The 21 Most Impressive Students At Harvard Law School Right Now

Emma Freeman Ames Moot Court CompetitionFinalist Emma Freeman argues in Harvard Law’s Ames Moot Court Competition

Photo: Phil Farnsworth/Harvard Gazette

As one of the most selective law schools in the country, Harvard Law School searches for truly remarkable students to fill its halls.The country’s second-oldest law school accepts just 11 per cent of its applicants, but an incredible 92 per cent of its grads are employed soon after they graduate.

Countless Supreme Court justices, federal judges, politicians, and business leaders have degrees from Harvard Law.

But what makes the school so celebrated is the quality of its students.

It takes more than just high grades and impressive extracurricular activities to get into this elite school. To stand out among such a distinguished group, students need groundbreaking achievements and unique stories.

Here are the 21 most impressive students at Harvard Law School right now.

Angela Antony founded her own environmental tech startup before law school.

Age: 26

Year: 1L

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.

During her undergrad years at Harvard, she co-founded the Harvard Presidents Forum, an association of all the Harvard student associations, and was on the executive board of the Leadership Institute at Harvard College.

After that, she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology and finished her MBA at Harvard Business 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.

And she has hobbies outside of business and law: 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.

Age: 25

Year: 1L

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Undergrad: Brown University

Lily Axelrod's grandmother fled the pogroms in Poland at age 7 and arrived in a Chicago public school, Yiddish-speaking and near-sighted without glasses.

Her family's immigrant struggle inspired her to become a community organiser at an immigrants' rights nonprofit organisation in Mississippi before starting at HLS. She helped immigrant families navigate social services, the immigration detention system, and voter registration. She also did paralegal work 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.

Age: 27

Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Year: Third 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).

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 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 centre 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.

Age: 28

Year: 2L

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.

Age: 'Significantly older than my classmates'

Year: 1L

Hometown: Paris, Texas

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.'

Stephanie Davidson is working to protect the rights of domestic violence victims.

Age: 27

Year: 3L

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Mich.

Undergrad: Columbia University

Stephanie Davidson began helping domestic violence victims during her undergrad years at Columbia, when she offered counseling and aid to rape victims.

Before law school, she spent two years as an investigative analyst for the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. She worked with prosecutors on rape trials and got to know many victims closely, cementing her desire to work with victims of sex crimes and domestic abuse.

At Harvard Law, Davidson has established herself as one of the most prominent women's rights advocates on campus. She has been the full attorney on trials for six domestic violence survivors as a student lawyer at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

'I have gotten multi-year restraining orders, completed divorces from terrifying men who had beaten and raped their wives for decades in some situations,' she said. 'Several of my cases have also involved child abuse, and securing full custody for the safe parent is a feeling of relief unlike anything I've ever felt.'

Davidson is also the president of the Harvard Women's Law Association, an office she uses to mentor younger women at HLS and to bring female Supreme Court justices, litigators, and activists to campus. After she graduates, she plans to continue providing civil legal services to domestic violence survivors, most likely in New York City.

Ruchi Desai is a marathon runner who teaches a copyright law course to her fellow students.

Age: 26

Year: 3L

Hometown: Orange County, Calif.

Undergrad: University of Pennsylvania

Ruchi Desai is an expert negotiator who knows how to get what she wants.

During her first year of law school, she won the 2011 Williston Negotiation Competition. Since then, she's gone on to become the managing editor of the Negotiation Law Review. She's also the co-president of the Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law and the co-director of the Lincoln's Inn Society, Harvard Law School's oldest social organisation.

Desai specialises in IP and copyright law. In fact, she teaches it to other law students as a teaching fellow in an experimental copyright course.

Last spring, she ran the Boston Marathon, securing a spot by raising over $5,000 for a local youth program called Summer Search.

After Harvard, she plans to earn a Masters in Law (LLM) at the London School of Economics, focusing on the intellectual property curriculum.

Eventually, she wants to focus on intellectual property litigation as well as transactional music and entertainment work. She also hopes to be able to teach courses at a local university on the practical application of IP law.

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

Age: 19

Year: 1L

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 7 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 first-year student at HLS is only 19 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 Law, 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.

Emma Freeman is a champion for civil and reproductive rights who has already argued before a retired Supreme Court justice.

Age: 25

Year: 3L

Hometown: Northampton, Mass.

Undergrad: Yale University

Emma Freeman is a women's rights advocate who dreams of arguing a women's rights case in front of the Supreme Court.

As a senior at Yale, she wrote her thesis on Planned Parenthood and its relationship to important Supreme Court cases on the right to contraception.

She also clerked at Planned Parenthood, where she wrote an article about abortion litigation. At the Massachusetts ACLU, she wrote memos on the civil rights of detained or arrested pregnant women.

In her volunteer work, she has represented criminal defendants as a student attorney in the Harvard Law School Defenders, and she helped victims of domestic violence at the Gender Violence, Law, and Social Justice Clinic.

Last November, she made it to the final round of the prestigious Ames Moot Court Competition, where she won the award for Best Oralist and got to argue before retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

After finishing her JD, she plans on clerking for two Boston judges and then applying to civil rights litigation fellowships in the Northeast.

