California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - April 1999
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Legal specialist exam set Aug. 19
Sullivan to take reins at Stanford Law School
Only two appointed members remaining on State Bar board
Legal services board has five vacancies
Davis taps Michael Kahn
State Bar honors Justice Mosk with Witkin Medal
Board tentatively approves budget based on dues of $384
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If it distracts, so be it
Let's cut back on jury service
Limit bar to admissions and discipline
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From the President - Door to justice must be open
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Letters to the Editor
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Law Practice - Preparing for a successful mediation
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Appointments - Apply to serve on a bar committee
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Legal Tech - DSL speeds up Internet - at a reasonable price
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New Products & Services
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MCLE Self-Study
Taxes and long-term care
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Trials Digest
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Ethics Byte - Fiduciary duties basis for all rules
Attorney nabbed at State Bar offices for soliciting murders
Attorney Discipline
Ethics for the 21st Century - A canon for the future
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Public Comment
Sullivan to take reins at Stanford Law School
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Kathleen Sullivan, a nationally eminent constitutional law scholar, will become the dean of Stanford University Law School Sept. 1.

Sullivan, 43, was chosen from a short list of Stanford law professors after a five-month search.

"She is everything one could ask for in a dean: an outstanding teacher and scholar, an active lawyer and a public intellectual," said Stanford president Gerhard Casper, himself a constitutional scholar who helped recruit Sullivan from Harvard University Law School six years ago.

Kathleen SullivanSullivan is a popular professor at Stanford, and has continued to practice law while teaching, as well as providing commentary on television news and public affairs programming and in the pages of the New York Times.

Calling Stanford "a magnificent law school," Sullivan said she was "deeply honored and greatly excited to have been asked to assume its leadership."

She succeeds Paul Brest, who will return to teaching after 12 years as dean. Brest called Sullivan "a brilliant choice to assure Stanford Law School's preeminence in the 21st century."

Sullivan's appointment as the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean follows other accomplishments at an early age. She began teaching at Harvard, where she earned her law degree, at age 29 and earned tenure there at 33.

She was first mentioned in national legal publications as a future Supreme Court nominee at age 36 and was appointed the first Stanley Morrison Professor of Law at Stan-ford when she was 41.

An influential constitutional law scholar, Sullivan has published widely and is an active appellate litigator, arguing numerous cases in the federal and state courts and two in the Supreme Court.

She wrote an amicus brief on behalf of President Clinton in the Paula Jones case.

Last year, the National Law Journal named Sullivan one of the "Fifty Most Influential Women Lawyers in America" and California Law Business included her in its list of top 100 attorneys in the state.

Tough times

Sullivan assumes the position of dean at a time when Stanford faces a federal investigation of discrimination complaints from 15 female professors and researchers.

The U.S. Labor Department is looking into charges that the university violates federal anti-discrimination law in the hiring and promotion of women.

Stanford has more than $500 million in federal contracts that could be in jeopardy if violations are proven.

Sullivan was a protege of Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe. They worked together as co-counsel on several Supreme Court cases.

At Stanford, she co-authored the 13th edition of Constitutional Law, by Professor Emeritus Gerald Gunther, who in 1997 described Sullivan as "the most brilliant analyst and best teacher in the field, period."

Sullivan also wrote First Amendment Law with Gunther and New Federalist Papers: Essays in Defense of the Constitution.

Always a teacher

But it is teaching which has always been at the center of her career plans. As an undergraduate at Cornell, Sullivan planned to teach literature.

Then came the Watergate hearings, the "brief moment when lawyers were heroes," she said. She changed plans and applied to law school. The "law seemed to be a place where you could devote moral energy."

So respected in the classroom is Sullivan that she won Stanford's John Bingham Hurlburt Award for excellence in teaching.

At Harvard, she received the first-ever Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence in 1992, even though she spent the spring of that year as a visiting professor at Stanford.

"I think it was clear among our class that Professor Sullivan brought a certain freshness to the classroom and a tremendous amount of energy," said Ross Antonson, a member of that class at Harvard.

Sullivan received her undergraduate degree at Cornell, went to Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship and earned another B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics.

After earning her law degree in 1981, she clerked for Judge James L. Oakes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and practiced law in Boston for two years before returning to teach at Harvard in 1984.