Georgetown Law Hosts 2017 Family Weekend

September 12, 2017

Georgetown Law Professor Shon Hopwood speaks in Hart Auditorium at Georgetown Law's Family Weekend on Friday, September 8.

Georgetown Law’s first-year J.D. class is among the best and the brightest ever seen on our campus — with a 3.79 grade point average, the highest ever. The class also has a strong commitment to public service, with experience in teaching, the Peace Corps, the military and more.

So it was fitting that attendees of Georgetown Law’s 2017 Family Weekend — more than 650 family members of current students, coming from 41 states and 15 foreign countries — would hear from members of the Law Center community who have dedicated their lives to serving others.

Georgetown Law Professor Shon Hopwood — formerly a fellow in Georgetown Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic from 2015-2017 — told guests on Friday night how their students would thrive with the opportunities available to them in Washington, D.C. and at Georgetown. “Your son or daughter is going to get an amazing experience, because we have everything,” he said. “This is the best place to be if you want to litigate a case, because even if you are not an expert, there are faculty members that are experts in every area of law.”

Hopwood’s own commitment to prison reform, however, did not begin with three years at Georgetown Law. In perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping and compelling addresses ever heard at a Family Weekend, Hopwood described his journey in the law — first as an inmate in federal prison, getting two cert petitions granted by the U.S. Supreme Court as a self-taught litigant, and then as an official law student at the University of Washington through a Gates Public Service Law Scholarship. “Many of my classmates are complaining about having to do the reading, and I’m thinking, I’m in law school!” Hopwood recalled. “The reading I can handle; I’m not worried about someone sharpening a toothbrush and coming after me. Perspective helps.”

With each good fortune — he later clerked for a federal judge — Hopwood’s story gained traction in the national media, and the family members of young men in prison would reach out to him for help. “I often talk about how the primary people who commit crimes in this country are young men ages 18 to 25, in part because our brains take much longer to develop…” Hopwood said. “This is a big issue, and it did bring a lot of people hope, [my] story.”

Exciting futures

Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.)(L’88), who spoke on Saturday morning, took a more conventional path to law school — though he charted his own course afterwards by founding companies as an entrepreneur and making a run for Congress to serve the public. Delaney announced last month his intent to run for president of the United States in 2020.

“The best thing that happened to me is coming to this law school…” said Delaney, who met his wife, April McClain-Delaney (L’89) here. “Washington, D.C. [has] got some challenges, but it’s very exciting, and I look forward to following some of your careers as you go forth and really change the world.”

Attendees received a warm welcome to Georgetown Law from Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt, Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, Vice Dean Jane Aiken, Dean of Students Mitch Bailin and Parents Leadership Council Co-Chairs Sherry and David Kahn (P’17, P’20). Current and former students Angell Darvalics (L’20), K’Sean Henderson (L’18), Christopher Herr (L’19) and Jenadee Nanini (L’17) lent their perspectives.

Professors David Vladeck, Mike Gottesman, and Marty Lederman, along with Dori Bernstein and Irv Gornstein of Georgetown Law’s Supreme Court Institute, lent their time and skills to a mock moot court.

“You may not know what law school is like,” Treanor told families at the start of the weekend. “It’s an extraordinary experience, but it’s also a challenging time. We want to give you a sense of what law school is like…and we want to inspire you.”