One day, she hopes to become a lawyer at Planned Parenthood or the ACLU, where she'll be able to fight court battles for reproductive rights.

Haben Girma is a deafblind student who won an award from the White House for her work on behalf of people with disabilities.

Age: 24

Year: 3L

Hometown: Oakland, Calif.

Undergrad: Lewis and Clark College

Haben Girma is a disability rights advocate with a focus on access to education. She has given speeches at conferences around the country educating students about their rights and encouraging special education professionals and parents to set high standards for students with disabilities.

The Skadden Foundation recently selected her for one of its prestigious fellowships, through which she will spend the next two years at Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley, Calif. She will work to improve access to instructional materials at colleges and universities for students with disabilities.

The White House has also selected her for a Champions of Change Award.

She is deafblind and has said that she wants to be a role model for other deafblind people.

'The sad fact is that besides Helen Keller, there are very few deafblind role models,' Girma told BI. 'I created my website a while back to help inspire Americans with disabilities and their supporters so that they, too, can be role models for others.'

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

Age: 27

Year: 1L

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 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.

Age: 27

Year: 2L

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.

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

Age: 25

Year: 2L

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.

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

Age: 26

Year: 2L

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.

Age: 25

Year: 2L

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 Law, 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.

Neil Rao is a marathon runner who hopes to reform health care in America and abroad.

Age: 26

Year: 3L

Hometown: Novi, Mich.

Undergrad: University of Michigan

Neil Rao wants to reform the health care industry.

He previously worked for McKinsey & Company, consulting on health care issues, and he continues to consult for health care clients while studying at Harvard Law. He's also a research assistant to professor Lawrence Summers, writing for The Commission on Investing in Health.

He is a board member of The Telluride Association, a nonprofit with a focus on higher education. He has also volunteered at a juvenile prison in Michigan.

When Rao is not working, he's probably running. In January 2012 he started running marathons and has completed three since. He will compete in both the Boston and New York City marathons this year.

He plans to continue to work for McKinsey after graduation.

Jesse Reising developed a nonprofit organisation that helps veterans get into college.

Age: 23

Year: 1L

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 nonprofit 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.

Jordan Roberts gives aspiring entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed.

Age: 25

Year: 3L

Hometown: Tuscon, Ariz.

Undergrad: Washington University in St. Louis

Jordan Roberts wants to empower aspiring entrepreneurs.

He helped develop the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project, a student organisation that provides free legal research and analysis to student entrepreneurs at Harvard and MIT. Under his leadership, the organisation grew to include 100 law student members, 10 startup clients each semester, and three partner law firms.

He has done personal research in India and Australia on how investment, IP, and cultural laws and policies can spur innovation and entrepreneurship. He is also a co-organiser of Hack IP Challenge, an event that introduces students to an intellectual property issue facing Harvard.

In the short term, he hopes to advise cutting-edge technology and life science startups on legal and business issues. In the long term, he wants to harness technology to break the perceived limits in personalised medicine, space exploration, and information dissemination.

Rachna Shah is a former teacher who wants to give everyone access to quality education.

Age: 27

Year: 3L

Hometown: Summersville, W.V.

Undergrad: Duke University

Rachna Shah wants to make high-quality education available to everyone.

Prior to attending Harvard Law, she taught students in Harlem's Frederick Douglass Academy as a member of Teach for America. She started her own tutoring company, Vanguard Academic Consulting, to help pay for law school, and she is currently working on her own nonprofit, centre for Equality in Higher Education, which addresses the disadvantage in higher education admissions for underprivileged applicants.

Shah has also been a leader on campus: She previously served as the vice president of the student body at Harvard Law School, and was the co-president of the South Asian Law Students Association.

She serves on the board of her twin sister's nonprofit organisation, Shots for Shots, which focuses on delivering vaccinations to children under the age of five in the developing world.

After graduation, she plans to work on her consulting group and non-profit.

Correction: A previously published version of this article reported that Shah was current vice president of the student body at Harvard Law. She's no longer serving in that position. The error has been corrected.

Tim Visser helps the poor and underprivileged through education and legal aid.

Age: 28

Year: 3L

Hometown: Roosevelt Island, N.Y.

Undergrad: Amherst College

Tim Visser is committed to helping the poor and underprivileged -- and he believes that one of the best ways to do that is through education.

Before law school, he taught 5th grade science as a Teach For America teacher in Miami's Little Haiti neighbourhood. He closed the achievement gap between his students and the highest performing ones in the state by over 60 per cent and was nominated for a Teach for America prize.

He continued working with TFA, becoming a recruitment director in New York and director of operations for TFA's Atlanta institute. During his time in Atlanta, he became the lead administrator of a summer school for elementary students, supervising over 200 second, third and fifth graders.

He also helps this underprivileged population legally. Last year, he was the president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where he supervised up to 50 student attorneys who managed civil cases from start to finish. During that time, he argued a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Court; in Fannie Mae v. Hendricks, Visser defended the rights of someone whose home had been foreclosed on before he was evicted.

Visser also serves on the board of Hope On A String, a grassroots community organisation in Haiti that organizes music and English classes in a town outside of Port-au-Prince.

After finishing his J.D., he would eventually like to work in state or local government.

Now meet some impressive undergrads.

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