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Alabama Law Ranks Top 10 in Federal Clerkships

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Data from the most recent ABA Employment Report show that the Alabama Law Class of 2020 ranks 10th in the nation for federal clerkship placements**. This achievement, and the law school’s prior five year aggregate of a 13th place** national ranking, is the result of intensive recruiting from an Admissions Office that is committed to enrolling increasingly impressive classes of high-achieving students year-over-year; dedicated mentorship from talented professors, many of whom have performed their own clerkships in years past; and a very proactive Career Services Office that is continually helping our students find and prepare for these opportunities. None of which would be possible without the generous donations provided by our Law School alumni and friends. To steal from the proverbial phrase, it has taken a village to come this far.

 

In total, Alabama Law’s Class of 2020 had 15 students who earned federal clerkships and eight additional students who landed state clerkships. Below, a few of these students share their experiences:

 

Anne-Miles Golson headshotAnne-Miles Golson | Clerked for Circuit Judge Andrew Brasher | U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
“Whether I was analyzing briefs, observing seasoned advocates during oral arguments, or reading the Judge’s work, I was constantly learning from some of the best legal minds. I cannot overemphasize the impact that experience has already had or the confidence it has given me as I transition into private practice.”

 

Shontel Stewart HeadshotShontel Stewart | Clerked for Associate Justice Sarah Stewart, Alabama Supreme Court
“I really enjoy clerking because of the relationships that are formed in close-knit chambers. I am grateful that, because of my experiences as a clerk, I will have a tool belt that is fully-equipped for legal practice. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing a published opinion that you drafted quoted and relied upon in future cases.”

 

Atticus Desprospo headshot

Atticus DeProspo | Clerked for Judge L. Scott Coogler, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama | Clerked for Judge Peter W. Hall, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit | Clerked for Judge Steven Menashi, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

“My clerkship experiences provided me with great institutional knowledge that will be helpful as I pursue a career as a litigator—which will require me to leverage these experiences when serving as an advocate for clients. Most importantly, I gained great mentors and role models who have supported and advised me as I make decisions about my legal career moving forward.”

 

Stephanie Arvant headshot

Stephanie Avant | Clerked for Judge Madeline H. Haikala, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

“Not having to do the same thing day in and day out is undersold, because it makes you an outside-the-box thinker and that is what will set you apart from others who graduated with you or even before you.”

 

McGavin Brown headshotMcGavinn Brown | Clerked for U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama | Clerked for Judge Eugene Siler, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
“Clerking has been useful for at least two reasons. For one, it’s given me confidence. I think most new lawyers, me included, have a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of imposter syndrome. Clerking can be a Wizard-of-Oz-like experience; you see that most lawyers—young and old—encounter difficult questions every day, and everyone is just doing their best to figure it out. Second, clerking has given me a chance to improve my writing and research skills. I’m excited to finish this second term and start working with clients of my own. I thank Alabama Law for all of the opportunities it’s afforded me.”

 

Leading With Experience

Because many of the professors at Alabama Law also served as judicial clerks, they understand the importance of these experiences, and they are able to help prepare the next generation of students qualify for these prestigious positions.

Heather Elliott, Alumni, Class of ’36 Professor of Law & Chair of Alabama Law Clerkship Program | Clerked for Judge Merrick Garland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit | Clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States

“As the chair of the Law School’s Clerkship Committee, I am lucky enough to help students find post-graduate clerkships with federal and state judges at all levels. I work closely with Dean Megan Walsh of the Career Services Office and with other faculty to ensure that students are aware of clerkship opportunities and know how best to seek them. I understand how valuable these experiences are, because I was a law clerk: I clerked for then-Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court. Both expected a great deal, but neither sought anything from their clerks that they didn’t demand in triplicate from themselves. Serving as a law clerk taught me how to be a better thinker, a better communicator, and a better person. I delight in helping our law students find opportunities for similar experiences.”

Ronald Krotoszynski headshot

Ronald Krotoszynski, John S. Stone Chairholder of Law & Director of Faculty Research | Clerked for Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

“At Alabama Law, we can teach students the legal rules of the road—but we cannot teach them practical judgment about how those rules work in the real world. In a federal judicial clerkship, a law clerk learns how legal rules, many of which contain more than a little play in the joints, actually map on to particular facts and circumstances. The kind of practical wisdom that a law clerk obtains from working with a federal judge is something that we just cannot replicate in a classroom; it’s a particularly useful, and valuable, way of learning by doing.”

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*These rankings are determined by calculating the percentage of students who earn these positions in a given graduating class.
**Based on aggregate data from the past five published ABA reports.

The University of Alabama School of Law strives to remain neutral on issues of public policy. The Law School’s communications team may facilitate interviews or share opinions expressed by faculty, staff, students, or other individuals regarding policy matters. However, those opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Law School, the University, or affiliated leadership.