Stanford University is an earnest launching point for some of the most successful tech and business minds of the 21st century. The highly selective university is also home to the No. 4 law school in the US.
Business Insider’s recently released best law schools ranking considered the job and career statistics of graduates as a chief indicator of a top law school. Seventy-three percent of Stanford Law School alumni secure highly coveted jobs after graduation, according to data provided by the American Bar Association.
Below, we highlight 11 of the most successful and legendary Stanford Law alumni of all time, from the first female Supreme Court justice to the chief operating officer of a multibillion-dollar tech startup.
William Rehnquist, class of 1952, served on the US Supreme Court for 33 years, 19 of which he was chief justice.
Prior to his legendary tenure, Rehnquist — a proponent of federalism — practiced law in Arizona for 16 years. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed him to assistant attorney general, where he made his opposition of civil rights legislation known.
In 1972, Rehnquist took his seat on the Supreme Court and for nearly two decades represented the conservative minority. Later, as chief justice, he improved the efficiency of the court and led decisions to restrict affirmative action and return power to the states. Rehnquist died in 2005.
Cheryl Mills, class of 1990, became a public fixture in politics after serving as deputy White House counsel for Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in 1999.
Most recently, Mills was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff and lead lawyer, notably involved in the Democratic presidential nominee’s private email server controversy. Mills is also the founder and CEO of BlackIvy, a company that builds enterprises in Africa.
Anthony D. Romero, class of 1990, has been the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) since 2001.
Romero’s tenure at the ACLU began just one week before the 9/11 attacks. The first Hispanic and openly gay director has fought back against government initiatives like the Patriot Act and the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. He was named to TIME’s list of the most influential Hispanics in 2005.
Source: Academy of Achievement
In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor, class of 1952, became the first female US Supreme Court justice after receiving an appointment from President Ronald Reagan.
O’Connor worked her way through the Arizona court system for nearly 30 years before her move to the country’s highest court, where she spent the latter years of her 25-year tenure as the swing vote, often in cases regarding civil rights, personal privacy, and protection against discrimination. The now-retired justice was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009.
David Drummond, class of 1989, has been a Google executive for 14 years.
Drummond was working at a corporate law firm in 1998 when he was hired as Google’s first outside law counsel. He officially joined the burgeoning tech company in 2002 and currently serves as vice president of corporate development for Alphabet and chairman of Google Ventures and Google Capital. He’s also on the board of Uber.
Source: Google Capital
Although Dropbox COO Dennis Woodside earned a law degree from Stanford in 1995, he only spent two years as a mergers and acquisitions attorney before making the leap to business.
Woodside joined Google in 2003, where he started the company’s first business operations group and later led US ad sales, growing revenue by more than $ 7 billion. In 2012, he transitioned to CEO of Motorola where he stayed for two years before heading to Dropbox.
Source: Business Insider
Current US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker graduated from Stanford with a dual JD and MBA in 1984, forging a career in both politics and business.
In addition to her governmental duties, the billionaire Hyatt hotel heiress is at the helm of several companies, including Pritzker Realty Group, retirement-community developer Vi, and Artemis Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment manager.
Peter Thiel, class of 1992, is one of the most successful and outspoken figures in Silicon Valley.
The billionaire worked as a judicial clerk for a short time before cofounding PayPal, netting about $ 55 million from the sale of the company in 2002.
An active angel investor, Thiel’s Founder’s Fund has backed preeminent tech companies like Facebook, Airbnb, SpaceX, Palantir, and Spotify. This summer, Thiel made headlines as the secret backer of a lawsuit against Gawker Media, and he also made history as the first openly gay speaker at the Republican National Convention.
Source: Business Insider
Warren Christopher, class of 1949 and founder of the Stanford Law Review, served as the 63rd US secretary of state during Bill Clinton’s first term as president in 1993.
Prior to his appointment, Christopher was a partner at renowned Los Angeles-based law firm O’Melveny and Myers. He went on to serve as deputy attorney general during President Lyndon Johnson’s administration and as deputy secretary of state during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, in which he notably contributed to negotiations during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. Shortly after, President Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, recognizing his commitment to pursing peace. Christopher died in 2011.
Source: The Washington Post
Michael Arrington, founder and former editor of influential Silicon Valley-based blog TechCrunch, graduated from Stanford Law in 1995.
In the years following, Arrington was a corporate and securities lawyer serving clients like Pixar, Apple, and Netscape as well as several startups and investment banks. Arrington’s online payments company Achex was acquired for $ 32 million in 2001. In 2008, three years after founding TechCrunch, he was recognized by TIME as one of the world’s most influential people.
Source: Business Insider
Shirley Hufstedler, class of 1949, became the US secretary of education under President Jimmy Carter and ran the newly formed Department of Education.
Hufstedler started her law career as a solo practitioner before becoming the only female judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1961.
Shortly after, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Hufstedler to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, making her the second-ever female to hold the position. In 1979, she spent 13 months as secretary of education. Hufstedler died in March 2016 at age 90.
Source: Stanford Law School
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