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April 2, 2010

Decade Old Judicial Clerkship Program Opens Vistas for Nearly 500 Minority Law Students

jjCelebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the ABA Judicial Clerkship Program has over the years acquainted about 500 minority law students from throughout the country with the opportunity and benefits of clerking, says Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan Jr.

“The program has put clerking on the radar screen of hundreds of minority law students, dozens of whom have successfully pursued clerkships,” writes Sullivan in a recent issue of Judges’ Journal, the quarterly magazine of the Judicial Division.

“Many of the leading figures in American law are former clerks,” notes Sullivan in his article, “The ABA Judicial Clerkship Program Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary.” “Indeed, three current members of the Supreme Court are former Supreme Court clerks, and two others clerked in lower federal courts.”

The Judicial Clerkship Program is a joint effort of the ABA Judicial Division and the Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. The three-day program brings together around 90 minority law students nationwide to meet with judges and former law clerks for panel discussions, as well as a research and writing exercise.

In praising the program Sullivan points out that ABA past President Dennis W. Archer “is not only a former clerk for a most distinguished judge, but he was also an employer of law clerks during his tenure on the Michigan Supreme Court.”

The article quotes a University of Texas at Austin graduate who observed that initiatives like the program have “been a quiet force for creating an environment in which opportunities, even for the highest office in the land, can be afforded regardless of gender, color, race, religion, or ethnicity.”

Sullivan is a past chair of the clerkship program and serves in an ongoing role as advisor.  Click here for more comments from Sullivan and to view a video from this year’s clerkship program at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Sullivan also is the recipient of the ABA Section of Litigation’s 2010 Diversity Leadership Award, which will be presented April 21 in New York at the section’s annual conference.