1L Student Q&A: Rachel Marlena Stevens ’25

Rachel Marlena Stevens

Rachel Marlena Stevens was born in the Deep South but feels that she truly grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana with a BS in Religious Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality, of Harvard University with an MTS in Religions of the Americas, and, most recently, of Columbus State Community College with an AAS in Computer Science. (Her first name is a double, so please call her Rachel Marlena).

1. Why do you want to attend law school?

I think just to collect another degree! I’m kidding, of course, though I know I sound like a perpetual student. In truth, I have worked in several different fields and in analyzing both my training and my experiences, I realized that law encompassed the skills and aspects of those fields in which I thrived and excelled. Researching complex problems. crafting airtight arguments, and explaining complicated subjects in a way that engages people have always been my fortes. After winding my way through academia, those were the skills I had perfected, but also the ones I enjoyed the most.

Why did you choose UConn Law?

In a way it feels like UConn Law chose me, and I really couldn’t be happier about that! I applied to UConn because it was nearby but also had good placement rates in New England Big Law as well as federal clerkships, and I was intrigued by the Intellectual Property Law Clinic. After spending some time on campus, I realized what a hidden gem UConn Law is (is it bad that I want to keep that a secret?). I love the individualized attention and that I already know several faculty and staff members fairly well and feel comfortable contacting them about all manner of things. To me that speaks volumes about the emphasis the school places not just on training future lawyers but also on creating community. That can be difficult to do in graduate programs, particularly law schools, and though I know it isn't, everyone at UConn Law makes it look effortless.

What are you most looking forward to in this next year?

I’m thrilled about the chance to compete for spots on Mock Trial, Moot Court, and Law Review (all in due time, of course!). I actually made the inaugural Mock Trial team in High School but was not allowed to participate. I have also started to network with alumni and am looking forward to continuing that under the guidance of both Career Development and my advisor, Professor Leslie Levin.

How do you want to use your law degree?

I am fascinated by how nimble and creative the law must be when it comes to data, technology, and intellectual property litigation so as not to be rendered obsolete in a year’s time. I’ve tracked developments closely and want to clerk, then work in New England Big Law. I feel I can affect change best that way, both directly and indirectly. There is incredible work being done in the start-ups along Route 128 that have the potential to revolutionize so many aspects of society, how we live, and how we work. I want to be on the ground floor of many of those changes, even if my skills are used in less-than-revolutionary ways.

What do you do in your spare time?

Bourbon is a bit of a hobby! A friend introduced me to single barrel and bottled in bond around the 2016 elections and I'm not sure my wallet has ever forgiven him. I don't have a ton of spare time, so l spend quite a bit of it with my husband and English bulldog. My hobbies are far-ranging and eclectic, so no one is quite sure when I am joking (almost never). I am an ardent supporter of the United States Postal Service, a mild philatelic, and a stationery snob, so I send a fair amount of mail through the post. I read voraciously, and have been told I follow politics (international and domestic) the way others follow professional sports. I also love Arsenal FC and was sad to see a few of our players go over the last year.

What is your favorite lawyer movie, TV show or book?

Oddly, I’ve never sought out entertainment in my current field. To this day, I donate every bit of historical fiction I’m gifted. That said, I think "Denial," the movie version of the Irving v. Penguin Book Ltd. case, shows the United Kingdom’s Solicitor/Barrister system quite well, and the very real challenges one faces when the burden of proof is placed on the defense. I have a few more but I’m just now realizing they are European or [the cases] occurred over 100 years ago.

Though I sound contradictory, I do in fact have a favorite book: "Marcelo in the Real World." I’ve maintained for years that one reason to revisit works that resonated with us is to see how we have changed, and if we still hold the same questions, mores, beliefs, and yearnings we once did. Despite the target audience of middle and high schoolers, Marcelo in the Real World touches on so many themes, some related to law and some not. Marcelo enters the “real world,” which for many law students is often their first internship, and realizes that while his behaviors might adapt, his ethics have not. While working at his father's law firm for the summer, he comes across information that presents him with extraordinarily difficult choices. He comes to the realization, as I think we all do, that no matter what we decide there will always be loss. Standing up for what is right is costly. How much are you willing to lose to stay true to your beliefs, and how dogmatic must those beliefs be? Years after my first encounter with the book, I became close friends with the author, who practiced law in Boston for 33 years before turning to writing full time. That has made the book even more special to me, of course, but I would have given you the same answer even if I never met Francisco.