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Stanford Law School is more than a workplace for Professor Deborah Rhode. It's a cause worth supporting.

A Charitable Insider: Deborah Rhode

Spring 2012

Deborah RhodeShe's not only the nation's most frequently cited scholar in legal ethics, but she’s also a generous donor to Stanford Law School. That's because Deborah Rhode believes in walking her talk.

"I teach legal ethics and talk about the value of public service and the rewards of giving, so I feel that my actions need to match my rhetoric," says Rhode, Stanford's Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law.

Rhode has focused her giving in two areas of particular interest to her––leadership training in the legal profession and public interest law. Toward that end, in 2004, she established the Deborah L. Rhode Public Interest Award, which is now given annually to a graduating third-year student (or student team) who has demonstrated outstanding non-scholarly public service during law school. Also in 2004, she endowed a fund for the Ethics Center to support student projects in the public interest.

"So often we give awards to students with the highest grade point average and the best written work, but those are the ones who will be rewarded in the job market," Rhode explains. "I wanted to make sure we also honor those who are making contributions to the public interest community."

Last year she established the Rhode Leadership Fund in Law, which supports leadership training and curriculum development at the Law School, particularly in collaboration with the Center on the Legal Profession, which she directs. "The law profession provides the highest proportion of leaders, yet law education does not do enough to prepare students for that role," she says. "My giving is a gesture in a direction in which I'm hoping the school will go farther."

The author of 20 books in the fields of legal ethics and gender, law, and public policy, Rhode is consistent and generous annual donor to school's annual fund, as well. Before joining the faculty, she was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. "Law is an enormously privileged profession––we're paid quite well," she says. "I believe that with privilege comes the obligation to give back and leave the world a slightly better place that we found it."

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