Honoring Outstanding Graduates from the Class of 2020
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Honoring Outstanding Graduates from the Class of 2020

Pictured above, the 2020 Outstanding Graduates (from left to right): Ashley E. Luo JD ’20, Genevieve C. Duran JD ’20, Dustin Weber JD ’20.

Each spring, Santa Clara Law selects three members of the graduating class for special recognition in honor of their academic achievements, service, and leadership. “We are so proud of our graduating class of 2020, and we celebrate all the accomplishments of this stellar group. We especially congratulate these three students nominated by faculty and their classmates for special honors in recognition of their dedication, service, and scholarship,” said Anna Han, interim dean of Santa Clara Law. Meet this year’s honorees below.

Ashley E. Luo JD ’20 received the Mabie Award for the Outstanding Graduate. This honor is presented annually by the Mabie Family Foundation to the graduating student who best represents in their class the type of student Santa Clara Law is most proud to graduate by reason of demonstrated qualities of scholarship, community leadership, and a sense of professional responsibility.

“There is no doubt that Ashley is a smart, talented student,” wrote Devin Kinyon, associate clinical professor, in his nomination. “She has outstanding grades, serves as a senior editor on our Law Review, and has participated in our Honors Moot Court program. She has also received many awards for top performance in her courses.” 

“She is an avid booster of Santa Clara Law and our students, including bringing two lower-classmen into Judge Freeman’s court and helping them earn judicial externships there,” added Kinyon. “She believes deeply in paying it forward, something I have proudly witnessed in her work in the Academic Success Program and across the Santa Clara Law community.”

Luo, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Political Science from Santa Clara University in 2009, worked in elementary education for eight years–teaching, doing administration, and writing curriculum–before entering law school.

She received many academic honors while in law school, including being named to the Dean’s List 2017-18, 2018-19;  Witkin Awards for Academic Excellence: Contracts II and Professional Responsibility; and CALI Excellence for the Future Awards: Civil Procedure II, Community

Property, Insurance Law, and Remedies.

She was involved in several law student organizations, including the Santa Clara Law Review, where she was associate editor, 2018-19 and senior research editor, 2019-20; a member of Honors Moot Court Internal; and a mentor in Women & Law. She also volunteered many hours of her time, including as an Academic Success Program Fellow: 2018-20, and helping with Santa Clara Law campus tours and recruiting for Law Admissions & Financial Aid.

In addition to all these activities and volunteering, Luo also interned with the Honorable Beth Labson Freeman in the Northern District of California, served in the US Attorney’s Office, and had a summer associate position at Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe. 

“My favorite class in law school was torts,” says Luo. “I loved torts because many of the cases were about people’s everyday lives. Suddenly, I started seeing torts everywhere–while driving, shopping, exercising. Plus, Professor Ochoa conducted class like a courtroom, with students arguing each side of a case. Being on-call was intimidating, but class was entertaining!”

Luo says what most surprised her about law school was the close friendships she forged. “I did not expect to become this close to my fellow students,” she says. “But I’ve made some amazing, talented friends here, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for them.”

She says she is grateful for the Santa Clara Law community. “I attended Santa Clara University as an undergraduate, and one reason I was excited to return is the University’s emphasis on community. To me, law school was every bit as stressful as it is portrayed, but I think that being part of a supportive community made a world of difference in making it manageable,” she says. “I found that, despite the inherent competitiveness of the law school system, students at Santa Clara Law were eager to help each other. And the professors and administration are constantly seeking feedback and finding new ways to improve our well-being.”

After she takes the Bar in September, Luo will practice litigation at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in the Bay Area.

Dustin Weber JD ’20 received the Dean’s Outstanding Student Leadership Award. This honor is given to the student in each graduating class who exemplifies the Santa Clara Law motto of “Lawyers Who Lead,” and has served other students, the school, and the community.

A group of fellow students was among those who nominated Weber for the award, and they pointed to Weber’s integrity, leadership, hard work, and professional responsibility as well as his writing skills, his breadth of knowledge, and his perpetual curiosity. 

