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Career Paths: Babatunde Cadmus ’15L

Babatunde Cadmus ’15L attended college at the University of Delaware and received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology. At W&L Law, he served as editor in chief of the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice during the 2014-2015 school year.  This past year, he spent a significant portion of his time representing indigent clients in misdemeanor cases through the Criminal Justice Clinic.  Upon graduation, he will join the law firm of Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia as an associate.

tunde Career Paths: Babatunde Cadmus '15LBabatunde Cadmus ’15L

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area, if you know?

I will be working at the Philadelphia office of Pepper Hamilton LLP.  I don’t know which practice area I will be placed in yet.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a big law firm?

No.  I actually came to law school wanting to go into criminal defense, as I was a Criminal Justice major in college.  But classes like Contracts, Civil Procedure, CBA and Publicly Held exposed me to the civil law side, and I developed an interest in civil litigation and business law.  I knew that big law firms generally do this kind of work, so I pursued that career.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for a BigLaw job, and when would you recommend taking them?

First year courses like Civil Procedure, Contracts, Torts and APLP are all helpful.  I would also recommend taking CBA, and Publicly Held during the 2L year.  If someone is interested in a specific niche of business law, such as bankruptcy, corporate taxation, or antitrust, I would recommend taking those courses as well.

Can you describe your job search process?

After my 2L year, I interviewed for my summer position with Pepper Hamilton through W&L’s summer regional interview program in Charlottesville.  I generally applied broadly, but restricted my geographical area to the mid-Atlantic region.  In addition to the school’s regional interview program, I applied to firms through OCI and various job fairs and interview programs not affiliated with W&L.  I generally applied to firms that had at least a few W&L alumni as attorneys.  I also targeted firms with large and reputable litigation departments.  I started the process of applying to law firms-which began with perfecting my resume and cover letters-in December of my 1L year.  After that, I kept applying to different firms all through the spring semester and during the summer.

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Career Paths: Sarah Curry ’15L

Sarah Curry ’15L graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 with a B.A. in International Relations and French. She then spent three years as a Program Manager and then C.O.O. of an African development charity. Upon graduation, she will join the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York.

sarahcurry Career Paths: Sarah Curry '15LSarah Curry ’15L

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?

I will be working for Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ Capital Markets practice group in their NYC office.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a big law firm?

I have always wanted to go BigLaw. Even if you don’t want to stick with it long term (most people don’t), getting a few years’ experience in a big, national or multi-national firm opens up all kinds of doors down the road.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this choice?

Anyone who has worked as a summer associate in a big city will tell you that it is one of the best experiences of your life. Though the summer programs may not be all that representative of what life is really like as an associate at a big firm, it still affords you the opportunity to try out different practice areas while also getting to meet all of your future colleagues. My summer at Weil was amazing to say the least and I have no doubts that I made the right choice.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for a BigLaw job?

This is a tough question. It is one that I asked a number of associates and partners during my internship–and everyone had a different answer. I think the consensus is that if you want to go into transactional work, you need to take some basic business law classes (CBA, Publicly Held, Tax, etc.) and if you’re going into litigation, it helps to take anything to do with evidence, civil procedure, etc. Of course, if you’re going into a specialized area of the law such as bankruptcy, tax, or the like, take as many targeted classes as possible. Going into capital markets, I was told that as long as I had Securities and CBA under my belt, I was set.

Can you describe your job search process?

I got my summer associate position through the regional OCI interview program. I focused my search on DC and NYC, but realized fairly early on in the process that I was better suited for New York. Before applying for the OCI interviews, I made sure to speak with at least one alum from each firm that I was applying to. The problem with applying for big-law jobs is that pretty much all of the big firms do the exact same kind of work and have the exact same kinds of clients. It’s not enough to write a cover letter or walk into an interview and say that you want to work at X firm because they have interesting, top-tier clients and do amazing work, because that could be true of any of the top firms in the country. What is most important is to figure out what the firm thinks sets itself apart from the rest. Being able to show that you’ve done your homework and really tried to learn about a firm’s inner-workings will help a lot when it comes to your interviews.

