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Career Paths: Benton Morton ’19L

Benton Morton, ‘19L, is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2014 with a degree in History where he was a member of the sailing team. At Washington and Lee, Benton is a Lead Articles Editor for the German Law Journal, a Burks Scholar, and the President of the Tax Law Society. After graduation he will clerk for the Honorable Brian H. Corcoran at the United States Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters.

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

After graduation I will clerk for the Honorable Brian H. Corcoran at the United States Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters. This specialized court adjudicates claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Under this program, people injured by vaccines can sue the United States—specifically the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services—for compensation from the Vaccine Trust Fund. Attorneys from the Department of Justice, Civil Division, Torts Branch defend the United States in the case. Claims adjudicated under this program revolve around medical evidence and expert testimony. After this clerkship I plan to clerk again or pursue a career in public interest.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to clerk?

When I entered law school, I was interested in clerking and wanted to find out more about it. It was always something that was spoken highly of by my family, friends, and mentors who are lawyers. Because of this, clerking has been a goal of mine since my 1L year and something that I have worked towards since the beginning.

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

My experience as a judicial intern for the Honorable Louise W. Flanagan at the Eastern District of North Carolina confirmed my desire to pursue a clerkship. I thoroughly enjoyed the work I performed at the court there and the culture of working with Judge Flanagan and her clerks in chambers. At the court I was engaged and immersed in interesting legal work that was stimulating and important.

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

To me, the classes most helpful to prepare for this job are Civil Procedure, Evidence, and Federal Jurisdiction. I used these classes the most when I interned for Judge Flanagan, and they will provide a fundamental foundation for the work at the Court of Federal Claims. Also, the Public Prosecutors Seminar and my externship at the United States Attorney’s Office have also helped me prepare for work in federal courts.

My legal research and writing classes were also incredibly important. Every internship or externship I have had in law school has hinged on my legal research and writing skills. This clerkship will be no different.

Can you describe your job search process?

I started applying for federal clerkships beginning in August 2018. I ended up having several interviews before landing the position at the Court of Federal Claims in early November. The process was not easy but persistence was key.

The most important part of this process was selecting the judges I was applying to and catering my application materials to those judges. OCS and the professors on the Clerkship Committee were very helpful on this point.

What are you most looking forward to about working at this job?

I am most looking forward to being immersed in the business of the court and learning more about litigation. Working closely with Special Master Corcoran will be an interesting and educating experience. I am also looking forward to learning more about working with medical evidence and expert testimony, in which the court deals heavily.