Goal IX Newsletter

Spring 2001, Volume 7, Number 2

Judicial Clerkship Program by: Eronda Johnson

As a first-year law student, one of the challenges I have encountered is deciding what to do at this early stage to prepare for my legal career. Recently, the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession and the ABA Judicial Division sponsored a Judicial Clerkship Program for minority students interested in clerking for a judge. Initially, I had no idea what this would entail. I did not know what a law clerk actually did and was unsure of how this could benefit me. I knew that I was interested in becoming a judge one day and felt that the program could help guide me in making initial career decisions.

Eronda Johnson

The program consisted of five law schools: University of Texas, Cornell Law School, University of Michigan, Duke University, and University of New Mexico. Upon arrival, we were separated into teams, each a mix of members from different schools. Each team was then assigned to two judges who met with us and gave us each an assignment. My team was given two days to write a bench memo and a brief on our assigned issue.

Participating in this program was definitely exciting. I appreciate the opportunity I had to work with judges on an assignment. I was not sure what to expect, but the judges were very enthusiastic and welcoming. In fact, I was a bit surprised by their demeanor. We were able to ask questions about what law clerks actually do, what qualifications the judges seek when screening clerkship applicants, and what we can do to better prepare ourselves to work with judges.

The most rewarding part of the program was the interaction with the judges. Having two or three judges at your disposal is not a very common occurrence. Judges in attendance included Judge Benjamin H. Logan, Judge Ezra H. Friedlander, Judge Frank Sullivan, Judge Danny J. Boggs, Judge Jean Cooper, Judge Margaret McKeown, Judge James S. Sledge, Judge Suzanne Conlon, Judge Henry DuPont Ridgely, Judge John Grimm, Judge Michael G. Harrison, Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, Judge Tela L. Gatewood, and Judge James G. Glazebrook. Not only were we given the opportunity to interact with the judges in a business setting, but many of the judges also networked with students at dinners and receptions held in our honor.

Based on my participation in the program, I have decided my goal is to obtain a judicial clerkship. The ABA has given me an opportunity that a lot of students do not have, and I consider myself very fortunate. Before attending the program, I did not realize the need for minority law clerks or know that minorities typically are underrepresented in this area. This underrepresentation is significant because many of the lawyers who eventually become judges clerked for a judge at one time. As an African American aspiring to be a judge, I now see the importance of obtaining a clerkship. One of the goals of the Judicial Clerkship Program is to bring diversity to the profession, and I thank the ABA for including me in its efforts.

Eronda Johnson is a first-year law student at University of Texas.

Racial/Ethnicity distribution of Judicial Clerkships by Level of Clerkship: 1994-1998 - National Association For Law Placement (Sept. 2000)

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