When deciding between firms, it all came down to personality for me. If you’re going to spend 80-90% of your waking life in an office, you’d better be in an office with people that you genuinely like. I was far too focused on things like Vault rankings at first, but I really don’t think that that’s the way to go. Find a firm with practice groups that you’re interested in and people that you like spending time with. If the work is fascinating and the people are awesome, life is going to be much easier down the road.

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Career Paths: Austin Lomax ’15L

Austin Lomax ’15L is a 3L from Tryon, North Carolina. He served as a Lead Articles Editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review and as a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic. For his 1L summer, Austin was a summer associate at Talcott Franklin P.C. and at Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLP. He spent his 2L Summer at Alston & Bird LLP and Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLP. Upon graduation, he will join Alston & Bird in Atlanta.

austinlomax Career Paths: Austin Lomax '15LAustin Lomax ’15L

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area, if you know?

I will be at Alston & Bird, LLP in Atlanta, GA starting this fall. I accepted an offer in their Litigation and Trial Practice group.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a big law firm?

Yes, I did. I worked at a large law firm for a summer before coming to W&L and was drawn to the atmosphere.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed that choice?

Working as a summer associate at A&B made me confident in my decision to accept their offer. I decided that it was the right place for me because of all the different people I met that summer, rather than just the legal work. If I hadn’t meshed well with the partners and associates who worked there, I would have explored different options.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for a BigLaw job, and when would you recommend taking them?

Law school is geared toward litigation. Most of the classes 1L and 2L year are centered around case law, research, and writing, yet a majority of BigLaw jobs have nothing to do with litigation. While I ended up pursuing litigation, many of my summer classmates took offers in corporate/transactional fields, and they will probably never access Westlaw again after graduation. So, in your 2L year, I would recommend trying to take transactionally-based classes like Publicly Held Businesses, Securities, and Federal Income Tax. For 3L year, I would recommend tailoring your schedule based on what you are trying to do after graduation. For example, if you know you want to do Corporate transactions, take the M&A practicum instead of Complex Litigation. We are lucky that W&L lets you specialize a little more in your 3L compared to other law schools.

Can you describe your job search process?

I narrowed it down by geography. I knew I wanted to be in the South, so I had three callback interviews in Charlotte and one in Atlanta through OCIs. Through these interviews, I realized that A&B was the best match for me, mainly based on the personalities of the different people I met. If you know you want to be in a big law firm, I would recommend trying to find a firm based on where you want to live geographically and firm culture. Most large law firms have practice groups that cover virtually everything, and the practice group you end up in usually depends more on who you get along with the best than your preconceived notions about that area of law. No matter how much you may like a particular type of law a particular firm practices, you won’t be happy unless you also like the people. I can’t emphasize this enough.

As far as the search process, I consider myself exceedingly lucky to get a job solely through OCIs. There are just way too many law students across the country competing for such a small number of jobs to count on making it through the OCI process. If I were to do the process over again, I would have made sure to spend my 1L summer in Atlanta (or wherever I decided I wanted to be geographically) so that I could network with alumni. Your chances at getting a BigLaw job greatly improve if you can somehow manage to get an interview in July before your 2L year, because the law firms have not yet started their countrywide tour for on campus interviews. The best way to do this is to have an alum give their recruiting team your resume and vouch for you.

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Career Paths: Mac Mackie ’15L

Mac Mackie ’15L is from Charlotte, N.C. originally and received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Between undergrad and law school, he worked in the publishing industry as an editor and then a literary agent. He is married to Parker Mackie, his obsessions include Tar Heel basketball and Sherlock Holmes, and he looks forward to moving to Washington, D.C. next year.

macmackie Career Paths: Mac Mackie '15LMac Mackie ’15L

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area, if you know?

