One of the highlights of attending the ABA Midyear Meeting last month for me was the chance to participate again in the annual Judicial Clerkship Program, presented by the ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline and the ABA Judicial Division. This program aims to educate law students from diverse backgrounds on the benefits of a judicial clerkship and to encourage them to apply. Over the course of three days, the students have the opportunity to interact in a small group setting with judges, explore legal issues, observe an appellate oral argument, and learn about different aspects of working as a law clerk.
The Judicial Clerkship Program is one of a number of efforts to address the lack of diversity in the ranks of judicial clerks. For young lawyers, service as a law clerk opens up many career advancement opportunities in academia, in government, in prestigious private sector practice areas, and in appointments to the bench. One area that has been impacted by the lack of diversity in the ranks of judicial law clerks is the appellate field, particularly in the federal courts. If you haven’t heard of it already, I commend to you The Appellate Project (TAP), founded in 2019 by Juvaria Khan, which aims to bridge this gap.
TAP powerfully explains its mission.
Appellate courts issue decisions that impact all aspects of our personal lives: our ability to vote, how we are policed, our religious freedom, the quality of our education, our workplaces, healthcare, immigration protections, and much more. Although these decisions often disproportionately impact communities of color, people of color remain almost entirely absent as both appellate attorneys and judges.
TAP runs a nationwide Mentorship Program to empower law students of color to pursue appellate practice, which includes skills-building and clerkship support. If you’re interested in TAP or wish to volunteer, I encourage you to check out their website at www.taplaw.org or reach out to [email protected].