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Latino Trailblazer

Jenny Martínez

  • Gender: Female
  • University: Yale University
  • University: Harvard University
  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelors
  • Post Graduate Degree: Juris Doctorate
  • Hometown: Washington, DC
  • Organization: Stanford Law School
  • Position Title: Richard E. Lang Professor and Dean
  • Organization: Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Position Title: Senior Fellow

Through her years of work in litigation and academia, Jenny Martinez has established herself as a leading expert on international courts and tribunals, international human rights, and the laws of war, as well as a scholar of constitutional and international and law. She credits her parents with nurturing a commitment to public policy throughout her Washington, DC, childhood, and says this commitment is what motivates her work today.

Jenny graduated cum laude with a BA from Yale University, and went on to study at Harvard Law School, graduating with a JD. After her convocation from Harvard, she clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in New York, and then for US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Her appointment to Justice Breyer’s staff made her the first Latina to clerk for a US Supreme Court judge.

Following her clerkships, she accepted an international opportunity, serving as Associate Legal Officer for Judge Patricia Wald of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal, for what was formerly Yugoslavia, in The Hague. Later, at the age of 32, Jenny was selected, despite being a relatively junior member of the legal team on the case, to argue in front of the US Supreme Court in the case of Rumsfeld v. Jose Padilla, which contested the power of the US government to detain its citizens, without trial, as “enemy combatants.”

After six years in litigation, she shifted into academia, joining the law faculty at Stanford University in 2003. In an interview with SFGate, she expressed what it meant to her to be able to train future lawyers and, in particular, to advise Latino students seeking to enter the legal field. "There are so few Latinos represented at the higher levels of the profession,” she said, “that it's really important to help out younger people.”

Today, Jenny serves as the Richard E. Lang Professor and Dean of Stanford Law School, where she teaches courses on constitutional law, civil procedure, international law, and international business transactions. She is the law school’s 14th dean.

In addition to her work as dean, she also holds the role of Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and serves as a faculty affiliate of both Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. In 2018, she chaired a group on diversity and inclusion, to recommend ways of strengthening the student experience at Stanford Law School.

Her affiliations include membership in the US State Department Advisory Committee on International Law, the American Society of International Law, and the American Law Institute. In 2000, Hispanic Business magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the country.