M. Kamran Meyer, Co-Director of USF Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic ’08

Those Who Can, Teach

“I went through the program that I’m teaching now and it was the best thing I had done in law school. I feel like it helped me get my first job. I was able to go to people and say I’ve actually done hearings. I’ve written motions. I’ve been in court.”

As a criminal defense attorney, M. Kamran Meyer ’08 strives to be as empathetic as possible toward his clients. Now he’s passing that approach on to the next generation of defense attorneys as co-director of the USF Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic.

“The students are everything for me and I try to give them as much of my time as possible,” says Kamran. “I really enjoy knowing that a student I work with might eventually go out there and make some new law.”

Kamran himself came out of the same clinic well prepared. After law school, he joined a San Francisco firm specializing in state and federal criminal defense and credits USF with giving him the experience to land that first job. He eventually formed his own practice, taking on a full range of criminal defense matters.

“I went through the program that I’m teaching now and when I went through it I felt like it was the best thing I had done in law school. I had really great teachers, but I don’t really think there’s any substitute for hands-on experience. I feel like it helped me get my first job. I was able to go to people and say I’ve actually done hearings. I’ve written motions. I’ve been in court. I have deep feeling for this program because it ended up helping me quite a bit.”

When the clinic needed help one summer managing the caseload while students were on break, Kamran was happy to help. That eventually led to his current position as a Hamill Fellow, an unexpected career move he loves.

“The collegiality of the faculty is amazing and from the moment I got here, they were welcoming and accommodating,” Kamran says. “They really went out of their way to help me get my research going. I’d never done scholarly writing before and they were great about helping me. I’d never taught anything before and all the faculty have been terrific about helping me choose conferences and find materials to help me craft the kind of teacher I wanted to be.”

Now there are times when Kamran thinks of himself as more a teacher than a lawyer. “I know how to run a criminal case. Now I find that the craft of getting a student to where they need to be is more rewarding than doing it myself,” Kamran says. “The moment I first saw a student do a hearing and not need me because they’re so well-prepared was when I realized I love that more than just the winning.”

“The faculty are all super approachable. They make themselves very, very available for office hours. It’s really common that if a professor’s in their office, typically the door’s going to be open. You rarely, if ever, hear that faculty at USF are not available and I think that’s one of the real strong points here.”

Kamran’s scholarly work so far has focused on the use – and misuse, he argues – of rap lyrics in criminal trials. He does all his work with an eye toward the change he’d eventually like to see – limiting and narrowing the way in which people are incarcerated.

“With every generation, there’s going to be a handful of lawyers that comes out and one of them is going to make a piece of case law that changes something,” Kamran says. “One of these students is going to do something at some point and I would be honored if I could have a part in their education.”