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News Posted on August 5, 2013

King Hall Students Gain Skills and Experience in Judicial Externships

More than three dozen King Hall students worked as judicial externs during the summer of 2013, honing their legal research and writing skills and gaining invaluable experience working alongside leading judges and justices in state and federal courts.

"Judicial externships are an excellent way to jumpstart your legal career," said Craig Compton, Assistant Dean of Career Services. "Students acquire a deeper understanding of legal issues as they see the inner workings of a judge or justice's chambers.  They also get the benefit of meeting with the judges and their clerks to learn how they can become better advocates when they go out into practice.  Externships can be a great springboard to career success."

As judicial externs, students conduct legal research and writing to support the work of a judge or a court's staff. They summarize and analyze cases and write bench memoranda, rulings, orders, and opinions. King Hall students typically participate in judicial externships during the summer following their first year, working in courts including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of California, the California Supreme Court, the California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento County Superior Court, San Francisco Superior Court, Santa Clara Superior Court, and many others.

 "It's been a great experience," said Amar Naik '15, an extern with Judge Troy Nunley of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. "Working in a judicial chamber of any kind, you get to see a behind the scenes view of how the court works and how legal decisions are made. You get a perspective you don't normally see in law school. It's also been a tremendous experience in terms of working on my writing skills."

Victoria Wong '15 said that her experience externing with Justice Louis Mauro '87 of the California Courts of Appeal, Third District, has been extremely valuable, strengthening her legal writing and research skills and providing an insider's view of the working of the court.

"I think my favorite part of the experience has been being able to have personal access to Justice Mauro as well as his chambers attorneys," she said. "You learn how judges think about the law, how they make their decisions, and the writing process involved in drafting an opinion. It was also really valuable to observe oral arguments and to learn what judges are looking for when they question the advocates.  It's something you might not pick up on when you do moot court as a student."

Externships can also be valuable in helping students find their career paths, said Martin Freeman '14. Freeman, who was a judicial extern in 2012 with Sacramento Superior Court Judge Judy Hersher '84, is now working as a summer associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and has a circuit court clerkship lined up following graduation with Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

"Going into my summer externship, I didn't really know what I wanted to do," said Freeman. "I came straight to law school from college, and I didn't have a lot of practical experience.  I had thoughts of becoming a criminal lawyer, but working with Judge Hersher in civil law exposed me to another side of the law I hadn't considered, and I realized it was something I really enjoyed. Judge Hersher really stepped into a mentoring role for me and made the externship a great experience."