ASU Law in D.C.

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The Ambassador Barbara Barrett & Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center is a grand, new location that enriches the opportunities for legal learning. For four decades, students and graduates of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law have held externships, judicial clerkships, and jobs in the nation’s capital. Whether they are retired Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor (JD ’74), who served as Justice O’Connor’s first clerk on the Supreme Court of the United States in 1981, or our current class of students in the International Rule of Law and Security program, they are becoming better legal leaders through experiences and connections that only Washington can provide.

Justice O'Connor with Justice McGregor

Justice O’Connor with Justice McGregor: Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rose, Justice Ruth McGregor and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at an ASU Law event shortly after Justice O’Connor retired from the bench.

Students at State Department

Students spending time at the U.S. Department of State.

When ASU Law was founded 50 years ago, Dean Willard Pedrick approached an antitrust attorney at the Department of Justice, Jonathan Rose, and asked him to teach at a new law school in Arizona. This relationship deepened the exchange between Arizona’s legal community and the nation’s capital. Ever since, there has been a constant stream of ASU Law faculty, students, and graduates coming to Capitol Hill to work, learn, and testify. In turn, senators and congressmen, judges and attorneys, those in public service and the private sector, have brought their perspectives and experiences back to ASU Law in Arizona as professors, lecturers, and mentors.

The International Rule of Law and Security program was permanently established in Washington, D.C., in 2016 to immerse students in issues of national security and protecting the rule of law globally. ASU Law is proud to partner with the McCain Institute for International Leadership and New America to give students access to government officials, lawyers specializing in government work, international development officials, and others who make and influence policy. The IRLS program offers a comprehensive curriculum that is taught by experienced and decorated faculty, as well as externships tailored to students’ long-term goals.

ASU Law’s DC Externship Program brings second- and third-year law students to Washington, D.C., to seek legal experience with a federal agency or nonprofit organization. This program helps students acquire expertise in legal areas important to their future careers, develop an informed insider perspective on policy developments on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies, and foster relationships that are invaluable assets to new attorneys when they enter a legal practice anywhere in the world. ASU Law’s Center for Law, Science and Innovation has a standing externship with the U.S. Patent Office for students interested in patent law and intellectual property.

Kaitlyn at State Department
Students at Decision Theater
Clint and students in class at the McCain Institute
Jack Goldsmith teaching

The Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center will serve as the home base to ASU Law students, faculty, and staff whether they are based in Washington or spending time in the area. For instance, our Indian Legal Program’s traveling classroom brings students to Capitol Hill and federal agencies to testify and witness policy in action. This central location, a block from the World Bank and down the street from the White House, puts students at the heart of influence and political activity. When ASU Law moved into the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix, students instantly reaped the benefits of being walking distance from the area’s biggest law firms, the courts, and the center of state government. Now, they have that opportunity in our nation’s capital.

ILP in DC 2017
ILP in DC 2008

The Ambassador Barbara Barrett & Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center is more than a building to ASU Law. It bears the names of two of the great luminaries in our school and state’s history. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor broke social barriers by becoming the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. During her time on the bench, she showed the knowledge and wisdom that comes from serving in all three branches of government; in the executive branch as the assistant attorney general of Arizona, the judicial branch as a judge in the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals, and in the legislative branch as the majority leader of the Arizona Senate. It was when Justice O’Connor was a state senator that an ASU student named Barbara McConnell was serving as an intern and worked to introduce transportation legislation. The connection made during that time would go on to become a lifelong friendship and basis for Barbara Barrett’s brilliant legal career in transportation both on the ground and in space, international law, and national policy. Barbara Barrett graduated from Arizona State University with her bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees. She would take her experience and education to become U.S. ambassador to Finland, chair of the Aerospace Corporation, CEO of the Triple Creek Ranch luxury resort, adviser to four presidents on trade policy, and the first woman to land an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier. Much like the mentorship built between Justice O’Connor and Ambassador Barrett, the Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center is a landmark to the opportunities ASU Law students have in Washington, D.C.

Justice O'Connor swearing in Barbara Barrett

Justice O’Connor swearing in Barbara Barrett: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor swears in Barbara Barrett as the U.S. Ambassador to Finland in 2008 in the Great Hall at ASU Law.

Justice O'Connor with Barbara Barrett at O'Connor Justice Prize event

Justice O’Connor with Barbara Barrett at OJP: Ambassador Barbara Barrett helped establish the O’Connor Justice Prize with Justice O’Connor that honors those who have worked to defend the rule of law and an independent judiciary.