Stanford Law School Launches Neukom Center for the Rule of Law – SLS News and Announcements

Sally and SLS Alum Bill Neukom’s giveaway includes support for an eChair and Faculty Fellows; Collaboration Center World Justice Project and the Wright Center for the Study of Computation and Just Communities in Dartmouth

Sally and Bill Neukom at the grand opening of the William H. Neukom Building at Stanford Law School

October 20, 2022 – Stanford Law School (SLS) announced the launch of the Sally B. and William H. Neukom Center for the Rule of Law, thanks to a significant donation from the Neukom family. The Center will conduct academic research and teaching, Experimental learning and collaborations across Stanford and beyond with a particular focus on rule of law issues.

William Neukom, a 1967 graduate of Stanford Law School and former general counsel at Microsoft, has a long history of financial support and leadership at the school and within the SLS alumni community. The couple’s donation includes programmatic support as well as a new endowed chair for the Center, a research fellowship for faculty and a postgraduate fellowship, as well as support for an executive director.

“The rule of law is the foundation of just and prosperous societies,” said Jenny S. Martinez, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean. “In countries where the rule of law is weak, people lack security and freedom, while societies where the rule of law is strong allow people to thrive. Lawyers are essential to strengthening and advancing the rule of law here in the United States and abroad. We couldn’t be more grateful to Sally and Bill for helping to advance the important role that SLS plays on the international stage in developing lawyers who will advance the rule of law.

The Neukom Center will build on Stanford Law’s strengths as a global platform for interdisciplinary research, elevating the topic of the rule of law on the Stanford campus and in academia. The Center will support the work of faculty and students on issues such as accessible and impartial justice; accountability of public and private actors; open, fair and effective government; and clear, stable laws protecting fundamental rights. The Center will conduct research and teaching, host public meetings, and develop strategic collaborations with colleagues on and off campus.

“Developing leaders with a clear understanding of the impact of the rule of law on justice is essential for democracy and for our world,” said Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University. “I’m so grateful to Sally and Bill for elevating this work at Stanford and enabling the kind of collaborations that will make a difference far beyond our campus.”

The new center will collaborate with other complementary programs established by Neukom, beginning with the World Justice Project (headquartered in the United States with offices around the world), an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the state of Law in the World, and the Wright Center for the Study of Computation and Just Communities in Dartmouth.

“Fundamental to a fair world, the rule of law is the very foundation of communities of justice, opportunity and peace,” Neukom said. “Stanford Law School has an important role to play on the international stage in advancing the rule of law, and Sally and I are delighted to support this effort.”

The new center will sponsor an annual research consortium, distinguished lecture series, graduate student research and policy labs. Unique among peer schools, SLS’s law and policy labs provide students with hands-on experience advising government agencies and nonprofits on cutting-edge policy issues in real time. The impact of the law school’s policy labs will be amplified by using a rule of law lens on important legal issues, including access to civil justice, criminal justice reform, and freedom of expression .

About William H. Neukom

William “Bill” Neukom is the founder and CEO of the World Justice Project, an organization dedicated to promoting the rule of law around the world. He is a retired partner in the Seattle office of international law firm K&L Gates and teaches at Stanford Law School where he teaches a rule of law seminar.

Neukom served as Microsoft’s principal attorney for nearly 25 years, managing its legal, governmental, and industry affairs, as well as its philanthropic activities. He retired from Microsoft as executive vice president of law and corporate affairs in 2002, and returned to his law firm and served as its president from 2003 to 2007. Neukom served as president of the American Bar Association (ABA) from 2007 to 2008 and was awarded the ABA Medal in 2020. He was general manager of the San Francisco Giants baseball team from 2008 to 2011. Neukom joined the board of directors of Fortinet, Inc. in 2013 and is currently its lead independent director.

At Stanford, Neukom held several advisory roles, including serving as a member of the Stanford Law School Dean’s Advisory Council. (which he chaired in 2013-14) and the Board of Trustees of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has also volunteered for several Stanford Law reunion campaigns and served on the Stanford Challenge Steering Committee and Board of Directors. The William H. Neukom Professor of Law Chair at Stanford Law School was established in 2002 and supports professors working in the areas of human rights, intellectual property rights, ethics, and legal accountability , global rule of law, antitrust and consumer protection issues. In 2011, Stanford Law School dedicated the William H. Neukom Building at Stanford Law School, named after his major gift.

Neukom is a trustee emeritus of the University of Puget Sound and Dartmouth College, where he served as chairman of the board from 2004 to 2007. He is chairman of the external advisory board for the University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative. Neukom received his AB from Dartmouth College and his LL.B. from Stanford University and holds honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, Gonzaga University, University of Puget Sound and the University of North Carolina. South.

In 1995, Neukom and his children founded the Neukom Family Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations in the fields of education, environment, health, social services and justice. He and his wife, Sally, live in Seattle and together have five children and sixteen grandchildren.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business and high technology. Faculty members appear before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal studies and empirical analysis, and regularly contribute to the national press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a model of legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, practical experience, a global perspective, and a focus on public service, leading a movement for change.

Jon J. Epps