I will be working at Covington & Burling LLP in their Washington, D.C. office. While Covington does not require a commitment to particular practice groups, I hope to practice within the areas of commercial litigation and international arbitration.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a big law firm?

I harbored no aspirations to work for a big law firm coming into law school; to the contrary, I could never have even imagined it. I had been working in the publishing industry and assumed that that is where I would stay after law school, only with a more legal role within the industry.

What happened during law school that changed your mind?

I realized almost immediately after entering law school that the core skills that are inherent to a good lawyer (specifically a litigator) are similar to those that attracted me to publishing in the first place: an analytical eye applied to the written word, rhetoric and persuasiveness, the ability to gauge what will please a particular audience, and simple communication skills in general. Honing those skills during my 1L year only reinforced that realization, at which point I began to actually like how those skills applied to lawyering better than they applied to publishing. In other words, much to my surprise, I found being a lawyer to be more enjoyable and intellectually challenging than anything I had done previously. For me it was simply a matter of personal fulfillment and enjoyment – for whatever reason, I thoroughly enjoy the law, its application to everyday and real problems, and, when compared to publishing, can imagine myself thriving in the professional legal atmosphere more readily than the publishing environment.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for a BigLaw job, and when would you recommend taking them?

Personally, the classes most helpful for me have been those that have focused on researching and writing. I believe I observed the biggest separation between W&L students and students from other law schools to be in the ability to quickly and thoroughly research a topic and narrow down those issues that matter. In that respect, my legal writing classes prepared me in a similar manner; thanks to those classes, I was able to communicate (or at least I like to think that I was able to communicate) that research effectively and succinctly. At the end of the day, those are the skills that, I believe, carried me the farthest.

As to what classes I think are most helpful for general “BigLaw” jobs, I think the answer to that question depends entirely on the practice area in which the student is interested. For example, Federal Courts and Jurisdiction or Conflicts of Law would be beneficial to those interested in litigation, whereas Close Business Arrangements and Securities Regulation would be more beneficial to one interested in transactional work. I took a healthy balance of those two types of classes as early as possible so that I could figure out for myself what I thought I enjoyed more and what area seemed more amenable to my particular strengths and weaknesses.

Can you describe your job search process?

I applied very broadly because of the relative volatility of the legal market in recent years.  That said, I generally applied only to firms with strong litigation departments because I had narrowed my focus at least that much by the time I had begun applying. If a firm had a strong international practice, it certainly piqued my interest even more, but I did not allow that factor to restrict my approach. In talking with a number of successful attorneys during the application and feeling-out process, one theme continued to reinforce itself: many of the most successful people I spoke with never intended to enter and never considered the practice of the type of law they ended up specializing in. So, I approached the process with a very open mind, trying not to rule too much out for fear of making a wrong decision based on insufficient information.

As for timing, I affirmed my aspirations for “BigLaw” only by the end of my 1L year. While that may sound early, many come into law school knowing that’s what they want to do and start tailoring their experiences towards that end from the outset. I was not one of those people. Luckily, however, I did come to that conclusion by the end of my 1L year – I say “luckily” because that is when applications start rolling out for the bigger firms. By the time I had barely started my 1L summer internship with a judge, I think I had most of my applications in for interviews with 2L summer firms that had signed up for W&L’s on-campus or on-location interview programs. I continued to apply to other firms throughout the summer after my 1L year that had not elected to be a part of those programs, but the interview programs arranged through W&L ended up yielding a number of results for me before I heard back from those ad hoc applications. I was fortunate enough to have a 2L summer associateship lined up with Covington right about when our 2L classes started.

The decision to work at Covington was based largely on my gut. At the time, I told myself I focused on three primary factors: (1) geographic location, (2) practice strengths, and (3) the people/culture. But looking back, I think the decision may have boiled down to instincts more than anything else. Of course, those instincts incorporated those three categories, but I really just asked myself where, after meeting all of the people, seeing the offices, and doing as much research as possible, I thought that I, personally, would be the happiest. After spending a summer there, I have no doubt that I made the right choice for me. So, my final advice for anyone going through the same decision process would be to ignore the outside voices, commentators, and critics, and to just do what you think will make you the happiest and most successful, always keeping in mind that each person has a different definition of what it means to be “successful.”

