Photo of Courtney Liss

Photo of Courtney Liss

Associate, Keker, Van Nest & Peters

Law Clerk, United States Court of Appeals

LA ’15


From discovering newfound legal interests to tackling deep-rooted challenges, Courtney Liss has been able to bridge her interests in law and advocacy as a Law Clerk for Judge Gabriel Sanchez on the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and now as an Associate for the law firm Keker, Van Nest & Peters.

“My favorite parts [are] getting to work with wonderful people on really tough cases, developing my pro bono practice and getting really great oral argument experience only a few months into my career,” described Liss.

After graduating from Tulane and becoming the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Liss attended University of Michigan Law School. Studying law was not originally in Liss’s plan, but after working in government relations and communications in the nonprofit sector, she realized her true calling lay in addressing contemporary social problems.

“I wanted to be able to work more directly on live issues and serve my community, especially as a queer Vietnamese American woman, in a different forum,” reflected Liss. “That sent me to law school at Michigan Law, which introduced me to wonderful mentors, and those lovely people helped me find my way here.”

During her undergraduate years, Liss attended PLEN’s Women and Global Affairs and Women, Business, and Policy seminars. She also founded the Newcomb Book Club as a space for students to share their love of reading.

“I’m not sure I would have made it to DC, where I worked for a few years before law school, or to law school without Newcomb,” expressed Liss. “The Institute gave me the encouragement and support I needed to take on big advocacy projects in college, and sent me to DC for the first time through PLEN. These opportunities expanded my view of the professional world and created my network, which has been of immense importance to me at every step.”

As she continues practicing law, Liss remembers one of the lessons she first learned at PLEN: lives and careers are often very surprising.

“I hope to still be practicing law, finding ways to use my passion for advocacy to support causes and communities I care deeply about, and finding ways to put ‘one hand forward, one hand back’ in terms of mentorship, as Professor Anna Mahoney says.”