Meghan Claire Hammond: 2016 Best and Brightest
Meghan Claire Hammond
Northwestern University, Pritzker School of Law
Hometown: Elgin, Oklahoma
Undergraduate School: University of Tennessee
Undergraduate Major and Minor: International Business and Mandarin Chinese
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During Law School (Include school awards and honors):
- Editor-in-Chief, Northwestern University Law Review
- Supreme Court Clinic, Participant
- Legal Writing, Research & Teaching Assistant
- Northwestern Law Scholar’s Program (academic publishing program)
- Women’s Leadership Coalition, Symposium Co-Chair
- Wigmore Follies, Assistant Producer (student musical)
- Academic and Professional Excellence Program, Student Advisor
- Student Bar Association, Faculty Relations Committee
- Northwestern Law Democrats, Co-President
- American Constitution Society, Member
Where have you interned during law school?
- Intern, U.S. Maritime Administration, Office of the Chief Counsel, Washington, D.C.
- Judicial Extern, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, IL
- Summer Associate, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, Washington, DC
What practice area will you be specializing in after graduation? Energy Regulation, National Security, and Administrative Law
Why did you choose to attend law school? Deciding to go to law school was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, particularly because I had to leave a successful career to do so and thus, it was not only the debt I was going to take on, but the economic opportunity cost. However, I decided to apply and told myself if I got into a T14 school, I would go. Having come from a small town in Oklahoma, I knew it was the best way to put myself in a position where I would have the opportunity to help the most people.
What was your favorite law school class? My favorite law school class was Federal Jurisdiction, taught by Professor Eugene Kontorovich. It is such a unique class because while most law school classes set out rights and obligations of a particular substantive area of law, Federal Jurisdiction focuses on what these rights and obligations mean in practice, in essence how legal substance interacts with the judicial institution.
Which attorney do you most admire? My mother. Though she passed away before I really understood the work she did as an attorney, I have learned so much retroactively. She was the first in her family to attend college, and then she beat all odds and got a law degree. She graduated top in her class from the Judge Advocate General’s school and was the first woman in the history of the school to walk away with every honor the school awards except one. She then went on to raise myself and my younger siblings. I will never forget at her funeral the sheer number of people I didn’t know who came up to us with a story to tell about what my mother had done for them. Truly an astonishing, brilliant, and selfless woman.
What have you enjoyed most about law school? The people. If you’re thinking about law school or if you have just started, all I can say is to be as inclusive as possible. You will meet people with views different from your own, sometimes vehemently so, but you should listen to and understand those people with the same care and candor as someone who agrees with you. That is where you will learn the most. I guarantee it.
What word best describes your professional brand? Tenacious. If there is anything that defines me, it is my ability to achieve a goal I have set. Before I came to law school I was talking to a friend who graduated from Harvard Law and essentially told him that I was applying to law schools. I told him I was going to get in to a top school, I was going to make the Law Review, and then I was going to become the Editor-in-Chief. Now I realize just how delusional I must have sounded (and how polite he was about it) but, hey, I did it.
If you were debt free, how would you spend your first paycheck after landing your first law job? Pay for my grandmother’s nursing home costs.
“I knew I wanted to go to law school when…” I read a quote from UC-Irvine Dean Erwin Chemerinsky that said, “I continue to believe that law is the most powerful tool for social change.”
“If I didn’t go to law school, I would be…a jazz singer.”
Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? If I could point to a single thing that has been the most meaningful, it was my decision to seek out Judge Nancy Gertner to write an essay for the Law Review entitled, “Opinions I Should Have Written.” My classmates and I were incredibly moved by Judge Gertner’s Pope & John Lecture on the same topic and I reached out to her to publish it in the Review. The piece outlines how institutional pressures of the judiciary, such as managing one’s caseload by avoiding writing full opinions and the number of pending motions on one’s docket, have a real-world effect on judicial decision making. These institutional pressures cut across the political and ideological lines of the judiciary and my Board, and I are incredibly proud to be able to publish this piece.
Fun fact about yourself: Once, as part of a project, I stayed on a tugboat outside of an LNG import terminal in Shenzhen, China for several days while the crew showed me the operations and taught me how to make jiaozi (dumplings).
Favorite book: “The Passage of Power” by Robert Caro
Favorite movie: “The Little Princess” with Shirley Temple. I identified with the film a lot growing up, when my father had to go overseas for the Gulf War.
What are your hobbies? Convincing my classmates to do karaoke with me.
What made Meghan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2016?
“Meghan is one of those students who make the law school experience worthwhile for faculty, and I would have to assume, for students as well. She brings to the classroom and to its surrounding environment a natural intellect, rich schooling and knowledge, diligence, commitment to the school, a desire to help others and the institution—and an actual personality—rendering her the ideal law student and colleague.”
Associate Professor of Law
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law