Career Paths: Katie Pauly ’22L Katie Pauly will be working as a clerk on the Montana Supreme Court after graduation.
Katie Pauly graduated from Miami University with a major in English literature, a co-major in Entrepreneurship, and a minor in Spanish in 2019. Katie spent her 1L summer interning for Judge Michael McHenry and Chief Judge William Bain in Colorado Springs. She spent her second summer virtually interning for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. At W&L she served as the At Large Law Justice on the Student Judicial Council, and she is a Lead Online Editor for the Law Review.
Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?
I will be working in Helena, Montana following graduation. I will be clerking for Justice Jim Rice on the Montana Supreme Court.
Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to clerk?
I did not know that I wanted to clerk when I started law school. I originally thought I wanted to begin practicing immediately after graduation, but after my time clerking for Judge McHenry and Judge Bain, I realized that clerking post-grad would be an amazing opportunity.
Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?
My experience in chambers deeply impacted my decision to apply for clerkships. I really enjoyed seeing the diverse cases that came before the two judges. My favorite part of clerking was being able to talk with my judges and understand their legal reasoning and analysis. It’s such a unique experience to get to hear the thoughts behind decisions, even decisions that seem minor throughout the trial. It’s an invaluable learning opportunity that I wanted to have again.
What classes do you think are helpful to prepare for this job?
Perhaps more than one particular class, I think it’s helpful to take a wide range of classes in order to prepare for a clerkship. Having even a modest exposure to both civil and criminal material is extremely helpful for navigating a clerkship. Additionally, I think that oral advocacy classes and extracurriculars like mock trial are very helpful. While researching and writing are undoubtedly important, judges often want to hear your thoughts and arguments about cases. Being able to articulate your ideas in concise and persuasive manners is extremely important and will be invaluable in a clerkship.
Can you describe the job search process?
I applied to federal clerkships and a few state supreme court clerkships. I applied to the federal clerkships in June, and I then turned my attention to state supreme court clerkships. When I hadn’t heard anything by October, I figured I would need to start exploring other opportunities, but I received an email from Justice Jim Rice asking to set up an interview just a few days later. I was actually studying abroad in Ireland at the time, so we had a virtual interview from Montana to Dublin, and I was offered the position. Of all of my applications, I never expected to receive an offer from one of the paper packets I mailed in, but it goes to show that sometimes the time and energy it takes to submit a paper application can pay off.
What are you most looking forward to about this job?
I am really looking forward to conversations between myself and my judge as well as the other law clerks. Additionally, I am excited to play even a small part in impacting the lives of those who come before the court as well as the law produced through the court cases.