2019 Judicial Reception breaks attendance records

Students enjoyed a valuable opportunity to network with more than 50 judges at the annual Maryland Carey Law Judicial Reception on Nov. 6, making it the most highly attended in the event’s six-year history.

Among those offering advice and information were four chief judges: Mary Ellen Barbera ’84, Court of Appeals; James Bredar, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland; Matthew Fader, Court of Special Appeals; and John Morrissey, District Court of Maryland. The reception also drew its first out-of-state member of the judiciary, Paul Wallace of the Delaware Superior Court.

Ranked 6th nationally for clerkships, Maryland Carey Law puts on the reception as part of the law school’s program to help students build relationships with members of the judiciary.

“Hosting the Judicial Reception is one of the integral components of our judicial clerkship and internship efforts,” said Director of Judicial Clerkships Jennifer Pollard. “It fosters relationships between our local judiciary and our faculty and students… Each year, after the reception, I have many students who either secured a position with a judge at the reception, were encouraged to apply to a judge they otherwise would not have considered, or had such meaningful conversations with judges that they have a competitive advantage over other clerk and intern candidates. This is a win for both the judiciary and our school.”   

In addition, the judges were accompanied by current judicial clerks, many of whom, as with several of the judges themselves, are Maryland Carey Law alumni. According to Pollard, their presence at the reception is helpful for students because they facilitate introductions between students and judges, and serve as a resource for students seeking information from someone actually doing the job.

"The Judicial Reception was a great way to see old classmates who've recently become law clerks, as well as receive their insight about future post-graduate clerkship opportunities,” said Alexa Ain ’21. “In talking with different judges, I realized how beneficial a clerkship could be. I'm very glad I decided to attend.”

Dean Donald B. Tobin welcomed the nearly 300 attendees as they began networking in Westminster Hall.

“Students hear from me all the time about the importance of clerking,” said Tobin, who himself clerked for the Hon. Francis Murnaghan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. “I am thrilled to have so many from the judiciary here tonight, and grateful that you are giving our students what may be their first opportunity to speak with a judge.”

Indeed, many of the nearly 200 students attending were in their first year of law school. Others were upper-level students actively pursuing clerking positions.

In lieu of a formal program, attendees were treated to a video in which local judges described their expectations of clerks and what they are looking for when interviewing applicants.

Judge Barbera, who has a long track record of hiring Maryland Carey Law students and alumni, said she looks for top talent, which means, “writing skills, oral advocacy skills, the ability to work hard, the ability to be both efficient and disciplined but also flexible.”

Judge Yolanda Curtin, Circuit Court for Harford County, who also teaches written and oral advocacy at the law school, emphasized the extent to which judges rely on clerks to help them do their jobs. “In my chambers, judicial clerks are invaluable,” she said. “They make my work so much easier.”

And the benefits go both ways, as judges provide important job experience for interns and clerks, and, in many cases, lifelong mentorship.

“I take and I know my colleagues take the mentoring responsibility really seriously,” said Judge Douglas Nazarian, Maryland Court of Special Appeals. “I view the clerks I hire each year as being part of an extended network and extended family.”

Joanna Woodson ’22, a student from North Carolina, said the Judicial Reception is an event she wouldn’t miss and took full advantage of the opportunity, engaging in conversation with three different judges.

“Events like the Judicial Reception create space for students to pick the brains of people who have decades of knowledge and experience, who are so excited to talk to us, and who want to see us all succeed,” reflected Woodson afterward. “What more can you ask for?”

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