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Career Paths: Meg Sawyer ’15L

Meg Sawyer ’15L is a third year law student from Columbia, Maryland. She serves as one of the Executive Editors of the Washington and Lee Law Review and she is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. Meg spent her 1L summer as a judicial intern for a Senior United States District Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia and she spent her 2L summer in Charleston, South Carolina working as a summer associate for K&L Gates. 

megsawyer Career Paths: Meg Sawyer '15LMeg Sawyer ’15L

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area, if you know?

After graduation, I’ll be working at K&L Gates in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ll be a member of the firm’s litigation team, working primarily in the area of labor and employment law.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a big law firm?

I did not know that I wanted to work for a big law firm coming into law school. At the time, I thought I would ultimately choose to work for a small-to-medium sized firm.

What experiences in law school changed your mind?

Part of what led me to a big firm was the recruitment process. The school’s OCI opportunities make it really easy to access big law jobs, whereas smaller firms are often more difficult to find. Big law firms also open the door to more locations and more practice areas. Going into my 2L year, I was still unsure as to what kind of law I wanted to practice, but I knew that by working at a big law firm over the summer, I would have the opportunity to try a myriad of different practice areas.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for a BigLaw job, and when would you recommend taking them?

I would recommend taking some of the more business-oriented classes available at W&L. Even if you don’t plan on doing corporate work, it helps to have a general understanding of this type of law because it tends to pop up in a lot of other practice areas. Even if you plan to do litigation, it helps to have a background in business so that you can follow discussions and understand the terminology. I particularly recommend taking Close Business Arrangements (CBA) and Publicly Held Businesses. I would also consider Accounting and Finance for Lawyers.

Can you describe your search process?

I started the application process for big law jobs in June of my 1L summer. When I applied for these jobs, I specifically targeted the Southeast, so I focused on cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston. I targeted this region mainly because I wanted to live in the Southeast, but also because the name “W&L” carries a lot of weight in this region. Most partners at firms in the South are familiar with Washington and Lee and appreciate the school’s strong academic reputation. I ultimately decided to work for K&L Gates in Charleston because of the great location and the size of the office. K&L Gates is an international firm, so it’s one of the larger law firms in the world. But the Charleston, SC office is on the smaller side (40 or so attorneys) so you get the best of both worlds: big law resources and projects with a more intimate office environment.

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Career Paths: Nigel Wheeler ’15L

Nigel Wheeler ’15L is a third year student at Washington and Lee Law. He has worked as a broadcast journalist, played with an internationally-touring rock band, and has volunteered for several years at the Family Place, a domestic violence shelter. He is headed to Dallas to do real estate law at Bracewell and Giuliani.

nigelwheeler Career Paths: Nigel Wheeler '15LNigel Wheeler ’15L

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area, if you know?

I will be working at the Dallas, TX office of Bracewell and Giuliani. My main practice area will be real estate, but I will also spend time in the public finance and corporate securities groups.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a big law firm?

Not really. I came into law school with an open mind about what I ultimately wanted to do. In the summer prior to my 1L year, I met with some incredible Washington and Lee alums who told me a lot about firm life. It sounded like a solid career path. Their advice coupled with a great opportunity during my 1L summer was ultimately what propelled me into the law firm track.

What experiences during law school helped you make up your mind about a career path?

My experience as a summer associate at Bracewell is what ultimately solidified my desire to work at a large law firm. Even as a summer associate, I received tremendous advice on how to be an effective and successful lawyer. I also really liked the people I was working under and realized it was the type of environment that would help me grow and learn as an attorney.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for a Big Law job, and when would you recommend taking them?

