Kendall Kilberger, JD/MSF, Class of 2023

Kendall Kilberger majored in mathematics at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, knowing her ultimate path would be law school. She chose Vanderbilt after learning about its unique, three-year JD/MSF program during an interview with a JD/MSF alumna. “We shared a common interest in math, and she introduced me to the JD/MSF program. It bridged my interests in math and the law, and she showed me that Vanderbilt was a great place to foster those connections,” she said.

Vanderbilt’s atmosphere was the final deciding factor. “When I visited Vanderbilt, the minute I stepped on campus it felt like home,” she recalled.

Students apply for the JD/MSF program after entering law school; Kendall applied and was accepted to the program as a 1L. Enrolling in the program meant spending the fall semester of her 3L year as a fulltime student at the Owen Graduate School of Management and dividing her final semester of law school between Finance and Law electives. “I enjoyed the contrast between my law and finance classes. In law classes, you learn together but work alone, while business school is all group work, and each week was like a marathon,” she said.

Kendall joined the staff of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law as a 2L and continued her work on the journal while during her semester as a full-time finance student at Owen. “Being on the journal taught me so much about academic writing, legal citations, and working in teams, and it allowed me to keep a toe in the law school while I took my finance classes,” she said.

Her Note, “Something Doesn’t Add Up: Solving DNA Forensic Science Statistical Fallacies in Trial Testimony,” published in the journal in spring 2023, deals with common statistical fallacies that occur when forensic DNA evidence is presented in court and recommends adopting jury instructions that highlight those fallacies and place the evidence in context. “This is an important issue, because erroneous DNA forensic science statistical testimony plays a critical role in wrongfully convicting innocent defendants,” Kendall said.

Kendall divided her extracurriculars among professional clubs and affinity and social groups. She joined the Law and Business Society and was active in the Women Law Student Association. She was president of the Ambassadors, which supports student recruitment; and mentored incoming 1Ls through the Co-Counsel Program. “Ambassadors was amazing, because I got to share my passion for VLS with admitted students and introduce them to the VLS community, which is extremely collegial, supportive, and fun. Vanderbilt has a great social atmosphere with events throughout the year,” she said.

She encourages incoming students to explore the ways in which their skills, abilities, and aptitudes dovetail with areas of the law that interest them. “Starting law school is a scary thing—you learn a totally new language. But I love problem solving, and it was great to learn how to apply my analytical skills in a new and different context,” she said.

Kendall worked as a judicial extern in the chamber of Judge John Robert Blakey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois during summer 2021 and as a summer associate at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago during summer 2022. After graduation, she will return to Kirkland & Ellis’ Chicago office as an associate in the investment funds group.