Stephen Spaulding '05
What is your current job?
I am an attorney at Common Cause in Washington, D.C. Common Cause is a nonpartisan advocacy organization to make citizens' voices heard in the political process, and to hold our elected officials accountable to the public interest. I regularly advise staff on a variety of legal and policy issues around our core issues of money-in-politics, voting rights, and transparency in government. I also help to advise congressional offices and others in government about these matters, and work to muster the collective voices of our 400,000 members and supporters across the country.
Why did you choose this profession?
I've always loved politics, and I wanted to find a way to participate in the great debates of our country, to help shape change and strengthen our democracy. Becoming an attorney was one way to do that. There are lots of other ways, too, of course, but I enjoy the intellectual challenge and tools a career in law can provide.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
Ridding our political system of the corrosive influence of money would be an accomplishment, but I'm under no illusions that this will be a long term struggle. I want to bring as many average, ordinary Americans into our democracy as possible, by protecting and expanding the right to vote and giving everyone a stake in the direction of our country. Maybe I'll also open a food truck so that everyone can experience my mom's crabcake recipe on their lunch hour.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
When I graduated from law school at the height of the financial crisis in 2009, I had already accepted an offer to begin my legal career at a major corporate law firm. Because the economy was in free fall and legal work was drying up, however, the law firm offered incoming associates a choice to defer their start-date at the firm for one year. In exchange, the firm offered to fund fellowships at various non-profit organizations, legal services organizations and government agencies. I was fortunate to spend my fellowship year with Common Cause, where I got to work immediately on a number of democracy law issues around money-in-politics and voting rights. At the conclusion of my fellowship, I joined the litigation department of the law firm. The work was exceptionally complex and challenging, with an exciting base of sophisticated business clients, but I continued to feel a pull back to the advocacy community. After much serious consideration, I accepted an offer to return Common Cause, and have found this move very positive. I will always be deeply thankful to the firm for the opportunity it afforded its incoming associates at a very challenging time in our economy, and for the lesson it taught in being flexible and open to change.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
Haverford places a premium on dialogue and consensus, two skills that are critical to my job as an attorney and advocate. I've also been lucky to have crossed paths with a wide variety of alumni at various stages in their careers, and the instant connection that Haverford provides can open doors and lead to shared opportunities.