitude for our successes to date and confident in what we will accomplish in the year ahead with your support.

We received an all-time high of 5,176 applications for the J.D. Class of 2021. This impressive class brings professional experience from a variety of fields in both private and public sectors, and they, along with the international attorneys in our LL.M. Class of 2019, will greatly enhance our learning community. I sincerely appreciate the alumni volunteers who interviewed 1,414 applicants and shared their valuable feedback as we recruited the Class of 2021. We look forward to watching these students flourish in our intellectually challenging, collegial school.

Your support helps us recruit and retain an outstanding faculty of leading intellectuals who impact public policy. Professor of Law Ganesh Sitaraman—among the legal academy’s deepest thinkers on democracy—was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow this spring after being named one of Vanderbilt University’s Chancellor Faculty Fellows last fall. His 2017 book, “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic,” was named one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2017. Sara Mayeux, assistant professor of law, received the 2018 Cromwell Article Prize, awarded annually for the best article in American legal history published by an early career scholar, for her Columbia Law Review article, “What Gideon Did.” Yesha Yadav, professor of law and Enterprise Scholar, has been nominated to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Technology Advisory Panel as a special government employee, where she will advise the CFTC’s commissioners on issues related to new technologies.

Scholarships allow Vanderbilt to attract top students. Sam Mallick ’18 (BA’14), a dean’s list scholar and executive editor of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, graduated in May without the burden of excessive debt thanks to the Sanders Family Scholarship. Sam is excited to begin a two-year clerkship with a U.S. District Court judge in Little Rock, Arkansas. Zoe Beiner ’18 applied to 15 law schools and ultimately chose Vanderbilt because of our warm, engaging community and her John Wade Scholarship. She was senior notes editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and served on the Moot Court Board, Honor Council and the Jewish Law Students Association. Zoe has accepted a two-year clerkship with a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta, Georgia. Dora Duru, Class of 2020, is the second recipient of the Helen Strong Curry International Legal Scholarship. She spent this past summer as a fellow with the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) program, where she analyzed the role lawyers played during the Holocaust.

Our classroom experience continues to be enriched by the prominent legal minds you help bring to campus. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor inspired our students with a candid conversation about her career in the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the sobering responsibilities of serving on our nation’s highest court. Chris Giancarlo ’84, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, spoke about the need for a flexible, principle-based approach to regulating financial markets in the era of bitcoin, block chain, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Both Sotomayor and Giancarlo spoke as part of the Cecil Sims Lecture Series. We also welcomed as our Victor S. Johnson Lecturer the prominent scholar Randall Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School, who spoke about the Kneel-In Movement and the importance of religion and race relations.

We continue to garner national recognition for our success in placing students in judicial clerkships and prominent law firms. Samiyyah Ali ’16, will begin her term clerking for Justice Sotomayor in October, giving us two Supreme Court clerks in consecutive years. Cameron Norris ’14 (BA’11) recently completed his clerkship with Justice Clarence Thomas.

Nineteen members of the Class of 2018 have secured 20 clerkships—18 in federal courts and two in New Jersey state courts. Since employment statistics are not finalized until 10 months after graduation, it is worth noting that Vanderbilt’s Class of 2017 ranked 10th among American law schools for graduates taking jobs with the 100 largest firms and 10th for the number of students—almost 10 percent of the class—going to federal clerkships. VLS ranked 11th in the country for placing graduates in full-time, long-term, bar-required positions, with 86 percent of the Class of 2017 employed in such positions.

I am so appreciative of the many volunteers, employers and mentors who help Vanderbilt Law School thrive. Our strong, active alumni community emboldens our efforts to recruit talented, motivated law students and faculty, ensures that our academic programs prepare our students for legal practice in the 21st century, and equips our students with the skills and tools to launch successful legal careers.

Thanks to you, our loyal alumni and friends, I am confident that Vanderbilt Law School will continue to excel. Please show your support with a gift to the Law School today.

Best regards, 

Chris Guthrie
John Wade-Kent Syverud Professor of Law