To work for a judge one summer during law school, Nicholas Dumas ’11 had to save money by maxing out student loans and living with his grandmother. “The chance to work in a judge’s chambers during law school was invaluable,” he says. “That experience shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford it.”
Berkeley Law students who accept unpaid summer jobs in public interest, nonprofit, and government sectors have long qualified for a $4,000 stipend. But no funding was made available for judicial positions, making it hard for some to consider those opportunities. Last summer, the school changed that by launching the Judicial Externship Program— which enabled 40 students to assist judges without adding debt or finding free housing.
Fueled partly by alumni donations, the program opens doors to training and boosts students’ stock with legal employers. Benjamin Chen ’17, who externed for 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Marsha Berzon ’73, appreciated his “up-close look into a federal appellate court’s operations.” He cite-checked opinions for publication, prepared bench memoranda, and eagerly absorbed the judicial decision-making process.
“That experience played a major role in my deciding to pursue a clerkship and, I believe, in successfully applying for one,” says Chen, who will clerk for Judge Morgan Christen on the same court next year. “I strongly recommend the program.”