Making the dream of law school a reality

Sophie Crispin Sophie Crispin could have gone to any of a number of law schools. The Ohio native looked at several in the Big Ten, but the UW offered her a scholarship. That clinched the deal.

Now in her third year, Crispin has benefited from the Stearns-Shaw Scholarship, which was made possible by Denis Stearns JD’92 and his husband, Thomas Shaw. The scholarship goes to a student with a record of activities that advance LGBT issues and who is likely to use his or her education to further that work.

As an undergraduate, Crispin helped to organize and coordinate coming-out days, pride weeks, and a campus safe-zone program for LGBT students.

“Going to law school was my dream,” Crispin says. “Having the scholarship [gave me] the freedom to take this dream and make it look like whatever I want it to look like.”

Crispin pursued her dream, aiming to become a public-interest lawyer. With a passion for addressing unmet needs, she worked in UW Law School’s Neighborhood Law Clinic for a year, learning about a broad range of legal and advocacy services for people involved in landlord-tenant, public-benefits, and wage-and-hour disputes. She also served on the executive board of Q-Law, a student organization dedicated to LGBT issues, and is active in the school’s Pro Bono Program.

Crispin is well aware that it was UW Law School’s friends and donors who made her experience possible.

“When generous benefactors like Mr. Stearns want to contribute to students they’ve never met — either because they’re so passionate about their work or because they loved their law school experience so much — that’s really powerful,” says Crispin.

And that’s what keeps moving UW Law School — and Wisconsin — forward.