"It’s an exciting time to be alive”
---------Interview with Stanford Law School Dean Kramer Editor’s Note
: Xing Talk is a new column runs regularly by Xing Zong, a Chinese graduate student at Duke University pursuing a Ph.D. degree in physics. As a rocket scientist, Xing’s passion also lies in writing and interacting with people. He contributes to China.com regularly with his interesting interviews of Presidents in U.S. top universities, Nobel Laureates, business/law school deans and leading academicians. As Xing said, “my biggest discovery after arriving in U.S. was that my first name “Xing” had a nice interpretation of the on-road sign crossing. Indeed, I stand at the cross road of two different cultures and eager to connect Uncle Sam and Red Dragon.” Recently Xing held an exclusive interview with Prof. Kramer, Dean of Stanford Law School. About Stanford Law School (SLS)
Stanford Law School was established in 1893 when former President Benjamin Harrison joined the faculty as the first professor of law. It employs about 50 faculty and hosts over 500 students who are working towards their Juris Doctor.
Stanford Law School is one of the most prestigious and elite law schools in the United States, typically ranking in the top three in the US News & World Report annual rankings of law schools and currently ranked second. The late Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are both Stanford alumni, as is Chief Justice of California Ronald M. George. Xing Zong: Dean Kramer, let’s first talk about Stanford Law School’s admission, which is fiercely selective. The applicant pool is more than 4,000, but the class size is around 170 students. What kind of qualifications do you value from an applicant? Could you please rank the following factors in a series of descending importance? Undergraduate GPA, graduate degree, working experience, LSAT score, extracurricular activity, leadership, recommendation letters and personal statement.
Kramer: At Stanford, we choose students on their record as a whole. Numbers count, though we place less emphasis on them than other top law schools. But I could not really rank the factors you list in any order of importance because they all count and because different factors may count for more or less in any individual case. We try to assess the whole person and to admit students who look creative, interesting, and ambitious as well as smart. Xing Zong: Typically what kind of backgrounds do law school students have? How do you compare a student with mathematics degree and a student with English literature degree?
Kramer: There is no typical background at Stanford Law School, and our students have widely varied experience. They come from all over the United States and from many different countries. More than 70% have spent time working after college before applying to law school. They have worked in business and law, in government and public interest organizations. They have been entrepreneurs and inventors and artists. This past year, we admitted a rodeo star. We believe there are many different kinds of excellence and are open to them all. We do not compare a mathematician to someone who studied literature as if they could be compared along a single metric. Rather we ask who has shown inventiveness and creativity and energy and brilliance in whatever they have been doing. Xing Zong: Stanford Law School students publish a number of journals every year. The most influential journal is Stanford Law Review. This is the issue that I would like you to address. The editors of top academic journals in other fields, such as science, nature, or some humanity journals, are unanimously faculty. Why editors in law journal are all students? What percentage of SLS students work on a law review or journal?