The Most Impressive Students At Harvard Law School

Katie Johnson and Barack ObamaWikimedia CommonsKatie Johnson served as President Obama’s personal secretary before law school.

What makes Harvard the best law
school in America?
It’s more than just its accomplished faculty, challenging curriculum, and post-grad opportunities — it’s also the unbelievably impressive students who walk the Crimson school’s halls.

Though all Harvard Law Students are notable, we’ve found the 18 most impressive students there this semester.

They’ve spearheaded major national political campaigns, written books, and founded groundbreaking startups, nonprofit organisations and small businesses.

Max Rosenberg and Rebecca Baird-Remba contributed to this piece.

Angela Antony founded her own environmental tech start-up before law school.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Cary, N.C.

Undergrad: Harvard

When Angela Antony was a senior at Harvard College, she co-founded Beanstockd Media, an environmental media and software company that encouraged green living through an interactive game.

Players could compete against each other in a virtual stock market, where each player received personal stock based on their environmental footprint. Because of Beanstockd, Antony won the MTV Young Creators' Award and the Knight Foundation News Challenge and was featured in U.S. News and World Report, Businessweek, Young Money Magazine, and PBS.

After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in psychology, she went on to finish her MBA at Harvard in 2012.

At Harvard Law, she is the school's delegate for the university-wide Graduate Council and a senior editor at the Business Law Review.

She's a classically trained soprano, was on the Harvard JV soccer and sailing teams, and speaks four languages (French, Spanish, Malayalam, and English).

Lily Axelrod is a community organiser who strives to make life easier for new immigrants.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Undergrad: Brown University

Lily Axelrod's grandmother fled the pogroms in Poland at age seven and arrived in a Chicago public school, Yiddish-speaking and near-sighted, but without glasses.

Axelrod's family's immigrant struggles inspired her to become a community organiser at an immigrants' rights non-profit organisation in Mississippi before starting at HLS. She helped immigrant families navigate social services, the immigration detention system, and voter registration. She also worked as a paralegal at an immigration law firm in Memphis, Tenn., where she translated for Spanish-speaking clients and prepared visa applications.

While studying abroad in Mexico, she served as a human rights observer and lived with Zapatista families who were threatened with forced displacement from their homes.

At Harvard, she participates in the Harvard Immigration Project's Community Training Team. She volunteers at a Boston legal clinic, helping young people whose parents brought them to the country illegally gain work permits and driver's licenses.

She also edits the Harvard Latino Review and serves on the board of Harvard Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

After graduating, she hopes to continue working with immigrants in the U.S. and to remain involved with community organising and policy advocacy.

Lara Berlin is working to end human rights abuses around the world.

Year:Fourth year of a four-year joint degree program with HLS and the Fletcher School at Tufts University (pursuing a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy).

Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Undergrad: Yale University

While studying development and human health in Kenya, Lara Berlin discovered her passion for human rights.

During her junior year at Yale, she traveled to Kenya through a study abroad program called the School for International Training. She enjoyed it so much that she went to Sierra Leone after graduation and studied conflict resolution and the barriers facing female candidates in local elections with the Search for Common Ground.

Last spring, she worked on a project for the U.S. Agency for International Development, writing primers on conflict resolution. She also spent last summer researching the impact of covert drone operations on civilians at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Civilians in Conflict.

As a student attorney, Berlin has mediated small claims cases in the Harvard Mediation Program and learned the basics of conflict negotiation with the Harvard Negotiators. And she has continued her human rights work through the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic, where she worked on a project to address the challenges facing Syrian refugees.

Alex Bradshaw worked with MTV to get young people involved in social justice.

Year: 3L

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Undergrad: Boston College

Before attending Harvard Law, Alex Bradshaw was the editor-in-chief of Act.MTV.com, a branch of MTV devoted to helping people take action on issues that are important to them. She used the popularity of MTV to connect people with nonprofits and government agencies working for social change.

Bradshaw's own cause is trying to reform the way the law handles teenage prostitutes in America. She hopes to help develop laws that would treat teenage prostitutes as children, rather than adults.

