Santa Clara University School of Law Professor
Stephanie Wildman has an expertise and a passion: public interest law. Not content to have it merely accepted by law schools, she wanted to see it integrated into the curriculum. “I went to law school thinking it was about social justice. I was surprised to learn that it was not the focus of legal education,” she says. So she co-authored a casebook on social justice, a major step toward making it a legitimate area of law school study.
In 1999, Wildman, a Stanford graduate (law and undergrad), founded the Boalt Hall Center for Social Justice. Seeing the commitment of Santa Clara Law’s faculty to social justice as an area of excellence and specialization, Wildman joined Santa Clara Law in 2001 as professor of law In 2007, Wildman, who has taught for 32 years, was given the highest honor a law school professor can receive: the Society of American Law Teachers’ (SALT) Great Teacher Award, which recognizes “individuals who have made especially important contributions to teaching.”
Wildman was chosen because, according to SALT, she has “inspired countless students and colleagues through her teaching, her activism, her scholarship, and her unique ability to build institutions and coalitions.” In receiving this award, Wildman joins Cruz Reynoso, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and other well known lawyers and jurists who have been recognized as excellent educators.
Robert Cullen, teacher of leadership for lawyers courses at SCU, says leaders challenge existing institutions to open them up to new ideas. They push institutions to examine things they normally wouldn’t, creating positive change and thwarting stagnation. Wildman did this in her effort to include social justice in the curriculum. Her credibility in her field, and her ability to inspire others, are hallmarks of her leadership, says Cullen.