[Shon] Hopwood is no ordinary law student.
The 37-year-old father of two served 10 years in federal prison for robbing five banks in the late 1990s. While in prison, he became such an adept jailhouse lawyer that two of his petitions were reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"People that knew me before prison — they shake their heads," said Hopwood, now in his second year of law school. "They shake their heads over me writing."
That's another thing about Hopwood: This summer, his memoir, "Law Man," written with co-writer Dennis Burke, was published by Crown Publishing.
"There are so many things about him that are amazing and interesting," said Michele Storms, assistant dean for public-service law at the UW.
"That whole prison lawyer thing? That's no small potatoes," Storms said. "He obviously had an incredible intellectual capacity, but through a series of bad choices — very bad choices — and a lack of motivation, went down the wrong path."
Storms is director of the Gates Public Service Law Program, which has awarded Hopwood a full-ride scholarship — one of five awarded each year to incoming law students who commit to at least five years in a public-service law practice after graduating.
The $33 million program was created in 2005 to honor Bill Gates Sr., the lawyer and UW regent, by his son, Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda.Some might say it's natural evolution.