After graduating from Stanford with degrees in Spanish and history, Justin Hulse and his wife moved to Redmond, Washington, where Justin spent a year as a programmer for Microsoft on such familiar Internet products as Hotmail, Instant Messenger, Skydrive and Explorer “plugins” — and where their first son was born. But Justin had always planned to go to law school. “I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was in high school, when I got a job at a family law clinic,” he says. As an undergraduate, Justin, who speaks fluent Spanish, volunteered in a Stanford legal clinic as a translator.
During his year with Microsoft, Justin applied to 12 law schools. Vanderbilt’s academic standing, collegial environment and its family-friendly location were all factors in his choice. “Vanderbilt is hands-down the best top-tier law school for a family,” Justin says. “The friendly atmosphere at the law school ensures you don’t bring home a lot of stress, and the academics are second to none. And the climate in Nashville is mild. We wanted to be able to take our toddler outside without worrying about his toes freezing off!”
Justin spent summer 2009 as an associate with joined Fenwick & West in Mountainview, California, and joined the firm as a litigation associate after earning his J.D. Order of the Coif in 2010. “It was nice to find out that Bill Fenwick (Class of 1967), one of the founding partners, was a Vanderbilt Law alum when I was looking for positions at firms that specialized in intellectual property law,” Justin says. At Vanderbilt, Justin pursued his interest in law and technology and litigation, taking courses in patent and intellectual property law from Professor Daniel Gervais and Third Circuit Court Judge Kent Jordan, who is a member of Vanderbilt’s adjunct law faculty. “My courses with Professor Gervais and Judge Jordan had a profound impact on me,” he recalls. He also took a course in Pretrial Litigation from Magistrate Judge Joe Brown of the U.S. Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, another member of Vanderbilt’s adjunct law faculty. “That pretrial litigation course covered 90 percent of the work I do now,” Justin says. “Many of my fellow first year associates wish they had been given the opportunity to take such a practical course.”
In addition to pursuing his interests in intellectual property law and litigation, Justin became involved in several student organizations, including the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, an organization of students who are members of the LDS church; Law Partners, a group for married students; the choral group Headnotes and the Phi Delta Phi honor society. “Vanderbilt has a rich cast of student orgs that offer enjoyable extracurricular activities and help put studies in the context of relationships,” he says. Justin was also a member of the Moot Court Board, serving as an associate justice. “I redesigned the moot court scoring system for what turned out to be an incredibly successful intramural competition in 2009-10,” he says. “The result was a more reliable and easier system to manage. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when my spreadsheet sent our two finalist teams to argue in front of a panel of federal judges, including Chief Judge Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Justin received scholarship offers from other law schools, but believes that Vanderbilt was the best decision for his legal education because of the school’s intellectual rigor, collegial environment and location. “Vanderbilt is situated in a great city, and my family and I miss Nashville’s size and pace,” he says. “Housing was much more affordable there than it would have been at other top-tier law schools, and we truly miss our neighbors.” The Hulses celebrated the birth of their second son during Justin’s second year of law school, and Justin says that spending time with his two small sons was an ideal study break. “Nashville is a great place to bring a family,” he says. “It’s really a very accessible city, and there are lots of things to do in a safe environment.”