Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer announced Wednesday of spring break that he will be leaving the University to serve as president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a philanthropy organization that issues grants to solve social and environmental problems. Kramer will succeed current Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest, who also took the role upon leaving the Stanford Law School Dean position in 1999.
Kramer leaves behind a legacy of reforms to the law school curriculum, including developing clinics that allow law students to represent clients, moving the law school to the quarter system and overseeing expansion of the law campus.
“When Dean Kramer arrived, he made the buildup of the legal clinic one of his priorities,” said Lawrence C. Marshall, director of the Mills Legal Clinic, which operates as a single law firm and encapsulates the Law School’s assortment of litigation clinics, including ones devoted to international human rights, environmental law, community law and Supreme Court litigation.
“Since Dean Kramer has arrived in 2004, the law school has developed the capacity for every student to take a legal clinic,” Marshall said. “We’ve transformed the program from a part-time to a full-time program, expanded the range of opportunities across subject areas for students to study and engage in clinical work, and went from two to 10 clinics.”
Later this year, another new clinic will be open at the Law School — the Stanford Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic.
“It is a further testament to the diversification of kinds of experiences that are available through the program,” Marshall said in reference to the new clinic. “At a time, clinics were almost exclusively engaged in litigation. Now, we have clinics that work on transactions for nonprofit organizations, clinics that do fact-finding in the international human rights arena and, now, the Juelsgaard clinic, which will be engaged in policy-oriented work on behalf of clients.”
With the intention of facilitating interdisciplinary education with the rest of the University, the law school switched its academic calendar from a semester to a quarter system in the 2009-10 school year, under Kramer’s leadership.
“Professors are used to thinking about criminal law or contracts as a semester course,” said Paul Brest. “Changing the course to the more intensive period of a quarter requires retooling and working with faculty to overcome resistance. To help them change requires political and personal skills — and persuasion.”
Stanford is now among only a handful of law schools to use the quarter system.
Joint degree programs also saw a rise under Kramer’s leadership. Currently, the number of formal joint degree programs stands at 28.
In addition to reforms to the curriculum, Kramer oversaw the construction of the William H. Neukom Building and the Munger Residences.
“Mr. Neukom was a graduate of the law school, and I had begun getting to know him when I was dean,” said Brest in reference to the process of constructing the Neukom Building. “He seemed well-disposed to the law school, but it took Larry Kramer to build the trust, the confidence, and to develop the common interest to make the deal for Mr. Neukom to put as much money as he did into this beautiful new building.
“Underlying everything is a vision of the importance of the law school not just as a center for research but as a way of better preparing students for the legal profession and for work in public policy,” Brest added.
Over the years, Kramer has also held periodic, open town hall meetings. At each meeting, Kramer made a small presentation about the school’s current policies and opened the floor to questions.
“He would be very straightforward with the students,” said Adam Sieff, a first-year Stanford law student, referring to his impression of Kramer at one of the town hall meetings. “He would go step-by-step and be very transparent and very honest. I know as a student I appreciated that.”
Kramer’s new occupation as the president of the Hewlett Foundation has significant worldly implications, according to Susan Bell, vice president of the Hewlett Foundation and the deputy chair of the search committee for the foundation’s new president
“To conduct the process to search for the next president of the Hewlett Foundation, we decided to take the time to talk to people from all over the country and outside the country about the world in which this president would be operating the foundation over the next decade,” Bell said. “[We discussed] what are some of the issues that will be arising that will impact the work we do in education, global development and in the environment.”
“Larry has all the things we were looking for in terms of a bright and lively mind, a hunger and curiosity to make a difference in the world about the big issues that vex our society,” she added. “He has a wonderful way of going about his work, as has been demonstrated at the law school.”
Kramer also expressed his excitement for the new role.
“The role of the foundation is to deploy resources — not just financial, but human and intellectual — to make the world a better place,” Kramer said. “The opportunity to head such an organization was exciting to me, and Hewlett in particular focuses on issues that I care about and does so in ways that make sense to me.”