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January 03, 2020 Judicial Division

2020 JCP: Why You Should Participate as a Judge?

By Hon. Heather A. Welch, Indianapolis, IN

The Judicial Clerkship Program (JCP) is a joint effort of the ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline and the ABA Judicial Division (JD) with the generous support of LexisNexis.  Robert Saunooke and the Honorable Heather Welch, Marion Superior Court, Indianapolis, Indiana, received their appointments from JD Chair Justice Elizabeth Lang-Miers and have co-chaired since 2016.  Judge Welch and Saunooke lead a Committee made up of members from each of the six JD conferences to annually prepare and present the JCP during the ABA Midyear conferences.  This year, the JCP celebrates its 20th year anniversary and will be held in conjunction with the Midyear in Austin, TX on February 13-15, 2020. 

The purpose of the JCP is to educate law students about the myriad of opportunities for clerkships in courts at every level.  Law Schools participate in the program by selecting and sending outstanding students, most of who are minority and also first-generation lawyers in their families.  Volunteer judges work closely with the law students during the three-day program as the students listen and participate in panel discussions with judges, conduct a research and writing exercise designed to emulate the clerkship experience, and interact with the volunteer judges at various informal social events.  These activities educate the students about judicial clerkship programs, inform them how to obtain a judicial clerkship, and encourages them to seek and apply for judicial clerkship positions.  Perhaps most importantly, it provides the students with an opportunity to interact with successful Federal and State judges, both trial and appellate, from different courts across the United States.  Professor Frank Sullivan, Jr., Professor of Practice at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former Justice on the Indiana Supreme Court, has once again agreed to write a challenging and interesting problem for the law students to tackle at the 2020 JCP.

The JCP Committee hopes you will consider participating in this important program to build a diverse pipeline for our legal profession.  Many statistics gathered regarding Federal and State courts demonstrate that we need to continue to work on encouraging minority and other students in traditionally under-represented communities to seek and obtain clerkships in both federal and state courts and within both state and federal administrative agencies.