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News Posted on November 16, 2017

Six King Hall Students Land Externships at California Supreme Court

Six UC Davis School of Law students were selected for prestigious judicial externships at the California Supreme Court in the fall of 2017. The number is believed to be King Hall’s highest-ever total at California’s highest court, and includes three students serving as externs with Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye ’84.

Externs and JusticesWorking with the Chief Justice this fall are Emily Lahl ’18, Jane Martin ’18, and Tanvi Shah ’19. Marc Coats ’18 and Shannon McCaffrey ’18 are externing with Justice Goodwin Liu, and Raul Duran ’18 is serving with Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said she has been impressed with the King Hall contingent. “The students are thoughtful, hardworking, inquisitive, and collegial,” she said. “I continue to remain pleased with the high quality of UC Davis law students.”

As judicial externs, King Hall students conduct legal research and writing to support the work of a judge or of a court's central staff, which can include law clerks and staff attorneys. Externs summarize and analyze cases and research legal questions, and often write bench memoranda, rulings, orders, and opinions.

“We include the externs in group meetings with the attorneys, and ask them, ‘how did it look to you?’ Their opinions are well-formed and pretty incisive,” said Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye. “The externs are also present during court and there in the audience. They are engaged—listening and tracking.”

“It’s nice to put everything we’re learning in school to use,” said Martin. “We’re reading cases for the court, and reading briefs, and then deciding what we think the answer should be. We are reviewing petitions, and then talk about them in conference. This experience will inform my brief writing, so I know what the court is looking for.”

Shah said she feels especially fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Chief Justice. “She’s great and very respectful,” Shah said. “After oral argument, she will ask about our opinions and what worked and what didn’t. I’m interested in a career in litigation, so having this kind of insight is helpful to see what it takes to get a case granted and go for oral argument.”

Lahl, who plans to work as a prosecutor after graduation, said that one of the primary benefits of a judicial externship is the opportunity to learn how judges think about cases.

“Everyone wants to know what the judges are thinking, and now I’m behind the scenes to see what happens,” said Lahl. “The magnitude of having this opportunity is awe-inspiring.”

In addition to the California Supreme Court, this fall King Hall students are also externing for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California; the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California; and the Sacramento County Superior Court.