Profiles: Stephanie O’Dowd


Stephanie O’Dowd

JD 17

Tell me something special or interesting about your background before you went to law school?

I received my undergraduate degree from San Jose State and then took two years off before starting law school. The time off helped me prepare for law school and also gave me real life working experience. This time solidified me wanting to be a Public Defender. I wanted to help people better their lives and not just support the dreams of whomever I was working for.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I decided to attend law school because I wanted to be a public defender and help people during a difficult time in their lives. I choose Golden Gate because it is in a large city that is surrounded by a diverse community.

Tell me something special or interesting about your law school experience.

During law school I had the opportunity to TA for Criminal Law and Legal Analysis. I was able to use my experience in and out of law school to mentor other students during the early stages of their law school career. Although I never saw my law school career taking this direction, I am very proud of being able to help other students and watch them develop as passionate advocates.

What is your greatest source of motivation/support as you work towards your JD?

So much of my support comes from my fiancé Jeff. He isn’t in the legal field so he listens and tries to understand this world. My mom is an attorney so she understands what law school entails and what I deal with on a daily basis, she provides me with a lot of support and motivation to keep going. Henry, my pug, is my biggest supporter and gives me comfort when law school gets difficult.

What is your favorite thing you do when you are not at law school?

School and work take up most of my time. When I do have free time, I enjoy exercising, specifically spinning, there is a euphoria that follows a Soul Cycle class. I love taking Henry on long walks or to the dog park. I also support my fiancé’s food writing career by getting out to as many new restaurants in the bay area.

What message/advice do you have for your fellow law students?

Don’t hold back on asking for help during law school. Don’t let your fear or pride get in the way of you seeking help before it is too late. During law school make sure you focus on finding and cultivating real friendships, not just friendships that will gain you an academic advantage. Law school can be difficult so you need friends who will listen, support you and make you laugh thru those difficult times. You want to make friends who also understand the difficulties of this profession and will be your champion no matter what.

If not in law school right now, what would you be doing?

My background is in political science so I would be involved in local politics.