Stevie Newton's dreams of a life as an attorney don't involve big law firms, a corner office, or an excess of money. In fact, they don't even involve much time spent in the United States.
Newton, who graduates from Pepperdine Law School May 18, has her sights set on international horizons – on work that involves citizens of third world countries.
The native of Canada – Winnipeg, Manitoba, to be exact – moved to northern California at 9 after her father accepted a job transfer. Newton attended UCSB as an undergraduate, and completed a double major in French and law and society.
"My work in studying law and society is what really inspired me to come to law school," said the now 24-year-old. Her interest stemmed primarily from what she learned about international law.
When Newton began applying to law schools, Pepperdine quickly became her first choice.
"The Global Justice Program really caught my attention," she said.
Newton completed her first year at Pepperdine in May 2010, and immediately prepared for a summer internship in Uganda where she worked under The Honorable Justice Kiryabwire. In part, her duties involved placing cases on digital files for easy access for local researchers.
During her second year of law school, Newton took on the role of research assistant to Jay Milbrandt, director of Pepperdine's Global Justice Program. Her stint as assistant involved coauthoring an article arguing the need for an initiative, similar to that of the WWI era Nansen Passport, to award temporary citizenship to refugees of Burma. The article was published in the Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law earlier this year.She also coauthored a second article arguing that the actions of the Burma military against the Karen people are equivalent to genocide.
In the summer of 2011, Newton attended an international human rights law program in San Jose, Costa Rica. She's also held positions as an extern with the Ninth Circuit, Court of Appeals in the chambers of Judge Harry Pregerson, and in the East Los Angeles office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles for senior attorney Elena Ackel, where she worked to secure government benefits for low-income clients, and to aid clients who had been victims of for-profit trade schools.
"Stevie is a great example of a student who made the most of her Pepperdine experience," Milbrandt said. "Drawn to international service, she worked with the Global Justice Program in the Ugandan Judiciary and along the Thai-Burma border, and made international law her area of expertise. Still, she blended a globally-minded education with traditional legal experience ranging from Law Review to clerking for a federal judge. Stevie is a student that makes a school like Pepperdine proud."
Today, as Newton prepares for commencement and the bar exam, she eagerly anticipates what the future has to hold.
"I think the best part of law school is being able to see firsthand what can be done as an attorney," she said. "To see the power an attorney has to make a difference."