Santa Clara Law Alumni in Public Interest Jobs
Hundreds of Santa Clara Law alumni are working in public interest law jobs. Below is a small sample. This sample is designed primarily to give current Santa Clara Law students some idea about the range of possibilities. All of the alumni listed below have expressed their willingness to speak with current Santa Clara students about public interest career options. Current students may contact alumni via LinkedIn.
Ben Galloway JD ’01
Chief Assistant Federal Defender, Office of the Federal Defender, Eastern District of California
Ben is the Chief Assistant Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California, an area encompassing 34 counties. He supervises attorneys providing legal representation and advice to individuals financially unable to employ counsel in federal criminal cases and related matters. The Federal Defender’s Office handles a wide range of cases including felonies, misdemeanors, appeals, non-capital and capital habeas matters in the federal trial and appellate courts. Ben’s cases have been covered by national media outlets including the New Yorker Magazine, the New York Times, and the Associated Press.
“I went to law school to help society’s underrepresented. I wanted to learn to be an effective advocate for those who could not afford one. I felt Santa Clara Law’s commitment to social justice the moment I set foot on campus. Its faculty were like family. They helped make connections and opened doors to internships and clerkships that were critical first steps on my career path. SCU’s clinics, honors moot court, and trial team enabled me to get comfortable in the courtroom even before I had a bar card. Santa Clara Law’s public interest and social justice programs provided an ideal launching pad not just for me, but countless attorneys who aim to make our legal system more just and compassionate for everyone.”
Jessica Jackson JD ’11
Chief Advocacy Officer, Reform Alliance (2019-present); Co-Founder and National Director #Cut50 (2019-present); Habeas Corpus Resource Center (2011 – 2014)
Jessica Jackson is a leading human rights attorney with a passion for criminal justice reform. As a law student, Jessica co-founded the Santa Clara School of Law chapter of the American Constitution Society, which was named national Chapter of the Year under her leadership. She was also selected to serve as a student member of the National Board of American Constitution Society and awarded the Dean’s Leadership Award upon graduation.
In 2013, Jessica ran for and won a seat on the Mill Valley, California City Council becoming the youngest ever elected official in Marin County, where she focused on affordable housing, county homelessness, and emergency preparedness.
Jessica, alongside CNN commentator Van Jones and San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, co-founded #cut50, an initiative to end mass incarceration. While serving as National Director, Jessica oversaw legislative efforts securing the passage of over a dozen criminal justice reform bills including the bipartisan federal First Step Act, which the New York Times called “the most substantive criminal justice reform in a generation”.
In 2019, Jessica was awarded the Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize by Santa Clara University. Later that year she was named Chief Advocacy Officer at the REFORM Alliance where she oversees a policy and advocacy team focused on dramatically reducing the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system – starting with probation and parole reform. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica led the effort to mitigate the spread of the virus behind bars, helping catalyze the release of over 35,000 people from prisons and jails.
Jessica looks at her education, training and relationships from Santa Clara Law as giving her the tools to accomplish much of what she has done so far.
Stephanie Grogan Jones JD ’04
Judge Solano Superior Court (2018- pesent). Solano Public Defender (2004 – 2018)
Stephanie Grogan Jones graduated Santa Clara law with a Public Interest Certificate, emphasis in criminal justice. The social justice program prepared her to immediately hit the ground running as a Public Defender. The program instilled in her what Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote so many years ago, that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Matthew Warren JD ’15
Western Center on Law & Poverty,Oakland, California 2019- present, Law Foundation Silicon Valley ( 2015- 2019)
Matthew litigates housing matters in state and federal courts, advocating for the production and preservation of affordable housing, and providing technical support for legal services attorneys across California. He is committed to efforts to combat displacement of households of color from the diverse communities of California. “Santa Clara prepared me for a lifelong commitment to social justice and public interest work by exposing me to a range of opportunities that built my foundational advocacy skills. I received a summer Stevens fellowship to work for a nonprofit over the summer giving me needed experience.”
Keith Wattley JD ’99
Founder and Executive Director of UnCommon Law
Since 2007 UnCommon Law has proven the concept that healing-focused programs help people convicted of serious crimes dramatically improve their overall wellness, their success at being granted parole, and their performance after release. They represent people in parole hearings, and engage in litigation and policy advocacy to address systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Uncommon Law Founder and Executive Director Keith Wattley is a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation’s 2020 Leadership award. Each year these awards recognize leaders whose innovative solutions to critical state challenges improves people’s lives, create opportunity and contribute to a better California. Keith Wattley and Uncommon Law were recognized for his groundbreaking work employing trauma informed advocacy to change the California Parole process.
In 2018, Keith Wattley was selected as an inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow that recognized his unique approach to addressing violent crime.
The Obama Foundation noted that the inaugural year they received applications from over 20,000 people from 191 countries. From that incredible pool, they selected 20 inaugural Fellows who represent 11 countries around the world. Keith Wattley was one of those selected.
Obama fellows were recognized as leaders who are working hand-in-hand with their communities to build better futures. They understand that creating change often requires reaching out across the lines that divide us.
Keith looks back at his time at Santa Clara Law as providing him a strong foundation for his work. “The practical learning opportunities at Santa Clara Law (specifically, the criminal defense clinic and workers’ rights clinic) gave me valuable experience in taking care of real-life clients. They also exposed me to models of mentorship that I use to this day with my own students.”