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    09.06.18 Brooklyn Law School Graduates Receive Prestigious Clerkships at the NY State Court of Appeals
    Scales of justice

    Clerking at the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York State, is an exceptional accomplishment for any lawyer. That honor has recently been given to five Brooklyn Law School graduates: Julia Herd ’95 is the principal law clerk to Judge Paul Feinman; James Allen ’18 and Trevor Halsey ’17 are Court of Appeals’ central staff court attorneys; Rebecca Gannon '14 is clerking for Judge Jenny Rivera; and Kerry Fulham ’15 just completed her term as senior law clerk to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in August.

    “It’s no small accomplishment to have such an impressive concentration of alumni working in the highest court in the state,” said Interim Dean Maryellen Fullerton. “This is a noteworthy achievement for Brooklyn Law School and a testament to the quality of education that they receive here. Credit is also due to the Clerkship Committee and to the Office of Career & Professional Development, which work diligently with our students to prepare them for judicial clerkships and to support them in the clerkship process.”

    The impressive number of graduates who find their way to clerkships is reflective of the rich learning experience at the Law School. Each academic year, the Law School’s robust externship program places about 100 students in judicial chambers, exposing them to highly valuable experience of clerking, and preparing them to hit the ground running if they then obtain a post-graduate clerkship. For example, Herd, who was on the Journal of International Law, did a semester-long externship in Judge Carol Bagley Amon’s chambers in the Eastern District; Fulham, who was on Law Review, did two judicial externships—one with Judge Joseph Bianco in the Eastern District of New York (Islip), and a second with Judge Paul Gardephe in the Southern District of New York. 

    In addition to her externship experience, Fulham said her New York Civil Practice course with Professor Jayne Ressler was instrumental to her work on the Court. “That class provided the nuts and bolts of litigation in New York State, which was not only extremely beneficial to me when I was at Simpson Thatcher, where I worked before clerking, but also here at the Court,” she said.

    Brooklyn Law School students also have the benefit of working with the Office of Career & Professional Development’s Tamara Stephen, who advises and mentors students supporting them in their efforts to attain these coveted positions.

    Halsey says that his Brooklyn Law education has been a great asset to his work. “I think Brooklyn prepares you very well for a job like this,” he said. “I had many professors who challenged me to think deeper about issues. And through our externship program, I had the opportunity to intern with the Appellate Division First Department, which was invaluable experience given what I now do.”

    Rebecca Gannon, who began her clerkship this fall, previously clerked for a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York for two years. She has since been working at Appellate Advocates, as a public defender at the appeals level, representing indigent people who have been convicted of crimes. “I wanted to gain more experience and knowledge of New York law and see the evolution of common law up close,” she said. “I recognize that I am exceptionally lucky to have such an opportunity.”

    Judge DiFiore’s clerk, Kerry Fulham, who returned to her job as an associate at Simpson Thatcher at the end of August, said being on the New York State Court of Appeals put her in a unique position that not all clerkships provide. “The job of the clerk is to be able to sift through the legal arguments presented by the parties and make a sound recommendation to the Judge. I feel truly privileged to be able to help craft the law in New York State.” 
    She has also enjoyed the perspective of building bridges between opposing viewpoints. “I’ve been able to truly experience the collegiality of the Court,” she said. “As an appellate court, we need four judges to be in the majority.  It's my job as a clerk to communicate with the clerks for the other judges and try to build some consensus. Hopefully, together, we can arrive at the right result for the case currently in front of us, priming the way for the next case down the road.”

    Halsey, who is a central staff attorney for the Court for a two-year term ending August 2019, has a slightly different role than Fulham’s. As a central staff court attorney, he reviews leaves to appeal and questions of jurisdiction and makes recommendations on whether the Court should hear a case. “It’s a lot of research and writing, and it is also a position that allows me to interact with all the judges and other staff attorneys, which has been an amazing experience,” he said.

    Herd, who graduated from the Law School in 1995, has spent 22 years clerking for Judge Feinman, moving with him from criminal court, to civil court, to Supreme Court, the Appellate Division, and in 2017, to the Court of Appeals. For Herd, the career path has been ideal. “Each time I’ve felt like I may be ready to do something new, the judge has moved to a new court,” she said. “The Court of Appeals is a very demanding court. While there are fewer cases than the Appellate Division, the amount of work for each case is much more intense.” 

    Allen, who began his work on the Court’s Central Legal Research Staff in the fall, is thrilled to join fellow alumni in Albany. “I am looking forward to joining a really smart group of people and am really thinking of it as a place where I can play an important role early, all while learning a lot about research and writing,” he said. “I have always wanted to work in the “third branch” and think working in the judiciary is important for young graduates so they have the chance to learn from more-experienced lawyers.”

    The camaraderie of working with other Brooklyn graduates is something that makes the experience even more meaningful. “It's amazing to work with Trevor on the central staff in Albany and Julia in Judge Feinman's chambers,” said Fulham. “I feel very grateful for my time at Brooklyn and truly honored to be able to represent Brooklyn, alongside Trevor and Julia, during my time at the Court.”

     

    WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Alumni of the Court of Appeals

    Graduate Name

    Position

    Current Job

    Jonathan Karmel '98

    Clerk to Hon. Howard Levine

    Department of Health (Albany)

    Meredith Miller '00

    Central Staff Attorney

    Prof of Law Touro College, Jacob Fuchsberg Center of Law

    Jonathan Bernstein '02

    Central Legal Research Staff

    Goldberg Segalla LLP in Albany

    Kristin Mattiske '03

    Central Staff Attorney

    Perry, Johnson, Anderson, Miller & Moskowitz LLP

    Anne Reddy Edinger '05

    Clerk to Hon. Judith Kaye

    Greenberg Traurig

    David Giller '14

    Clerk to Hon. Jenny Rivera

    Paul Weiss