She's a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and previously worked for the Legal Aid Society of New York, where she was involved with juvenile delinquency intake and child protective permanency hearings.

Spencer Cox was a Super Hornet pilot and flight instructor in the U.S. Navy.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Paris, Tex.

Undergrad: University of Virginia

Spencer Cox was an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot in the U.S. Navy for 10 years before coming to law school. As a flight instructor, he spent most of his time teaching students how to land on aircraft carriers -- something he found extremely rewarding.

'Night carrier landings are scary no matter how much experience you have, so it was a cool feeling to take a group of new pilots and watch them become actual Naval Aviators,' Cox told BI.

Now that he's in law school, Cox is still committed to helping people. He is a member of the Harvard Defenders, where he represents low-income criminal defendants for free.

'Most of them are just ordinary people who have gotten mixed up with the criminal justice system and don't have anywhere else to turn, so it's a great chance to get our hands dirty and make a tangible difference for a real-life person,' Cox said.

Cox is an idealist and hopes to use law to change the world for the better.

'I think law can be a powerful tool so long as it's used properly,' he said. 'I want to be sure I'm making wrong things right, and not the other way around.'

David Dorfman is a former child actor and legal prodigy who was accepted to Harvard Law School at age 18.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Roseburg, Ore.

Undergrad: UCLA

David Dorfman is an actor who has played the lead in 11 films and acted in several TV shows and commercials. He appeared in his first major film at age seven and has acted in 'The Ring,' 'The Ring Two,' 'Drillbit Taylor,' 'A Wrinkle in Time,' and 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.'

But he didn't just excel at acting at a very young age. A real-life Doogie Howser, the 2L student at HLS is only 20 years old. That's because he started his undergrad career at UCLA when he was 13.

'Being an actor, I was already accustomed to working in adult environments so college wasn't a shock,' he told BI. 'All things considered, I really enjoyed my time at UCLA.'

During his undergrad years, he decided to give back through acting. He organised improv workshops in inner-city schools and put on performances for charity. When he was only 17, he graduated as valedictorian and received top honours for his thesis on Brazilian migration.

At Harvard, he works on three different legal journals -- Legislation, Sports and Entertainment Law, and National Security -- and serves in student government as a 1L representative and the president of his academic section.

Lauren Gore is a decorated Army Ranger who served in Iraq and has dedicated his life to helping others.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Undergrad: U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Lauren Gore was the executive officer -- the second in command -- of a 130-person infantry unit deployed to Iraq in the final days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Although his brigade was originally designated for combat, it ended up advising the locals in Sharqat, Iraq, on establishing a newspaper, renovating schools, funding business startups, and developing a local government.

'Consider the irony,' he wrote to Business Insider, 'serving the country on a deployment to Iraq I learned from the Iraqis that if Americans are resolved, open to learning and committed to each other, we can adapt and grow from any situation.'

Since graduating from West Point six and a half years ago, he has served as a Mortar Platoon Leader and a West Point Outreach Officer, in addition to his deployment in Iraq.

While growing up in Cleveland, he helped his mother organise clothing drives for a battered women's shelter on the city's east side, and from 2008 to 2011, he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Habitat for Humanity in Manhattan, Kan.

Jordan Grossman worked for the Obama campaign and served as special advisor in the office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Year: 3L

Hometown: Potomac, Md.

Undergrad: University of Pennsylvania

Jordan Grossman is only 27, but he has already had a successful career in politics. He worked for the 2008 Obama campaign in Iowa, and later served the Obama administration as special advisor and deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Grossman is the president of the Harvard Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society and the Harvard Law Golf Club. Previously, he was the editor of the Harvard Law and Policy Review and Harvard Journal of Law and Technology.

After school, Grossman plans to stay involved in politics and government.

Alex Harris is a published author who founded a youth-targeted non-profit to challenge low expectations of teens.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Gresham, Ore.

Undergrad: Patrick Henry College

When Harris was just a teenager in high school, he and his twin brother founded The Rebelution, a non-profit that challenges low expectations of teenagers.

