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In 2017, The American Bar Association hired Laurium Evaluation Group to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of three diversity pipeline programs from March 2017 to October 2018.  For all three programs, a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis was conducted, which included a review of program records and surveys of current and former participants either once or twice during the evaluation.  For the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP), interns completed a survey after the 2017 and 2018 summer intern experience and JIOP alumni completed a survey in August 2017 and August 2018.  To further explore the impact of the programs and their operations, interviews were held with key stakeholders for each program including ABA staff, ABA members who contribute to or volunteer with the programs, law school representatives whose students participated in one of the programs and judges who participate in JIOP. 

Over the years there have been a steady number of students aided by JIOP and student demand has been strong for receiving an award and placement in a JIOP internship.  In 2018, there were more than 600 applicants for the 155 JIOP internships offered.  Study results confirmed JIOP’s success in meeting and exceeding existing outcomes but called for an evaluation of current goals and an expansion of the program’s vision.  The 2019 JIOP leadership committee reviewed existing program operations and goals and considered how JIOP might approach the next five years to continue to advance diversity in the profession while meeting the needs of the program’s various audiences including diverse law students, judges, sponsors, the ABA and the Section of Litigation.   While the changes were not significant, the committee developed the following goals, mission and program deliverables:

  1. JIOP Mission
  2. JIOP Vision
  3. Program Goals
  4. Process
  5. Measurable Outcomes
  6. Future Recommendations

JIOP Mission

To advance diversity in the profession by creating an opportunity for underrepresented law students to obtain paid judicial internships that provide valuable experience, networking opportunities, and a sense of belonging in the legal profession.

JIOP Vision

JIOP began as a program to increase diversity in the courts.  That goal remains, but in addition to increasing the number of diverse law clerks by providing them an internship experience and contacts to obtain judicial clerkships, we now realize that JIOP is also intended to jump start young diverse professionals as they enter their legal careers further advancing diversity in the profession.

Program Goals

  1. To provide applicants with an opportunity to receive valuable feedback on their resume and writing sample through the screening process.  JIOP volunteers provide an opportunity for students to gain an important legal resource where they attend law school and meet with a practicing professional as an introduction to the legal community.
  2. To provide selected students an opportunity to increase their writing, research and legal skills through a paid internship with a state or federal judge.
  3. To connect students with valuable mentors including judges, law clerks, lawyers and former JIOP alums.
  4. To provide interns with information and skills necessary to better prepare them to pass the bar.
  5. To connect interns with the legal community and contacts necessary to assist them in obtaining their first job in the legal profession.
  6. To create interest and experience so more JIOP interns consider and ultimately apply for legal clerkships.
  7. To give JIOP interns and alumni better resources assisting them as they advance their legal careers through the JIOP committee including articles, programming and mentoring.
  8. To expose students to the ABA and section resources as a tool to create involvement, membership and leadership in these communities and give them a nationwide network through the ABA and supporting sections.


JIOP provides summer internships with a state or federal judge in 11 cities.  JIOP accepts applicants from students who are members of racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the profession. The program also provides opportunities to students with disabilities, women, students who are economically disadvantaged, and students who identify as LGBT.  Intern are paid an award of $2,000 to help offset their expenses.  The first 500 applicants are granted a screening interview where they attend law school.  Interns are given a program orientation and welcome reception including judges, sponsors, JIOP alumni and supporters from the local legal community.  Interns also participate in JIOP’s mentoring circle program and are presented with other programming opportunities throughout the summer.  All JIOP applicants are automatically enrolled in the ABA and the Section of Litigation along with the JIOP committee.  The JIOP committee provides interns and JIOP alumni with other programming including a newsletter, webinars, podcasts and events.

Measurable Outcomes

The Laurium Evaluation study showed that JIOP interns express satisfaction with multiple facets of their summer experience—performing meaningful work, improved skills, and building connections through the JIOP mentor program.  JIOP interns also report that the amount of time spent with their mentor was just about right and most interns said their mentor provided valuable and appropriate guidance and advice.  By the end of the summer internship, more than 80 percent of JIOP interns were more interested in applying for a judicial clerkship.  Additionally, the study results noted that JIOP participants are expected to achieve positive long-term program outcomes, such as graduating from law school and obtaining a job of choice—all leading to greater diversity in the legal profession and judiciary.  Using these results, the committee will measure the program’s success using the following measurable outcomes as determined by annual participant surveys:

  1. JIOP applicants are given an important resource and valuable feedback as a result of their screening interview.
  2. JIOP interns are given important and meaningful work during their summer internship.
  3. JIOP interns demonstrate increased skills as a result of their internship including better writing and research skills.
  4. The JIOP internship experience better prepares interns for law school graduation and ultimately bar passage.
  5. The screening process and JIOP internship assists JIOP interns in obtaining their first legal position following law school.
  6. JIOP interns are given valuable feedback, guidance and advice from mentors throughout the JIOP process.
  7. JIOP interns are exposed to a network of local and national individuals that assist in providing guidance and advice throughout law school and their early legal careers.
  8. JIOP interns demonstrate an increased knowledge of the judicial process and understand the process involved with applying for a judicial clerkship.
  9. JIOP interns are better connected with the local legal community as a result of their placement.
  10. JIOP interns are exposed to the ABA and sponsoring sections offering them valuable resources as a law student and young lawyers.
  11. JIOP interns remain involved in the JIOP program as volunteers, mentors and consider remaining involved in the ABA and sponsoring sections.

Future Recommendations

  • JIOP will increase and encourage coordination and collaboration among Judicial Clerkship participants to build a stronger linkage between programs.  The JIOP program will be marketed to students selected to participate in the Judicial Clerkship Program (JCP) in the fall and will give students completing the JCP priority application status.  Building a direct connection between JCP and JIOP will increase the likelihood of interns learning more about the clerking process and ultimately encourage more JIOP interns to apply for judicial clerkships.
  • We will continue to develop and enhance the JIOP committee.  Participants expressed high levels of satisfaction with the benefits offered by the ABA and supporting sections and strong interest to connect with other program participants and the legal community.  JIOP will continue to actively seeks volunteers, screen applicants, provide orientation panels and networking receptions.  The contributions of the JIOP alumni make it possible to offer various programmatic components that interns find important and enhance their summer experience.  Continuing to tap into the existing alumni structure to engage alumni in the committee, the ABA and our supporting sections are beneficial for both the program, our young lawyer population and our future.
  • The committee will add a membership and marketing component to further encourage JIOP alumni to get more involved in the ABA and supporting sections.  There is also an untapped potential to make connections with students who applied for JIOP but were not selected.  These students will now be automatically enrolled in the ABA and Section of Litigation, so we have an opportunity to make them aware of the ABA, the Section of Litigation and our resources.

JIOP has offered opportunities to thousands of students since its inception and continually strives to improve the experience for diverse law students.  Moving forward we hope to take advantage and take steps to increase the impact of JIOP on the diversity and inclusion pipeline including:

  1. Clearly articulating a plan for tracking participants on an annual basis including sending an exit survey to alumni who were expected to graduate in the most recent year.  The survey will track graduation status, bar passage, and current employment. 
  2. We will continue to solicit program testimonials from JIOP students and alumni about their experience with the program and the impact it had on their employment decisions and future.
  3. We will continue to use this data and stories to help raise money to support the program and placements.
  4. We will also continue to seek collaborations with other programs to improve diversity in the legal profession.