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Agent of Change

Wisconsin Law Review’s newest member initially wanted to be a teacher, but she found a new way to fight for justice.

Crystal Stonewall ’19, JDx’21

In July, Crystal Stonewall ’19, JDx’21 was selected to the Wisconsin Law Review just before her second year at the UW Law School.

“I was super happy to be offered a spot on the Wisconsin Law Review,” she says. “In law school, law review is viewed as a very prestigious, competitive honor.”

The Wisconsin Law Review is a student-run journal of legal analysis and commentary that is used by professors, judges, practitioners, and others who research contemporary legal topics. The first issue was published exactly 100 years ago, in October 1920. Now, the Wisconsin Law Review publishes bimonthly, with one issue each year generally dedicated to a symposium or special topic.

“I would be able to write a legal note or comment that has the potential to be published, and that’s really cool because that has the potential to impact the legal community for years,” Stonewall says. She finds the ability of the law to have multiple interpretations and applications fascinating.

Stonewall did not initially know she wanted to pursue a law degree. She completed her undergraduate degree in elementary education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and while on campus, she participated in the Law School Admissions Council Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars Program, was a Posse Scholar, and served on the UW Student Advisory Committee to the Office of the Dean of Students. She decided to go to law school because she wanted to be “an agent of change.”

“I’m from Chicago. As a Black young woman from Chicago, I’ve witnessed poverty, food deserts, and lack of political representation,” Stonewall says. “I keep close ties to Chicago Public Schools, and I think it’s important for kids to see someone who came from the same place as them.”

Stonewall attended Chicago International Charter School Wrightwood Elementary School where she was a part of the competitive cheerleading team and also participated in band. She still returns to speak to students and volunteer at her old school. She attributes her determination and ability to thrive to her family, who made her feel capable of doing anything she set her mind to.

“I would honestly say my biggest motivator would be my family. I think they really push me to do things I find interesting,” she says. “There aren’t many Black people in law, and there aren’t many Black women, but because of my upbringing, I feel like it was doable.”

Stonewall hopes the legal field will become more diverse, with rising representation in government, among corporate in-house lawyers, and in other legal professions.

“Diversity promotes the perception of a legal and equitable legal system,” she says. “If we don’t have all voices represented, the legal system will never represent the voiceless.”

Stonewall is often the only Black woman — sometimes the only Black person — in her lectures, but she appreciates the UW’s Black Law Students Association, where she serves as co-executive director. Although she does not know what profession she would like to pursue, she hopes to combine both her passion for education and the law.

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