During the 6.5 years that Harris ran the organisation -- managing five employees, over 50 volunteers, and conferences of more than 55,000 people -- he also co-wrote two books on his 'rebelution': Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, and Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are, which have sold almost half a million copies.

During the presidential primaries of 2008, Harris also founded a political organisation of 20,000 volunteers in support of Mike Huckabee.

Harris is considering a career in politics when he graduates.

Brian Klosterboer owns a restaurant in Uganda and is an advocate for justice in Africa.

Year: 1L

Hometown: Round Rock, Tex.

Undergrad: Centre College

During a Fulbright Fellowship in Uganda, Klosterboer co-opened Jakob's Lounge, Bar and Restaurant with Jakob Suuda, a Ugandan native whose dream was to open his own restaurant.

Klosterboer coordinated with Suuda on business operations including hiring and recruitment, staff training, product sourcing, bar management, and marketing, and designed the restaurant's website.

Before Harvard, Klosterboer also worked as a reporter in Uganda for the Daily Monitor, where he explored the relationship between the media and the Ugandan military, and reported extensively on the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill. While there, Klosterboer witnessed and analysed a raid on the Daily Monitor offices by the Ugandan Police, in which the publication was closed for 11 days.

Klosterboer, who has a working proficiency of seven languages, maintains close ties to Africa through his publication of legal analyses of African justice systems in scholarly journals.

Jeremy Kreisberg worked as a minor-league baseball broadcaster and overcame a degenerative eye disease to become a leader in the Harvard community.

Year: 3L

Hometown: Edgemont, N.Y.

Undergrad: University of Michigan

Jeremy Kreisberg has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition, but it hasn't stopped him from following his dreams and becoming involved in the Harvard Law community.

During his college years, he spent his summers as a minor-league baseball broadcaster for the St. Paul Saints and the North Shore Navigators. He also helped lead the Rivalry Against Cancer and the Westchester County Vision Walk.

Since arriving at Harvard, Kreisberg has become president of the Harvard Law School Democrats, a notes editor at the Harvard Law Review, a semi-finalist in the Upper Level Ames Moot Court Competition, and the secretary of the American Constitution Society.

He has also spent one year as a paralegal at Proskauer Rose LLP, and will spend this summer at Williams and Connolly LLP.

After earning his JD, he hopes to clerk for a federal circuit court. He wants to work in government in the long term.

'I hope to make it my life's work ensure that every American has affordable, quality health insurance,' he said.

Eric Lesser is a consultant for the HBO show 'Veep.'

Year: 3L

Hometown: Longmeadow, Mass.

Undergrad: Harvard College

Lesser, in his last year at Harvard Law, manages a tight schedule. Between regular course work and preparing for the bar exam, he also serves as a consultant for the Emmy-winning HBO show 'Veep.'

Between college and law school, Lesser was the Special Assistant to Senior Advisor David Axelrod during the first two years of the Obama Administration; he later served as the Director of Strategic Planning for the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

Lesser is also credited with creating the annual 'White House Seder,' which President Obama and his family personally attend. It's the first presidential Passover Seder in history.

Kirkland Lynch co-founded a music startup and plans to reshape the music industry.

Year: 3L

Hometown: West Philadelphia, Penn.

Undergrad: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Kirkland Lynch is passionate about music. He is the co-founder and CEO of an early stage music-startup named Hanep Indie Radio, which is currently in consideration for a number of startup accelerator programs. He's also interning in the business & legal affairs department of Sony Music Entertainment -- all while taking classes at Harvard Law School.

He wants to influence the music industry by rethinking the way artists promote and distribute their music.

Lynch has a strong work ethic -- he's been working since he was 14 -- and he attributes a lot of his drive to what he calls his dual education.

'My entire life I have been getting two educations: one from the street and one from school,' Lynch told BI. 'That's put me at an extreme advantage over the person next to me. People who just have the street education are hustlers, but don't know how to flip it into something legitimate, and people with just the school education have legitimate jobs but they don't know how to hustle so in the end they're just workers.'

Jermaine McMihelk overcame homelessness to attend Harvard Law School.

Year: 3L

Hometown: Compton, Calif.

