Joline Desruisseaux ’20

Joline Desruisseaux applied to nine law schools and was offered full scholarships to three. Then she visited Vanderbilt. “I immediately felt that Vanderbilt Law was the right fit for me, and I knew my time at Vanderbilt would be worth the investment I was going to make,” she said.

Joline minored in French, which she speaks fluently, at the University of Florida. “I was initially attracted to Vanderbilt’s International law program. I was excited about using my language skills with my legal career,” she said. She took Public International Law with Professor Ingrid Wuerth, a noted foreign affairs expert, and International Trade Law from Professor Timothy Meyer, an expert in cross-border trade regulation.

She had also majored in history and criminology and hopes at some point in her career to work in criminal law, an interest she confirmed as a 2L by taking Criminal Procedure from Professor Christopher Slobogin. “Professor Slobogin’s class definitely shifted my interests,” she said. “I admired his unique teaching style and quickly realized I had a true passion for criminal law. After his class, I signed up to extern at the Nashville District Attorney’s Office and then participated in the criminal Defense Clinic as a 3L.” Her paper, “Nurturing Poisonous Trees: How the ‘New & Distinct Crime’ Exception Destroys the Essence of Exclusion,” written as an independent study project supervised by Professor Slobogin, will be published in the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law in October 2020.

As a 2L, Joline and her partner, Braden Morell, were finalists in the law school’s Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court Competition and for Best Brief. “Getting to the final round was my best experience at Vanderbilt,” she said. “It strengthened my confidence and confirmed for me that the courtroom is where I want to be in my career. I also learned great substantive law about a complex constitutional issue.

Joline applied to Vanderbilt because of its strong clerkship program, and after Moot Court, she recalls, “I started taking my clerkship search more seriously. The process of applying for a clerkship is inherently stressful, but Professor (Michael) Bressman was quick to respond to emails, provided detailed materials on the hiring process, looked over my resume, and suggested judges I should apply to based on what he knew about me as an applicant.” She will clerk for Judge William H. Alsup on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2022-23.

Joline touts the classroom experience as a major advantage of her legal education at Vanderbilt. “I was learning from the best and brightest in the field and surrounded by sharp minds. Although the Socratic method got tough, I admired faculty who were passionate about the subject matter,” she said. “If I had to sum up my experience in a VLS class, it would be ‘surrounded by greatness.’ Students weren’t afraid to respectfully speak their minds and offer opinion on controversial topics.”

Joline secured a Keith Wetmore Fellowship, which included a scholarship and work as a summer associate, with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco and is joining the firm’s complex litigation practice this year. “There were only nine spots and more than 800 applicants,” she said. “It was a complete blessing.”

She also encourages students to join student organizations. “Participating in the Black Law Student Association as the Academic Excellence Chair was an incredible experience,” she said. “My parents are from Haiti and did not finish college and none of my siblings went to law school. I knew how stressful things felt as a 1L, so in that position, I made it my mission to make incoming 1Ls feel encouraged, supported and capable.”

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