Skip to content
  • Print


School: McGeorge School of Law

Major: Water law

Class Year: 2013

Occupation: Attorney, Environmental Law
King, Williams & Gleason, LLP

City: Sacramento, CA

Professor Stephen McCaffrey
Distinguished Professor Stephen McCaffrey, an internationally recognized expert in water law, was an important mentor for Corby in preparing for a career in environmental law.
related tags


Office of Graduate Studies

McGeorge School of Law
3200 Fifth Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817

Kristian Corby '13 lands his dream job in environmental law

Kristian Corby '13 LAW
"Part of the reason I've been able to be successful is because McGeorge is so willing to entertain student ideas." - Kristian Corby '13

When prospective law student Kristian Corby '13 was researching schools to match his interest in water law, he noticed one name—Stephen C. McCaffrey—kept cropping up.

McCaffrey, a Distinguished Professor at Pacific McGeorge School of Law, is a titan of international water law. He has drafted conventions on the use of international waterways for the United Nations; he regularly represents countries in water disputes before the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, Netherlands; he has served as a former Counselor on International Law for the U.S. State Department; and he also advises Palestine on the Permanent Status talks with Israel.

What Corby didn't know was how McCaffrey would become so much more than just a celebrity professor—he would become a a trusted advisor and mentor, and now a colleague—and that he represented the kind of personalized education McGeorge offers.

"It was unreal that I was going to be able to study with him. He was like a rock star. When I first met him I was intimidated, but then as I took his classes and met with him in his office hours, I got to know this humble, down-to-earth, easygoing guy," says Corby. "And he is absolutely the sharp point of the spear when it comes to international water law."

Corby wanted to go to law school on the West Coast, and he came to realize that Sacramento's first-tier position in Western water law issues, coupled with the access to McCaffrey, made McGeorge a natural choice. It was a choice that's proved to be a good one for Corby. He co-founded McGeorge's Water Law Society, which taps the region's expertise to deliver important educational opportunities for students. He also pitched McCaffrey on a possible water law fellowship, for which McCaffrey provided enthusiastic support.

"We were sitting in class and he said that when he goes to The Hague, he's the only one who doesn't have any assistants. Well, my ears perked up," said Corby.  "After class, I said I'd be interested in doing that and that I'd be glad to look at grant programs to fund it. He was absolutely, 'Yeah, do that, that'd be great.' That spawned the water law fellowship."

Corby became the first-ever McGeorge Water Fellow, where he assisted Prof. McCaffrey in case preparations for disputes before the International Court of Justice and authored articles in prominent law publications.

Not that McCaffrey would ever take any of the credit.

"Every time the fellowship idea comes up, he says the same thing: 'You know, Kristian, that was your idea. You're the one who got that off the ground.'"

Corby says that McCaffrey provided him with the foundation for his success both at McGeorge and in the workplace. Corby is now an associate attorney at King Williams & Gleason LLP, a Sacramento-based environmental law firm, where he specializes in hazardous waste remediation.

"Part of the reason I've been able to be successful is because McGeorge is so willing to entertain student ideas," said Corby. "This is a dream job. I never would have expected that as a first-year attorney I would be gaining experience in the highly competitive field of environmental law." 

 "I'm working directly with partners, writing motions, helping determine strategy. I'm not just looking under the hood: I'm helping build the engine. It's fantastic!"