Street Law Student Alum Patrick Campbell (C’92): Standing on Others’ Shoulders

June 25, 2018

Patrick Campbell (C’92) never attended Georgetown Law, but his experience being taught by Georgetown Law students as a D.C. high school student in the Street Law program paved the way for his future success as a lawyer. (King Creative Studios)

As Patrick Campbell (C’92) tells the story, he was in an intense negotiation session in California when he glanced at his phone and did something uncharacteristic for a seasoned attorney. He let out “a noticeable shout,” Campbell recounted with a laugh, “in front of my clients.”

A colleague had sent him an important text, but it had nothing to do with the case at hand. Rather, the message informed Campbell (C’92) that the underdog, under-resourced high school team he was coaching through the D.C. Street Law program had just won its mock trial.

“It was almost like a movie,” said Campbell, with audible pride in his voice. “A team that was counted out beat the more refined, articulate team based on hard work and digging deep and finding their souls.”

Campbell — a native of Kingston, Jamaica, a Georgetown University alum and a 1995 graduate of Stanford Law — is now a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Paul, Weiss, specializing in corporate law. He sees a lot of himself in the students from Anacostia High School, where Campbell and his colleagues clock significant volunteer hours throughout the year.

He is proud to call himself a D.C. Street Law alumnus, “a poster child” for the program whose board he has now served on for more than 20 years. And though he didn’t attend Georgetown Law, Campbell’s commitment to Street Law stems from those who did.

After breaking his leg in high school, Campbell couldn’t do ROTC and ended up in the Coolidge High Street Law class, taught by two law students in Georgetown Law’s Street Law clinic: Grace Kim and Dora Kaufman (L’88). It was the first time anyone had ever told Campbell that he had rights: as an individual; as a tenant with his family; as a consumer.

For a shy, non-athletic boy from an immigrant family, it was life altering.

“It was empowering, learning law and understanding things that before you didn’t know,” he said. Campbell enjoyed the experience so much that he began volunteering with Street Law as soon as he entered Georgetown University.

That has turned into a lifelong commitment, one rooted in his belief that he must pay forward the assistance and support he received as a young man.

“I remember people coming to my high school who impressed and inspired me,” he said. “I try to be that for the next young person, to stand before them as a model of success to help them dream big, as well. I stand on the shoulders of others and want to be shoulders for others to stand on, too.”

Campbell volunteers at Anacostia as often as possible when not traveling. In the summers, he and his colleagues help students write college statements and prepare for job interviews.

“There is just a flood of emails when [Patrick] asks for help,” said Arpine Sardaryan, an associate at Paul, Weiss who coordinates the firm’s engagement with Street Law. “Patrick is one of the reasons I came here. He showed such a strong commitment to pro bono.”

Campbell, who also chairs the board of Live It Learn It, an educational nonprofit in D.C., marvels at the way students “transform” through the Street Law program.

“We walk into a classroom with kids who seem uninterested, withdrawn, who almost treat us with hostility,” he said. “But fast forward and those kids are playing the role of lawyer to a T, really caring about how well they do. It’s night and day, and I’ve always loved to watch that process unfold.”