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Alumni Spotlight: Tomi Akinmola ’21L Tomi Akinmola is a judicial clerk for the Hon. Jamar K. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

TomiAkinmola-800x533 Alumni Spotlight: Tomi Akinmola '21LTomi Akinmola ’21L

Tomi Akinmola ’21L was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Dacula, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia State University in 2017. Before law school, she interned as a political analyst for local city campaigns. After graduating law school in 2021, Tomi worked as an associate at Wilkinson Stekloff LLP. At the end of 2023, she began clerking for the Honorable Jamar K. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Outside of work, Tomi enjoys reality TV and traveling.

Discuss your career path and how it led you to a clerkship.

I did not know anything about clerkships when I entered law school. Thanks to Professor Brandon Hasbrouck, I learned all about them, and I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue. But by 3L year, I worried that it might be too late for me to obtain one.  I went to a firm, Wilkinson Stekloff LLP in Washington, D.C., after graduating. I worked on an amicus curiae brief with a partner there, and he mentioned clerkships. He noted that many judges hire clerks with post-law school experience, so it is never too late. He was right.

In many ways, this was the best thing for me because after spending some time working, I had a better sense of my own values. I also had the benefit of hearing about my friends’ experiences who had secured clerkships post-graduation. This information gave me a sense of what to expect and what to look for. After doing my own research, I got my short list of judges together and checked to see if anyone in my network knew them. When I asked around about my judge, I consistently heard glowing reviews. My judge was confirmed in early 2023, and my materials were submitted shortly thereafter. I got an e-mail to set up an interview, and the nerves set in. I am grateful that everything worked out, as this clerkship has enriched my professional and personal life in ways I could not expect.

What sort of legal issues do you handle on a day-to-day basis?

I clerk for a district court judge, so he handles dispositive motions, sentencing, hearings, as well as bench and jury trials in civil and criminal cases. Most of my time is spent reviewing motions, conducting legal research, and engaging with the judge on whatever the legal issue is. At the district court level, the types of cases and the legal issues involved are quite varied. I am confronted with issues related to civil procedure pretty much every day, but there is still a wonderful mix of novel issues that keeps things interesting. I have also seen quite a few sentencings and observed two trials (which my co-clerks clerked).

What do you like about your current job?

I really enjoy the exposure and fast paced nature of everything we do. You gain a significant amount of practical knowledge about the legal system in such a short amount of time. I don’t think there is any comparable opportunity. Outside of that, I truly enjoy working with my judge, my co-clerks, and our courtroom staff. They all have different backgrounds, and I learn so much from them because of that. They have also created an incredible atmosphere in chambers. It feels light and open here.

What are some practices you have in your daily life as an attorney to maintain wellness?

Staying in touch with loved ones. I come from a large, close-knit family. I have moved quite a few times, and each time, I find myself far away from those that love and know me the best. Fostering these relationships is what keeps me grounded. Between my parents and my older brother, I am calling or texting at least one of them just about every day. I think it goes without saying that lawyers have a bad habit of letting their occupation consume their lives. My loved ones bring balance, levity, and greater perspective into my life. This allows me to get out of my own head and show up as my best self for others.

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

Legal Research, Legal Writing, and Civil Procedure are certainly the building blocks. However, I would recommend engaging in anything that will allow you to put those skills into practice. I utilized competitions for this. I started with mock trial. Then, at the advice of my dear friend, I tried moot court. I am so glad I listened to her.

With moot court, you are presented with a complex, unsettled question of law. You have to dig into the record, but you cannot just rely on what has been cited. You have to conduct your own independent research and artfully articulate an answer that resolves the issue. This process is not so different from the process you may engage in as a clerk, and the confidence that you develop while competing in any advocacy competition is invaluable.

What advice do you have for prospective law students?

First, embrace the process and remain open. You are embarking on a career as a lifelong learner. Allow yourself to try new things and don’t put too much emphasis on the outcome. Second, do not let others dictate what success looks like to you. Naturally, we are influenced by what our peers or institutions tell us what success looks like. It is a lot easier to block this out when you are firmly rooted in your own values. So take some time to think and write those values down. When you are met with opportunities, ask yourself how this opportunity aligns with your values. Your path is yours alone. Life is too short to chase one that does not fit.

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Outside of Work


I recently picked up barre. While it is challenging, I feel stronger already!

Book Recommendation

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. One read is simply not enough. It continues to teach me so much about my own identity and the world around me.

Favorite Travel Location

So far, Southeast Asia.