WLALA Members Speak to Law Students About Externship Opportunities in the Federal Courts
by Wendy Chan, Extern to the Honorable Sandra R. Klein
On October 21, 2013, more than one hundred eager law students attended a Federal Judicial Externship Panel (Panel) hosted by Loyola Law School (LLS). The Panel featured three federal judges from the Central District of California: WLALA Board member Hon. Sandra R. Klein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, former WLALA Board and Executive Committee member, Hon. Beverly Reid O’Connell of the U.S. District Court, and WLALA member Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Hon. Suzanne H. Segal. The judges were joined by Angella D. Yates, Law Clerk to the Honorable Neil W. Bason of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, who is involved in LLS’s externship program and serves as a mentor to LLS students seeking judicial externships and clerkships.
The panelists discussed a wide-range of topics, including judges’ selection criteria for externs, the "do’s and don’ts” of interviewing, and the type of work assigned to externs in their respective courts. They also emphasized that externs have the opportunity to observe many different court proceedings.
Judge Segal advised students that the most important thing to get out of their externship is to improve their legal research and writing skills. "It is how lawyers communicate, and it is the most important thing you will do in your career,” she said. Judge O’Connell added, "An externship will teach you to succinctly and persuasively get the attention of the judge.”
In addition to discussing how valuable the experience can be for law students, the panelists also noted that the "fresh perspective” from externs and their enthusiasm for learning are highly appreciated in chambers. Judge Klein, who moderated the event, said that she uses the externship program as a chance to both teach and learn from the students. She also described the high level of staff interaction within chambers and referred to her law clerks and externs as "family.”
The benefits of the externship program were strongly echoed when former externs at the event talked about their own experiences. When asked which aspect of his externship surprised him the most, Joshua Aberman, former extern to Judge O’Connell, replied, "The level of responsibility you get at the start.” Ahree Song, former extern to Judge Klein, said that she was most surprised by how accessible and approachable the judge was. Angella Yates mentioned that externing for a judge can be the first step to a post-graduate judicial clerkship.
The event had a great turnout and was an overwhelming success. It was a truly unique opportunity for law students to hear firsthand how a judicial externship can supplement and enrich their legal education and their legal career.
From left to right: Angella D. Yates, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal, Hon. Sandra R. Klein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and Hon. Beverly Reid O’Connell of the U.S. District Court.