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When John Levin was a student at Stanford Law School from 1969 to 1973, the country was in tumult. The atmosphere was rich with social activism and enthusiasm for community service. Those years turned out to be formative for the San Francisco lawyer, the co-founder of Folger Levin & Kahn. Being a lawyer carried the connotation of service to others, he said. Levin most recently put that philosophy into practice with a gift of $3.75 million to Stanford Law School to help found a center for public service and public interest law, which will be named after him and his wife. The John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law will provide seminars focusing on such topics as client relationships, impact litigation and ethics. And it’s opening at a time when Stanford’s law school is retooling its second- and third-year curriculum to make it more interdisciplinary, more practical and more focused on social responsibility. The money will go toward expanding the law school’s pro bono program, its national mentorship network, and its career counseling and job placement in public service and public interest posts. It also will fund an annual conference for practicing attorneys about the future of public service practice. Levin, vice-chairman of the board of trustees of Stanford University and a member of the law dean’s strategic council, said the idea for the center grew out of conversations he had with Larry Kramer, the law school’s dean, and Larry Marshall, a professor and associate dean for public interest and clinical education. Levin is a senior corporate transactional partner at Folger Levin and dispenses pro bono advice to a string of nonprofits, including KQED, the San Francisco Opera and Team-Up For Youth. “I believe very strongly that being a lawyer at its core is providing services to others,” he said, “and that’s true regardless of what segment of law you choose to practice in.”

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