CBA, Secured Transactions, Real Estate, Securities, Advanced Secured Transactions and Federal Income Tax are all very useful if you are going into the transactional side. I took some of those classes during my second and third year.

Can you describe your job search process?

My search process began before law school even started. I started meeting with W&L alumni during the spring before I entered law school.

I decided on Bracewell after spending two great summers there. The work was incredibly difficult at times, but because of the spirit of mentorship that is fostered at Bracewell, I never felt overwhelmed. The firm’s social events really hammered home my desire to work there because the events were a lot of fun and allowed me to interact with the firm’s lawyers in a social context.

I knew I wanted to go to Dallas even before I entered law school. I have a strong friend base there and have invested a lot of time with civic organizations in the area. Additionally, Dallas is one of a handful of cities where salaries are high and the cost of living is reasonable. There is also a growing alumni base in Dallas and I have a feeling it will expand significantly over the next decade.

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Career Paths: Stephen Halpin ’15L

Stephen Halpin ’15L, from Rockville, MD, is a graduate of the University of Virginia. For the past year Steve has served as a judicial extern and Editor in Chief of the Washington and Lee Law Review. After graduation, he will clerk for the Honorable Robert B. King on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

stevehalpin Career Paths: Stephen Halpin '15LStephen Halpin ’15L

Who will you be clerking for, and what will your responsibilities be?

In August I will begin as a term clerk for Judge King on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In general, my responsibilities will encompass whatever I can do to serve the Judge, my fellow clerks, and others in chambers. I expect to perform significant amounts of legal writing and research.

Why are you interested in clerking after graduation?

Having worked as a paralegal for two years prior to enrolling at W&L, I thought it might be beneficial to gain experience outside the law-firm setting during my first summer. I was fortunate enough to land a summer internship with a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., and had a fantastic time in chambers working with the clerks and other interns, observing the Judge on the bench, and hearing his take on effective forms of advocacy.  I ultimately hope to focus on litigation, and that first summer opened my eyes to how valuable it is for an advocate to appreciate the perspective of an impartial decision maker when appearing in court. Relatedly, researching and discussing complex questions of law in order to help a judge make difficult decisions with practical consequences strikes me as one of the most challenging and fascinating undertakings a lawyer can experience.

How did you secure this clerkship?

The Clerkship Committee at the law school informed me that Judge King had hired W&L graduates in the past and my mother’s family is from Charleston, WV, where the Judge maintains his chambers. I called chambers to ask if the Judge was accepting applications and subsequently submitted my materials.

Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for clerking?

In addition to required courses such as Constitutional Law, I believe electives I took during my second year will prove particularly helpful during my clerkship. Specifically, I completed courses in Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure (frequently known as Federal Courts), Criminal Procedure, and Conflict of Laws. I had incredibly knowledgeable, engaging professors for each, and believe completing these classes will stand me in good stead next year.  In terms of experiences, my time on Law Review has been invaluable for developing my writing, editing, and collaborative skills. Additionally, W&L’s third-year program has provided a number of enriching opportunities. Since September I have externed for a federal district judge two days a week and in the fall I completed a practicum course on appellate advocacy taught by the current Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. I think these experiences will help me transition to my clerkship.

How is clerking linked to your career objectives?

Judge King brings tremendous breadth of legal experience to the bench. I am excited to assist him however I can and hopefully forge the kind of special bond that I have heard so many clerks–whether at the trial level, the appellate level, in state or federal court–speak fondly of when discussing their experiences. Wherever my legal career takes me, I am confident the skills I develop and the feedback I receive from Judge King over the course of my clerkship will make me a better lawyer.

What are you most looking forward to about this clerkship position?

I am most looking forward to helping and learning from Judge King and my fellow clerks while grappling with some of the most intricate and nuanced legal questions that arise in our country. For the vast majority of litigants in federal court who cannot resolve their disputes, a circuit court of appeals is their final stop for relief. I look forward to assisting the Judge in ensuring those parties are carefully and thoughtfully heard.

