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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Boyd School of Law Among Top Schools for Graduate Placement in State and Local Judicial Clerkships

The William S. Boyd School of Law was recently named one of the nation’s top schools for graduate placement in judicial clerkships at the state and local level.

According to a June article in U.S. News & World Report, the school ranked sixth, with nearly 20 percent of graduates scoring these coveted positions. The ranking puts the Boyd School of Law well above the national average.

“We’re very pleased,” said Tera Hodge, judicial clerkship & public interest coordinator for the Boyd School of Law. “We like that we’ve created this culture of judicial clerkships and also that our students are well received by the judges. We’re a state law school, so we want state court judges to find that our graduates are qualified and capable. I think this demonstrates that they do think that.”

Judicial clerkships are highly competitive, one-to-two-year, paid positions that provide law school graduates a chance to further develop their skills through real-world experience. By working directly with a judge, clerks strengthen their analytical skills and legal writing abilities while gaining insight into the judicial decision-making process.

Along with its many benefits, Hodge noted that law clerks typically report high job satisfaction.

“They tend to really enjoy the experience because the judge often becomes a mentor for them,” she explained. “They get so much insight into the practical aspects of legal practice, and it helps them figure out which way they want to go as far as their career path and ultimately become better advocates for their clients.”

Boyd graduate Wade Beavers ‘14 compared clerking to an intensive fourth year of law school, only with pay. In addition to developing a solid foundation of legal training post law school, he is hopeful that his own clerkship with Judge Patrick Flanagan of the Second Judicial District Court in Reno will help him make professional connections in Northern Nevada.

“Nearly all judges have deep connections in the legal community where they serve, and many make a point to assist their law clerks in finding long-term employment after the one- or two-year clerkship term is over,” he said.

Beavers has known a number of graduates with clerkships at both the state and federal level, including several who obtained prestigious clerkships with the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s also met students from law schools where clerkships are not such a focal point – he said they're always impressed that he’s going on to be a clerk.

“The career development office did a great job of actively reaching out to me with the right opportunities and advice; and my professors, by and large, did a fantastic job of presenting the law in class in such a way that I could develop the useful, objective analytical skills that are so important in any judicial chambers,” he said. “The Boyd community should be proud that it's been able to make those opportunities available to so many.”

In addition to the programs offered by Boyd to encourage clerkships, Hodge credits the state and local judges.

“By hiring law clerks they’re providing a service to the legal community because they are providing such excellent training and developing better attorneys,” she said.

But clerkships aren’t only great for the school, the community, and its graduates. They also provide great benefits for judges, according to Judge Elissa Cadish of the Eighth Judicial District Court in Las Vegas.

“I couldn’t survive in this job without a law clerk,” she said. “We have a very large caseload and it’s tough to keep up as it is, but I definitely rely on the law clerk to help.” Judge Cadish began her own career clerking for Judge Phillip M. Pro in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, which she described as a great experience. “I learned a lot, and got a great mentor out of the process,” she said. “It helped when I went out to practice as well, understanding the judge’s perspective on things.”

Judge Cadish said she enjoys mentoring her law clerks, teaching them how to practice well and to know what will persuade a judge and what won’t.

“I’d like to think when they go out to practice that they’re better for it,” she said. “They’re better prepared to go to a firm and contribute right away because they know more than someone coming right out of law school.”

When it comes to hiring a clerk, Judge Cadish said she bases her decision on a combination of academics and personality. Since her appointment as a district judge in Nevada in 2007, all of her clerks have come from the Boyd School of Law.

“Some very good people have clerked for me and they’ve all come out of Boyd,” she said. “It’s not that I’ve decided I’m always going to hire Boyd law students; but when it comes down to hiring and I want the best person I can get for the job, each year the best person has been a Boyd graduate.”