2018 Diversity Clerks: Billie Saunders, Dakota Larson, Joanetta Fields Van Rijn, Luckie K Milad, Vernetra Gavin, Seiwon Kyung (not pictured Sydney McGrane)
Background and Mission
The American Bar Association Business Law Section is committed to encouraging diversity in the Section by fostering a welcoming environment for all lawyers and promoting full and equal participation by all lawyers, including lawyers of color, women lawyers, gay and lesbian lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities ("Diverse Lawyers").
To further this mission, the Business Law Section sponsors the Diversity Clerkship Program. This summer program provides business law clerkship placements for four qualified diverse first or second year law students. Participating clerks will receive support and mentoring in the business law field and exposure to business practices that many of them lack.
The Business Law Section Diversity Clerkship Program focus is on judicial clerkships, where diversity among judicial clerks remains disproportionately low. For law students, serving as a judicial law clerk is a mark of distinction and honor that will advance their future career opportunities in law practice, and academia, in government as high-level appointees, and in securing appointments to the bench. Clerkships in business law courts provide another unique and highly important benefit to law students: the ability to see a microcosm of business practice, and allow the student to become familiar with business issues. Such a background will prove invaluable to a career in business law, whether it be litigation or transactional work.
About the Program
- To encourage more diverse law students to apply for clerkship positions.
- To foster relationships between business court judges and diverse law students.
- To provide students with a foundation in various aspects of business law.
- To provide opportunities for students to meet a wide variety of lawyers who are active in the practice of business law and are members of the Business Law Section.
- To establish a support system for diverse students who are pursuing business court clerkship positions and a possible career in business law.
Clerk Roles and Responsibilities
The purpose of the Diversity Clerkship Program is to provide hands-on experience and exposure in Business Law to law students. Roles and responsibilities of selected Diversity Clerkship participants include but are not limited to the following:
- Researching cases
- Drafting memoranda and opinions
- Observing trials
- Networking with local attorneys and judges
Clerkship locations will be determined after clerks are selected based on the needs of Business Court Judges in various locations. Placements from the 2017 program included the following locations:
- Chicago, IL
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Las Vegas, NV
- Pittsburgh, PA
- New York, NY
- Wilmington, DE
- Upper Marlboro, MD
Please note that the Business Law Section will do its best to accommodate recipients’ location preferences but cannot accommodate all requests.
Participants in the Diversity Clerkship will receive a $3,000 stipend to cover living expenses upon the start of their Clerkship.
- Applicants must be current first or second year law students attending an ABA-approved law school.
- Applicants must be considered diverse in one of the following ways:
- Law student of color
- Law students with disabilities
- LGBT law students
- Students who have overcome social or economic disadvantages such as a physical disability, financial constraints, or cultural impediments to becoming a law student
- Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
- Applicants must be ABA Law Student Division and Business Law Section members.
Application Components and Deadline
All application components (including transcripts and letters of recommendation) must be received by January 8, 2020. The application consists of six primary parts:
- Completed Diversity Clerkship Application
- Application Essay (essay details are listed on the application)
- Writing Sample from law school
- Law school transcript* and undergraduate transcript.
- Acceptable documentation includes:
- A scanned copy of a transcript or an academic record from the institution’s Student Information System (SIS) Portal.
- An “issued to student” transcript.
- An electronic transcript in PDF form. (Please make sure no additional authentication is needed)
- Upon selection, accepted applicants will be required to provide official undergraduate and law school transcripts prior to receiving their clerkship assignment.
- Acceptable documentation includes:
- Two (2) letters of recommendation
*First year law students must request approval from ABA staff person Gina Dickinson to submit their law school transcript after the application deadline.
Former Diversity Clerks
2019 Diversity Clerks
- Michael Adler, Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland OR
clerked with Judge Pamela Meyerson & Judge James Snyder in Chicago, IL.
- Erika Fowler, Charleston School of Law
clerked with Judge Clifton Newman in Columbia, SC.
- Waleisha Moat, Widener Law Commonwealth
clerked with Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights in Dover, DE.
- Terrance White, Thurgood Marshall School of Law
clerked with Judge Nancy Allf in Las Vegas, NV.