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Career Paths: Risa Katz ’15L

Risa Katz grew up in Denver, Colorado. She attended Colorado College for her undergraduate degree, where she majored in anthropology and minored in art history.

katz Career Paths: Risa Katz '15LRisa Katz ’15L

Who will you be clerking for, and what will your responsibilities be?

I’ll be clerking for the 5 judges of the 23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia, which includes the City of Roanoke, the County of Roanoke, and the City of Salem. I’ll be reviewing cases, drafting bench memos, drafting preliminary opinions, assisting with research on both issues of fact and matters of law, and so on.

Why are you interested in clerking after graduation?

It’s a great opportunity to keep learning in a more practical environment. You get to watch different people handle things with different styles and see what works well and what doesn’t work as you start to develop your own style. It also gives you the opportunity to look at legal matters from a unique perspective. As a lawyer you’re usually in an advocate’s role. As a clerk (or a judge) your role is neutral. The goal isn’t to advance anyone’s interests but to find the right answer–to serve justice. It’s a different way to look at things and I hope it helps me to see the opposing side more clearly later in my career when I am in an advocacy role.

How did you secure this clerkship?

Good timing I suspect. I happened to be externing in the City Courthouse and one of the clerks mentioned that they were doing their interviews the next week. I applied, was interviewed, and am very lucky to get to spend a full year learning from them. I’ve already learned so much just going one day a week.

Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for clerking?

The externship and associated class about how to be a more useful law clerk has been very helpful in a lot of ways. We’ve discussed ethical issues fairly unique to judges and clerks, drafted opinions and memos (which are somewhat different than advocacy style memos done as lawyers), shared interesting experiences, etc. And because the clerkship class is taught by a retired judge, it’s helpful to get to hear his perspective of some of the things that clerks have done right and wrong over the years.

How is clerking linked to your career objectives?

Well, it certainly lines you up to network and get to know a legal market if you’re looking to stay there. It also gives you exposure to a lot of substantive law and writing experience that you might not otherwise have. And it can give you the chance to try a few different types of law at once for a year before you have to really narrow down what you want to do.

What are you most looking forward to about this clerkship position?

Probably getting to contribute meaningfully to the judicial system I plan to dedicate my life to serving within. I’m very aware that as a lawyer, I can only represent my client and can only try to effectuate their interests and the interests of justice as long as there is a judicial system in place filled with judges, clerks, support staff, sheriffs, and so on ready. Because I plan to be a part of that system for years, there’s a lot of appeal in the idea of serving in it now–giving back a fraction of what I hope to get for my clients in the future: the dedicated focus and time of decision-makers and their support staff to ensure that the judgments made are proper and in the interests of justice. That type of public service is very personally fulfilling for me.

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Career Paths: Garrett Rice ’15L

Garrett Rice is a 2012 graduate of Lafayette College and is originally from Mercersburg, PA. He is involved in the law school as a Law Review editor and as a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. He spent his 1L and 2L summers working for Steptoe & Johnson PLLC and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, respectively.

rice Career Paths: Garrett Rice '15LGarrett Rice ’15L

Who will you be clerking for, and what will your responsibilities be?

I will be clerking on the Delaware Supreme Court for Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. I will primarily assist Chief Justice Strine in preparing for oral arguments and drafting opinions. I’m also looking forward to helping with any law review articles or other academic projects that are available.

Why are you interested in clerking after graduation?  

Not only does a clerkship look fantastic on a resume, but it will give me tremendous exposure to substantive law that I might not otherwise get right out of law school. Additionally, I will have the unique opportunity to have a front row seat in seeing how some of the nation’s most important corporate law cases are ultimately decided.

How did you secure this clerkship?  

