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Judicial Clerkships

FAST FACTS

JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP PROGRAM


“Clerking is far and away the best way to start your legal career.” A judicial clerkship is one of the most prestigious and valuable employment experiences available to a graduating student or recent law graduate. Judicial clerks gain inside knowledge of how parties pursue actual cases and how judges resolve legal issues, which is valued highly by legal employers. Clerks are exposed to substantive law and procedure while developing their research and writing skills. They also have the opportunity to develop a mentoring relationship with an experienced judge and a professional network of fellow and former clerks.

Bressman holds informational meetings detailing the application and interviewing process and then meets with each interested student individually. Students and recent Vanderbilt Law graduates receive guidance throughout the application process, including assistance completing and with submitting application packages and preparing for interviews. Some judges prefer to hire clerks with one or more years of work experience, and Vanderbilt’s Clerkship Program supports recent graduates seeking a clerkship, as well as current 3Ls.

Clerkships are available at all levels of the federal and state court systems and with specialized courts such as bankruptcy and tax courts. The process for obtaining a clerkship is extremely competitive. Vanderbilt’s Judicial Clerkship Program provides support throughout the hiring process and has enjoyed great success in helping students and graduates secure clerkships at all levels of the judicial system.

Success in Clerkship Placements Each year, Vanderbilt students and recent graduates secure clerkships with federal appellate and district court judges, federal bankruptcy judges, and judges in state supreme, appellate and district courts. Within the past decade, Vanderbilt Law graduates have also clerked with the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the Delaware Court of Chancery and other specialty courts.

Guidance Throughout Law School Starting in their 1L year, students are invited to general information sessions about clerkship opportunities, which cover the courses and extracurricular activities during law school that help prepare a candidate for a judicial clerkship after graduation. Clerkship Program Director Michael

“I can’t imagine a more rewarding start to a career in law than clerking. I got to work on cases of all types, including tort and contract disputes, First Amendment challenges, drug-conspiracy prosecutions, antitrust class actions and more. I also learned about the process of litigation from filing or removal to dispositive motions, from discovery to trial, and from sentencing to appeal. Perhaps most importantly, I gained lifelong mentors and friends in the judges and clerks I worked alongside.” MATTHEW DOWNER

| Class of 2014 Clerk to Judge Raymond Kethledge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2015–16) and to Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (2014–15)


VLS ranked 10th among U.S. law schools for percentage of graduates going to federal clerkships in 2015. Forty-four Vanderbilt Law students and recent graduates, including 21 members of the Class of 2016, secured 46 clerkships before June 30, 2015, to be served in 2016–17 or in future terms. VLS students and recent graduates secured federal appellate clerkships with judges on the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh, D.C. and Federal Circuits; in federal district courts in 10 states—Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada and Tennessee—and the Virgin Islands; and in federal bankruptcy courts in Florida and Texas. Graduates also secured clerkships in state courts in Arizona, Colorado and Tennessee. Class of 2016 (22 clerkships) Federal Appellate Courts Judge Srikanth Srinivasan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2017–18) Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Jane R. Roth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Washington, D.C. Judge Rhesa H. Barksdale, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Jackson, Mississippi Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis, Tennessee Senior Judge Gilbert S. Merritt Jr. ’60, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Nashville, Tennessee (2) Judge Duane Benton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Kansas City, Missouri Federal District Courts Chief Judge Karon O. Bowdre, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Birmingham

“Clerking provides a unique opportunity to see the inner workings of how law is made and developed over time. The way in which one’s legal mind is sharpened through the rigorous clerkship experience cannot be understated.”

KENDRA KEY | Class of 2015 Clerk to Judge David Hamilton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2015–16; Associate, Maynard Cooper & Gale, Birmingham, Alabama

Judge G. Murray Snow, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Judge Eleanor L. Ross, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta (2017–18) Judge Theresa L. Springmann, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Judge Amul R. Thapar, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Covington Judge David J. Hale, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Judge James C. Mahan ’73, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Las Vegas Judge Travis R. McDonough ’97, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Chattanooga (2016–18) Judge Sheryl H. Lipman, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Memphis Chief Judge Wilma A. Lewis, U.S. District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix (2016–18)

Federal Bankruptcy Courts Judge Roberta A. Colton, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Judge Bill G. Parker, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler State Courts Judge Margaret H. Downie, Arizona Court of Appeals, Phoenix Judges Jeffrey M. Atherton and Pamela A. Fleenor, Tennessee Chancery Court, 11th District, Chattanooga Class of 2017 (12 clerkships) Federal Appellate Courts Judge Timothy B. Dyk, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (2017–18) Judge Judith W. Rogers, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2018–19) Judge Kent A. Jordan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Wilmington, Delaware (2018–19)

“Clerking is far and away the best way to start your legal career. Being able to read hundreds of legal briefs, draft opinions and orders, and work directly with a judge gives you experience you simply cannot get anywhere else. I’ve learned what works at oral argument, how to write an effective motion, and what matters to judges when they sit down to decide cases.”

KYLE ROBISCH | Class of 2014 Clerk to Judge G. Kendall Sharp of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, 2014–16

Judge James L. Dennis, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans, Louisiana (2017–19) Judge Carolyn Dineen King, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Houston, Texas (2017–18) Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis, Tennessee (2017–18) Judge R. Lanier Anderson III, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Macon, Georgia (2017–18) Federal District Courts Judge Anthony J. Battaglia, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, San Diego (2018–19) Senior Judge Joseph M. Hood, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington (2017–18) Senior District Judge Thomas B. Russell, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah (2017–19)

Judge James K. Bredar, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore (2017–18) Judge James C. Mahan ’73, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Las Vegas (2017–18)

Judge Marcia Morales Howard, ’87, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Judge M. Stephen Hyles, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. ’81, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Judge John T. Nixon ’60, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville

Recent Graduates (12 clerkships) Federal Appellate Courts Judge Robert L. Wilkins, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2017–18) Judge Alice M. Batchelder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Medina, Ohio (2017–18) Judge Adalberto J. Jordan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Miami, Florida

State Courts Judge Robert D. Hawthorne, Colorado Court of Appeals, Denver Judge Kelvin D. Jones, Tennessee Circuit Court, 20th District, Nashville Judge J. Randall Wyatt ’66, Tennessee Criminal Court, 20th District, Nashville

Federal District Courts Judge Richard J. Leon, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Troy L. Nunley, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (2016–18)

Judicial Clerkships Nine Months After Graduation (ABA data) VLS Class

Total Graduates

% Federal Clerks

Rank Among U.S. Law Schools

2015

185

10.3%

10th

2014

194

11.3%

8th

2013

206

9.2%

11th

2012

196

11.7%

8th

2011

198

10.6%

7th

“A clerkship is an invaluable experience for a young attorney. It’s a crash course in many substantive areas of law and in procedure. You see what it looks like to be a good lawyer, and you also gain a mentor and learn how to think and write about the law.”

ADELE EL-KHOURI

| Class of 2013 Clerk to Judge Stephen A. Higginson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 2013–14, and Judge Pamela A. Harris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 2014–15

Learn more about Vanderbilt’s Clerkship Program.

“I can’t imagine a better transition from student to lawyer than a clerkship. Helping my judge resolve actual cases brings everything I learned in law school to life. And it has given me invaluable insight into how cases get decided and what it takes to persuade judges – my target audience in the next phase of my career.”

CAMERON NORRIS | Class of 2014 Clerk to Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 2014–15, and Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 2015–16


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Š 2016 Vanderbilt University Law School

Vanderbilt Law School 2016 Judicial Clerkship Program  
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