“It’s because of Dustin’s contagious personality, his passion for the law, and his respect for his

colleagues and professors that makes you not only see Dustin but want to engage with him,” wrote Melissa Dague O’Connell, lecturer in law and staff attorney, Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara Law, in her nomination. “Despite the challenges of law school, Dustin is always pleasant, grounded and humble. He is a student who pursues constructive feedback, will implement change and continues to seek ways to be a better student and lawyer. Dustin’s passion for the law is inspiring. He is not just enamored by the application of law to real time issues, but he has a deep appreciation for the history of our laws and why they exist and matter to us. Finally, Dustin doesn’t just exhibit great respect for his colleagues and professors; he is widely respected by them.”

Weber received many awards while in law school including being named 2020 American Constitution Society Next Generation Leader; CALI Award Winner for Legislation and Statutory Interpretation class; American Constitution Society National Student of the Week December 16-20, 2019; and the recipient of the 2019 Berg Grant for Social Justice & Public Interest. 

Weber was involved in many law student organizations including American Constitution Society student chapter president (2019-20); Student Bar Association (SBA) ABA Student Representative (2019-20); ACLU student chapter treasurer (2019-20); and managing editor for The Advocate (2019-20). He also worked with Cut50 at the Second Chances Hackathon to develop usable datasets for federal criminal justice reform legislation; volunteered in numerous classrooms through ACS’ Constitution in the Classroom program for elementary through high school students; and volunteered for VALS Street Law program, which gives high school children the opportunity to participate in moot court.

“From a subject matter standpoint, Constitutional Law is my favorite subject,” said Weber.
“So, of the traditional Bar courses, Con Law I, Con Law II, Crim Procedure: Investigation, and Criminal Procedure: Adjudication were my favorites. From a pure enjoyment and professional development standpoint, International Law with Professor David Sloss and Criminal Law & Policy with Professor David Ball were my favorites. In those courses I was given the opportunity to write on topics about which I am deeply passionate. Additionally, these classes had the opportunity to hear, and receive feedback, from two remarkable and attentive professors.” 

“I am most thankful for the relationships I developed the past three years,” says Weber, and for the “love and support from my colleagues, friends, professors, and administrators.” 

Looking toward the future, Weber says, “I am interested in many areas of the law. This can be a blessing and a curse. I am most interested in public interest work. I find public service extremely rewarding…and if I can make a living working in an area of the law under this admittedly broad umbrella, I will be happy.”

Genevieve C. Duran JD ’20 received the John B. Bates, Jr. Dispute Resolution Award. Established in 2017 by John Bates JD ’74 and his wife, Deni, this award is given in recognition of the student’s coursework, publications, performance, and service related to the field of dispute resolution.

“I have been particularly impressed at how Genevieve has come to understand the nature of arbitration and how that nature has influenced arbitration jurisprudence,” wrote E. Gary Spitko, professor at Santa Clara Law, in his nomination letter. “Genevieve also excelled in the mock arbitration that we held in class. She volunteered to cross-examine the Claimant in the case. Her cross-examination, again demonstrating her thorough preparation, was masterful and devastating for the Claimant’s position,” he added.

“I feel supremely blessed to have been able to attend Santa Clara for law school,” says Duran. “I am grateful for amazing Bronco alums who generously donate so I could attend at a reduced cost. I am grateful for the wonderful teachers who cared, even if I did not agree with all of their positions because those classes improved my ability to synthesize arguments. I am grateful how gorgeous the Santa Clara campus is and that there is a church in the center of the campus. I am grateful at how easy it is to park and that the building is new. I am grateful for the on-campus interview process that helped me get a dream job in the litigation department at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati. Most of all, I am grateful for the friends I made there and that I got to attend 2 years of law school with my older sister.”

Duran says she also appreciated how caring the professors and staff were. “Santa Clara provides several resources to make sure that each student is emotionally stable and staying healthy. There is a real focus on well-being and each professor I encountered really cares about each student.”

After the Bar, Duran will join Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, and Rosati in Palo Alto doing commercial and securities litigation. “I enjoyed the work I did at the firm during my 2L clerkship,” she says, “and I look forward to getting the chance to work more in-depth in that area.”