I began applying for clerkships in February of my 2L year and had my first interview by March. The Office of Career Strategy gave me amazing advice throughout the application process, from helping me choose what clerkships to apply for to ensuring that my recommendation letters were on time and properly addressed. The clerkship committee was another invaluable resource, helping me to evaluate my chances of landing particular clerkships and preparing me via a mock clerkship interview. I also met with a few of my professors regularly to keep them updated on the status of my search and to get their opinions on what judges I might be a good fit with. Finally, I spoke with multiple W&L alumni and 3L students who had worked for courts and judges that I was interested in clerking for. Each of them was really excited to talk with me and gave me tips that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for clerking?  

Two experiences have been absolutely crucial in preparing me to clerk at the appellate level. First, I currently extern for Judge Robert B. King on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. By working with Judge King and his clerks, I am getting a true sneak peak at how an appellate chambers operates, as well as what role a law clerk serves. Second, I am taking W&L’s appellate advocacy practicum, which is taught by the Virginia Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Lemons.

How is clerking linked to your career objectives?  

Generally speaking, clerking is closely tied with my goal to be a litigator. But clerking on the Delaware Supreme Court is more specifically linked with my career goal of litigating corporate law cases. The opportunity to clerk for Chief Justice Strine, especially given his former position as Chancellor on the Delaware Court of Chancery, fits perfectly with my ambitions as a practicing attorney.

What are you most looking forward to about this clerkship position?

I’m excited to be a sponge and really soak in both the substantive law and lawyering skills that I’m exposed to. Beyond that, I am looking forward to learning from both Chief Justice Strine and the other justices. I anticipate improving my legal writing skills and my ability to think critically about difficult legal issues.

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Career Paths: Hernandez Stroud ’15L

An alumnus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University Pennsylvania, and Teach for America, Hernandez Stroud is currently an extern for the Honorable Robert S. Ballou of the Western District of Virginia. After graduation, Stroud will clerk for U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala of the Northern District of Alabama.

hstroud Career Paths: Hernandez Stroud '15LHernandez Stroud ’15L

Who will you be clerking for, and what will your responsibilities be?

I will be clerking for U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala of the Northern DIstrict of Alabama. She presides primarily in Birmingham, though she also handles cases in Huntsville. My responsibilities will include researching, writing, making recommendations, and helping to manage chambers.

Why are you interested in clerking after graduation?

I am interested in clerking because of its profound benefits. There is no comparable opportunity, as I understand, where an attorney, new or experienced, is able to spend an entire year or more perfecting writing, observing good lawyering (as well as poor advocacy), and being under the wing of a judge.

How did you secure this clerkship?

I developed an early interest in clerking while at W&L. Thus, I was strategically thoughtful about classes and experiences in which I engaged. After carefully preparing my application over several months during my second year of law school, I submitted it, interviewed, and was offered the clerkship over the telephone.

Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for clerking?

Although I credit several experiences, I primarily attribute two for my successfully securing a federal clerkship: first, in taking three classes with Professor Massie, she helped me significantly strengthen my legal writing. She met frequently with me, where she engaged in line-by-line critiques of my writings, and she did not shy away from being critical. Developing a relationship with Professor Massie was essential to being competitive for the clerkship process. Second, my participation in various school-wide, regional, and national moot court competitions–where a student bears the task of taking an appellate case from start to finish–improved my written and oral advocacy. Arguing before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in W&L’s moot court competition this past year certainly makes for a wonderful clerkship interview story.

How is clerking linked to your career objectives?

First, if I choose to apply for federal circuit clerkships, I believe my district clerkship will no doubt prepare me. As for private practice, I suspect clerking will enable me to enter the profession a better attorney than I otherwise would have, as I will have spent an entire year getting an insider’s view of the judicial process. Likewise, the prestige with which a federal clerkship typically carries for one’s entire legal career is quite extraordinary.

What are you most looking forward to about this clerkship position?

Principally, I am looking forward to spending a year improving my writing, which I imagine will nonetheless be a lifelong endeavor. In addition, my judge is a terrific person, not to mention an incredible legal thinker; as a result, I welcome engaging in a strong, supportive mentoring relationship with my judge.

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