Kelly M. Matayoshi is an attorney with Farella Braun & Martel, a California law firm focused on representing corporate and private clients in business transactions and commercial, civil, and criminal litigation. Kelly practices both business litigation, specializing in products liability, and employment law, where she has experience in a number of different areas representing employers at both the state and federal levels. Kelly is also active with bar associations and participates in various leadership positions, including the San Francisco Leadership Team of JIOP. During law school, Kelly knew that she wanted to become a litigator so she intentionally sought opportunities to work with judges, which lead to her initial experience with JIOP. Through JIOP, Kelly participated as an extern and had the honor of interning with Judge Edward M. Chen of the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California.
What drew you to JIOP?
I knew I wanted to be a litigator and had been looking to do a judicial internship during my 1L summer of law school. While law school provided me with writing and research courses as a formative part of my studies, I felt I needed experience that came from stepping away from such a structured setting. There was always the professor, teacher’s assistant, or someone else there to lean on in law school. I saw a judicial internship as an opportunity to better prepare myself to enter into the legal profession.
Unfortunately, most judicial internships are not paid positions and many require a significant time commitment. Fortunately, I received an announcement about JIOP through an email blast, and I learned that JIOP provides a stipend. I also learned that JIOP had a number of esteemed judges participating in the program, which sealed the deal for me. The most important aspect that drew me to JIOP was the behind-the-scenes look at the judiciary that JIOP gives its participants. It is an opportunity to follow and be involved in a case from start to finish.
How has JIOP had an impact on your career?
It has made a tremendous impact on my career in numerous ways. While going through the screening process, I interviewed at Farella Braun & Martel. I did not know anything about the firm prior to my JIOP interview, but once I sat down with attorneys there, I knew I wanted to work for the firm. I stayed in touch with my attorney interviewer, and once the on-campus interview process began at my law school, I made a call to my JIOP interviewer and he was able to put in a good word on my behalf. I am still with Farella Braun & Martel today, and I can credit JIOP with helping develop the relationships that landed me my first and only legal job.
Secondly, JIOP exposed me to a pillar in the legal community here in San Francisco by partnering me with Judge Edward Chen. Thanks to his mentorship and inspiration, I am now on the board of the Alaskan American Bar Association and I am responsible for developing a mentorship program for JIOP.
Thirdly, the last impact of participating in JIOP does not end with professional development and ties to the community. The skills I learned in JIOP remain applicable to me even now. The skills that I first developed through JIOP are the same skills that I use to be successful in my practice every day.
What would you say to a student who is still undecided about JIOP?
I know law school for many reasons is almost all-encompassing. There are always various student groups to join, clinics to participate in, and other activities to do along with everything else that law school has to offer. However, I found that law school activities do not always give law students an opportunity to make connections within the profession and community that students are about to enter. From working with one’s judge, clerks, and other externs, participants in JIOP get the chance to develop those relationships through practical and daily interactions.
Any advice for those going through the JIOP selection process?
This is going to sound corny, but just be yourself. The judges who have agreed to participate in JIOP already believe in the program and its mission. They are not necessarily looking for the person with the best academic accolades. Rather, they are looking for people whom they can also believe in, people who they know will make greater lawyers and will do good for the profession.
Ricky Flores is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Palatine, Illinois. He is also a 2018 graduate of the John Marshall Law School and a 2018 JIOP alum.
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