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Clarifying the Shifting Sands of International Law


Clarifying the Shifting Sands of International Law

Title: Associate Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, Stanford University
Education: J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School; B.A., History, cum laude, Yale University
Age: 35

Jenny Martinez is proof of the power of role modeling and mentoring. As an undergraduate at Yale University, she says her mother, who is a public interest attorney, influenced her decision to go to law school. She also sought out advice from her mentor and former dean of Yale Law School, Judge Guido Calabresi, whom President Bill Clinton appointed to the U.S. Court of Federal Appeals in the Second District in 1994. Martinez went on to clerk for him after graduating from Harvard Law School.

Top-notch real-world experience, both as a law student and lawyer, paved the way to teaching. In addition to clerking for Calabresi, Martinez earned an internship reserved for those who truly excel at scholarship — she became a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. She then went on to tackle international criminal issues as an associate legal officer for Judge Patricia M. Wald of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There, Martinez assisted in the trials of defendants charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The world changed after Sept. 11, 2001, and there was more need than ever to understand the shifting sands of international law, the interaction of international and domestic legal institutions and the way laws are formed. Martinez practiced as an attorney at Jenner & Block, LLP in Washington, where she focused on international, constitutional and antitrust law. But her interests led her to conduct independent research on international law. As a senior research fellow at Yale, she also taught a course on international human rights and a seminar on terrorism and civil liberties.

That opportunity, Martinez says, gave her time to contemplate the broader issues of international laws, “instead of being caught up in the practice of law.”

That led to a decision to teach law full time. “I was interested in working with students, shaping them as lawyers and helping them think about the law,” she says.

Martinez joined Stanford Law School as an associate professor in 2003. She says she was attracted to Stanford because of “the emphasis on interdisciplinary scholarship and connections with scholars in other departments; the size of the school, which is small in terms of the faculty and student body; the sense of intimacy and the intellectual community.”

Martinez will have graduated from law school 10 years ago this spring, but she has packed more into her career than many have in a lifetime. Her scholarship is on the cutting edge, as she works to clarify issues making headlines in international and national policy. She’s analyzed the ramifications of international tribunals operating without any supervening sovereign authority. On the domestic front, she served as lead counsel in the 2004 Rumsfeld v. Padilla case, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The highly publicized case sought to clarify the constitutional protections available to U.S. citizens charged as “enemy combatants” and held without trial.

In addition to teaching and litigation, Martinez finds time to publish in several law reviews and periodicals. She also speaks around the world on issues involving international law and balancing human rights and security. The National Law Journal named her one of the “Top 40 Lawyers Under 40.” The Daily Recorder listed her as one of California’s “Top 20 Lawyers Under 40” and she was named to Hispanic Business Magazine’s list of “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in 2000 and 2004.

Martinez says her advice to others is to “seek out mentors and get advice from a lot of people.”

— By Dina Horwedel

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