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The Gift of Opportunity
The Risë Norman Scholarship Fund provides aspiring lawyers and leaders with the means to reach their goals.
According to Risë Norman, JD '88, being a part of the Stanford Law School family is a special and rare opportunity. Her connection to the school has only deepened since graduating. From volunteering with the Stanford Law School (SLS) Board of Visitors to co-chairing her 25th class reunion, Norman stays in close contact with classmates and faculty. It was through these ties to the school that she was inspired to endow a new scholarship fund to make it possible for other students—both current and future—to gain similar life-changing experiences at SLS.
"Stanford Law School has been instrumental in giving me the opportunity to choose a career that is satisfying and fulfilling," Norman says. "I want to make sure other students have that same chance."
After completing her JD and a one-year federal appellate clerkship, Norman joined the international firm Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP in 1989. She has grown her corporate law career with that firm, focusing on capital markets transactions, and became a partner in 1998.
When she is not in the office, Norman can often be found back on campus. "I think the world of Stanford," Norman says. "It's a magnificent school filled with bright and interesting faculty and students."
Norman's commitment as a volunteer has made her an all-star contributor on the SLS Board of Visitors. She and fellow alumni board members provide input on course topics, student opportunities, and new developments in legal education.
"I feel that it's important to make sure Stanford Law School is the best it can be. As a practicing lawyer, I think that I can provide insight in terms of what might be helpful to consider when exploring potential new topics for the law school curriculum." Norman is also making that education more accessible to prospective students through the Risë Norman Scholarship Fund. Open to any incoming law student, the fund was endowed in 2011. Norman says she founded the scholarship to encourage promising students to pursue an SLS education regardless of their financial resources.
"I came from a family that put a large emphasis on education," Norman says. "My parents gave me everything that they could, but they could not afford to help pay for law school. I was fortunate to have a successful career where I was able to pay off my law school debt, and I want to help someone else pursue their dreams in turn."
Lydia Gray, JD '15, is the current recipient of the Risë Norman Scholarship Fund.
"I am a first-generation college student who grew up in a small, blue-collar town in central Pennsylvania," says Gray. "In my wildest of dreams I could never have imagined myself at Stanford Law School. I know that I am here now because of people like Risë Norman—people who have gone out of their way to help me succeed."
Gray looks forward to sharing Norman's generosity after she graduates. Following in her scholarship donor's footsteps, she is committed to paying it forward herself, one day.