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Current Issue : Winter 2007-2008

BLS Places Record Number of Clerks in Federal Circuit Courts Above, L to R: Blake Denton '08, Alida Lasker '07, Anna Burns '08, Erez Davy '05, and Shannon Haley '08 (not pictured: Timothy Sini '05)

Brooklyn Law School is experiencing its most successful clerkship season yet.

Next fall, six future graduates and current alumni will be clerking with federal circuit judges, which places BLS 19th in the country, according to the latest Leiter Report ranking. Three will be working for judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, two for the Eleventh Circuit, and one for the Third Circuit. While BLS has a strong history of placing students with federal judges, this is the largest number yet who will be working in the circuit courts of appeals.

To date, 13 other students have also received offers to clerk with federal district courts, bankruptcy courts, courts of international trade and magistrate judges. "Many judges outside of the New York area are now looking to hire BLS alumni, which reflects well on our students and on the school," says Professor David Reiss, a member of the Judicial Clerkship Committee at the Law School.

Seeking the Prestigious Positions

Federal clerkships — especially with judges who sit on the 13 federal appeals courts — are highly prized by students. Clerks are exposed to the inner workings of the judicial process, as well as strategies and procedures that they will use throughout the rest of their careers as lawyers. As a result, top law firms and corporations, hungry for new lawyers who have experience in judges' chambers, eagerly recruit them. The skills they develop can also help to prepare them for a range of public service work such as positions at prestigious public defenders' and prosecutors' offices, as well as teaching law.

Brooklyn Law School's Judicial Clerkship Committee plays a very active role in assisting students and recent graduates who decide to seek a clerkship. Comprised of junior and senior faculty members as well as the director of the Career Center, the committee helps with the seemingly daunting process of gathering information about potential clerkships and submitting applications to judges throughout the country. More than a year before the clerkships even start, faculty committee members, all of whom are former clerks for federal judges, work one-on-one with students and alumni to help them present the strongest possible applications. In addition, the Committee links current students with Brooklyn Law School's strong and growing network of alumni who clerked with federal judges and are eager to offer mentoring advice during the application process. Career Center staff members work with faculty members to generate letters of recommendation and packages and deliver applications to the judges' chambers.

"I'm grateful beyond measure to the members of the faculty and administration who encouraged me to apply and supported my applications. Without them, this opportunity would not have been possible," says Shannon Haley '08, a third-year BLS student who will be clerking for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

More BLS Students Applying

Increasing numbers of Brooklyn Law School students are applying for the coveted circuit clerkships. "The buzz has increased over the years," says Judicial Clerkship Committee Chair Professor Jason Mazzone. "We've educated the students about the tremendous benefits of clerking, and they are realizing — in record numbers — that it really is the best way to get trained when you are coming out of law school." Mazzone, who clerked for both a Second Circuit judge and a district judge in the Southern District of New York, joined the Clerkship Committee when he came to BLS in 2003, and he has chaired the committee for the past two years.

"Through my work on the committee with students, I've been able to see the strengths they bring from earlier jobs," adds Reiss. "Our student body is so interesting, and that really comes through when you work closely with them." The other members of the Clerkship Committee include Associate Dean for Student Affairs Beryl R. Jones-Woodin, Career Center Director Joan King, and Professors Maryellen Fullerton, Nelson Tebbe, and Cynthia Godsoe.

Standouts in Class and Career

The newest group of federal circuit court clerks from Brooklyn Law School are stand-outs in their class and in their careers. They were all active participants in the community at the Law School, and each one is looking forward to the unique opportunities his or her clerkship will create.

Shannon Haley says she is anticipating "an unparalleled learning experience" with Judge Ralph K. Winter in the Second Circuit. "Clerking is something akin to an advanced degree in law that will build on the exceptional education I have received at Brooklyn Law School," she observes. "It is where the rubber hits the road as far as the law is concerned, providing direct exposure to contemporary legal problems and first-rate legal analysis."

As editor-in-chief of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, Haley published a note in the journal in 2007. At the top of her class, she is a Carswell Scholar who has held a wide variety of jobs while at Brooklyn Law School, including a summer associate position at Allen & Overy in New York; a research assistant job with Professor Joel Gora; and internships for both the Center for Appellate Litigation and the New York City Administration for Children's Services.

Blake Denton '08 will clerk for Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch of the Eleventh Circuit before joining Latham & Watkins, where he has already accepted a position as an associate. "Starting my career with a clerkship will better prepare me for the work of a young associate," he says. "It will also give me a chance to observe the law in action."

Denton, who was a summer associate in Latham & Watkins' New York office, currently serves as an articles editor for the Brooklyn Law Review. He published an article in the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy in 2007. Blake has made the Dean's List each year and is a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. He has interned for the U.S. Attorney's Office and for U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak in the Eastern District of New York.

Echoing the hopes of her classmates, Anna Burns '08 says she is looking forward to participating in the judicial process, reviewing cases and making recommendations to Judge Stanley Marcus of the Eleventh Circuit. "In a way, I will be continuing my academic experience," she says. "While the challenges will be great, I am confident that the skills I've developed during my time at BLS will serve me well."

Burns is executive notes and comments editor for the Law School's Journal of Law and Policy, where she published a note in 2007. She took first place in the national moot court competition in bankruptcy last spring and is a Dean's Recognition Merit Scholar as well. She has worked as a summer associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and interned for U.S. District Court Judge David Trager in the Eastern District of New York and for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

"This year an exceptional group of students and alumni have secured clerkships. They have become much more competitive for these positions."
—Professor Jason Mazzone