Student Leader Spotlight: Five Questions

March 2, 2009Duke Law News

1. Where are you from?
I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia, but have lived in North Carolina for most of the last 10 years. I first came to North Carolina to attend Wake Forest I'm a huge ACC basketball and football fan and will watch just about any ACC game that's on televison. My husband and I spend many of our Saturdays in the fall traveling to watch our alma mater play football.

2. What brought you to law school and what do you want to do with your degree?
While working as a reporter, I covered some people who were amazingly committed to their work. I saw underpaid public defenders zealously represent their clients in court, profiled a former CEO who sold his company and became a passionate advocate for green development, and heard community organizers speak out for the needs of their neighbors. I eventually realized that rather than sitting on the sidelines, observing and reporting, I wanted to be able to do what these people did, to directly advocate for the things I cared about. I saw a legal career as the best means of doing that.

I'm particularly interested in civil rights and First Amendment law and hope to practice in one of these areas. I'm splitting my 2L summer between the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and a New York law firm known in part for its media law work.

3. When you are not at the Law School, how do you like to spend your time?
When the whether is nice (which it almost always is here) I like to go hiking. There are some easy trails in nearby Eno River State Park and some really great hikes a few hours west of Durham, towards the mountains. Durham Bulls baseball games are another favorite warm weather activity.

I've also become a bit of a bluegrass fan since moving to North Carolina, so I try to catch local shows when I can. The Triangle has some great concert venues, and North Carolina has several really good music festivals.

4. What are three television shows you can’t miss?
  • Lost
  • The Office
  • Law & Order

5. Tell us something about yourself that otherwise we wouldn’t know or guess.
I like traveling to out-of-the-way places. I've visited several uninhabited islands and once stayed in a Scottish hostel accessible only by a day's hike.

Lisa Hoppenjans is a second-year JD student. She is co-chair of the law school's Southern Justice Spring Break service trips and volunteer coordinator of the Public Interest Law Foundation. She is also a member of the school's mock trial and moot court boards, a teaching assistant for a first-year Legal Analysis, Research & Writing class, and an incoming note editor for the Duke Law Journal.

Previous Student Leader Spotlights:

If you'd like to nominate a classmate for the Student Leader Spotlight, please email your suggestion to