Undergrad: Morehouse College

Jermaine McMihelk had a challenging childhood. When he was young, his father became addicted to crack and abandoned his family, leaving his mother to raise three young children on her own. As a result, his family was homeless on three separate occasions.

McMihelk used these experiences as motivation. He studied hard, and after high school he went to a community college, but excelled and soon transferred to Morehouse College.

'I wanted to follow in the footsteps of great men such as Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee and many others who have matriculated through this illustrious institution,' McMihelk told us.

McMihelk was the first person in his family to attend college, and he graduated summa cum laude. At Harvard, he represents low-income clients in landlord-tenant disputes as a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

After school, he wants to work at a corporate law firm.

Grace Nosek is a published novelist and an environmental advocate.

Year: 3L

Hometown: Haddonfield, N.J.

Undergrad: Rice University

During her sophomore year of college, Grace Nosek had to re-learn how to walk after one of her lower leg muscles died, forcing her to get a muscle transplant.

'Reeling from this irreversible change in my body and my identity, I resolved to redefine myself,' she wrote us in an email. 'I resolved to challenge myself, to try new things, and especially to try those things that frightened me.'

After a high school classmate told her women couldn't write, she put her resolution to the test. Nosek wrote and published a young adult novel called 'Ava of the Gaia' that features 'a strong female lead and an environmental twist.' She said that she is currently working on a sequel.

She also works on an MTV show called 'The Buried Life,' a reality TV show that follows four guys trying to accomplish all the goals on their list of '100 Things To Do Before You Die.' For the past year and a half, she has helped the show's creators develop media campaigns urging college students to follow their dreams.

Nosek wants to be an advocate for the environment, through both traditional legal advocacy and nontraditional creative approaches.

Before law school, she interned with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. While at Harvard, she has interned with DoJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division and volunteered with the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project. This summer, she plans to intern with the Natural Resources Defence Council in Santa Monica, Calif.

Jesse Reising developed a non-profit organisation that helps veterans get into college.

Year: 2L

Hometown: Decatur, Ill.

Undergrad: Yale University

Jesse Reising was on track to become a Marine officer when he graduated from Yale. He earned his pilot's licence and he had begun teaching himself Pashto in preparation for a stint in Afghanistan.

But then he got badly injured while playing in the Harvard-Yale football game. The injury left parts of his right arm permanently paralysed, disqualifying him from military service. When his story hit the media, he received an outpouring of national support.

'It would have felt wasteful not to harness that support for some greater good,' Reising told BI.

So he developed the Operation Opportunity Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps veterans transition from the military to college.

Shortly after graduating from Yale, Reising worked for six months in Afghanistan's Kunar Province as a civilian to support the counterinsurgency effort.

Now at Harvard Law, he has become a leader on campus. He won the David Everett Chantler Award for his 'courage, strength of character, and high moral purpose,' as well as the Chester J. Laroche Award for his 'character, academic talents, and concern for others.'

After school, he hopes to serve and represent the U.S. as a federal prosecutor.

Matt Wyble spent a year training for the Olympic modern pentathlon trials, and was ranked 7th in the country.

Year: Third year of Harvard's four-year joint JD/MBA program.

Hometown: Wallace, Mich.

Undergrad: University of Michigan

From September 2010 to September 2011 Matt Wyble could be found in Colorado Springs training for the modern pentathlon, which requires athletes to master running, swimming, fencing, pistol-shooting, and horsemanship.

And while Wyble ultimately didn't make the Olympic team, he was ranked number seven in the country -- an impressive feat in its own right.

It wasn't the first physical challenge Wyble had put himself through, either: When he was 19, he and a friend ran 3,300 miles across the country to raise money for the organisation Water for Children Africa. It took them just over three months, running about 35 miles a day.

In his joint program, Wyble teaches economics to Harvard undergrads and also serves as an undergraduate proctor -- a mentor and coach. Wyble worked at Blizzard Entertainment last summer, and tells us that he hopes to go into video game strategy and design when he graduates.

Harvard ranked #1 on our list of the best law schools. See which other schools made the list.

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