Widgets Magazine

Glam Grads with Hajin Kim, who works at the intersection of law and environment

Hajin Kim J.D. ’14 is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Environment and Resources as part of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. In this edition of Glam Grads, The Daily talked with Kim about her path to Stanford and her ongoing interdisciplinary research in law and environmental issues.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Can you tell me about yourself and how you arrived at Stanford?

Hajin Kim (HK): I am from Maryland and went to Harvard for undergrad. I worked in Korea for a year and spent three years in Chicago in management consulting. Then, I decided to pursue a total career switch and went to law school. In my first year I decided I wanted to do research so I applied to the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) Ph.D. program.

TSD: Why did you decide to change plans?

HK: I was not particularly interested in environmental issues as an undergrad, but while I was in Korea I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. As an economics major, I had always thought about environmental issues as externalities that we could fix with price incentives. However, we are not actually doing much about them, and this gave me interest to pursue this issue later. Then, when I was consulting and I wanted to get into the environmental space, I sat in on a few of my husband’s law classes in Chicago and began to think it was a good way to get involved in environmental issues.

TSD: What research are you currently working on?

HK: I am in the E-IPER Ph.D. program, which is the interdisciplinary program in environment and resources. What this means is that you take is two or more disciplines and look at the same issue. Roughly, my two disciplines are law and social psychology. One of the projects I am looking at now is when you have different regulatory forms — say, cap-and-trade or pollution tax programs versus a command-and-control mandate — [and] how that changes the different kind of incentives present for the companies involved.

TSD: How did you settle on this topic?

HK: I took a social norms class with Dale Miller, who is now one of my advisors. That class really changed the way I thought about law and the function that law has. As an economics major, I had always thought of law in a very functional way, but the idea of an expressive function of law was something that I had not considered before. He also has a theory on moral opportunity [that] I wanted to incorporate into my work.

TSD: Is there overlap between law school and your Ph.D. program?

HK: I would like them to be more intertwined than they are now… There is a lot of overlap in coursework, as Stanford makes it easy to do an interdisciplinary degree, and the Law School is so open to students doing a J.D. with anything, as they want lawyers to understand the way the world works. However, for my research, I am still trying to figure out a way to do that.

TSD: What are your plans for the future?

HK: I would love to be a legal academic, but considering the job market, I could also see myself practicing environmental law.

TSD: What do you do for fun? What is your favorite spot on campus?

HK: I play tennis with my brother and my husband, I see friends, I do what everybody else does! I’m not sure I have a favorite spot on campus, but I spend a lot of time at the Neukom Building. It’s a really beautiful space to study.


Contact Zachary Brown at zbrown ‘at’ stanford.edu.