What's it like having a judicial clerkship? These post-grad full-time jobs can serve as an excellent bridge to practicing law. Erin Donegan RLAW '19, former clerk for an appellate court judge and current associate at Anderson & Shah, and Jennifer McPeak RLAW '19, former clerk for a superior court judge and current associate at Siciliano & Associates LLC, share their firsthand experiences.
What were some of your responsibilities?
Erin: “The first and most important is to proof read the judge’s decisions. . . We’d read through it once for basic grammar, the second time for all of the quotes in the brief. You check the quotes in the cases and check the citations and make sure all of the citations are correct. The third time you read through, it’s for clarity to make sure the decision just reads well and attorneys will understand what it’s meant to be.”
Jennifer: “Mornings and afternoons were a lot of research and writing memos for the judge. We had motions every other Friday, so my two weeks leading up to that were preparing the judge for those motions so he knew what was going on and he knew all of the issues coming up on those Fridays.
What skills did you learn that help you with your work now?
Erin: “One of the most valuable things is how well I know the Blue Book. When you’re working on briefs in practice you’re working with a lot of different people. Me being able to look at a page and pull out six errors in citations, it’s really valuable. We do appellate work at my firm and I’m always really involved in the appeals so that’s really nice."
Jennifer: “I think the most valuable thing I got from my clerkship. . . was just the relationships with everyone in that courthouse. If you walk into the courthouse, it’s not just the judge, there’s forty other people making sure that event happened that day. There’s a whole team of people that make that place run and without them, it wouldn’t. It’s better to be kind to everyone.”
What was something interesting you remember from your clerkship?
Erin: “I would talk about the cases with the judge before I would start writing the memo. . . Some judges don’t talk with clerks at all about the cases, but if something sticks out to (my judge) she wanted us to research it right off the bat.”
Jennifer: “We got to see all kinds of trials, all kinds of attorneys, and all kinds of decisions. It was great. I got to experience all of it, between trials, the Special Civil part, the regular law division. We had appellate oral arguments in our courthouse twice. I got a lot of experience in the courtroom and saw how things run on both sides.”