Like many young lawyers, Adam Stevenson is driven to make a difference in the law. Some will follow a path to the courtroom, others will distinguish themselves through research or writing.
This Plover native plans to make his mark on the law by being a better teacher. As deputy director of the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Frank Remington Center, Stevenson oversees the law-in-action program, which includes clinical projects dedicated to teaching, service and research.
It’s an ambitious agenda for a center that, a mere six years ago, had counted Stevenson as a student.
“It’s becoming less obvious as I get older,” Stevenson said, “but I’ve been able to connect with the students by saying, ‘I was you not so long ago.’”
Stevenson, at 31, is quite young in an area of the law more often associated with gray hair and a lengthy list of legal decisions.
“There are a handful of younger directors like myself in the country,” Stevenson said. “But I cannot imagine a better role than helping empower our students and giving them perspective on the law.”
Stevenson’s track record is impressive. He’s been in charge since 2010 of the school’s Oxford Federal Project, which lets him supervise students assisting inmates at medium-security institutions.
Three years ago, he started the Federal Appeals Project to give students a chance to learn about all aspects of an appeal.
Because of a student’s work in another program, a Milwaukee man facing 14 more years in prison on a non-violent drug conviction was freed in September when his sentence was commuted by President Obama.
“My students are my clients,” said Stevenson. “I want to give them the greatest foundation possible for their future practice.”
Last year, Stevenson had been spending a lot of time rebuilding his life after breaking a hip in a winter-bicycling accident. An Iron Man Wisconsin competitor, he says the law is like sports in that it requires discipline, planning and practice.
And if that practice ever results in one of his students’ arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, isn’t there a part of the lawyer-turned-teacher who would want to step in and take over the case?
“Not for a moment,” said Stevenson. “Not for a moment.”