On November 1, 2019, the Office of Judicial Engagement presented “A Judge and Clerk Fireside Chat: An Inside Look into the Judge/Clerk Workplace Partnership,” featuring Judge Amy St. Eve ’90, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Zoe Jones ’15, a recent clerk to Judge St. Eve and current clerk to Judge Virginia Kendall of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Diverging from the usual format of the series, the guests were interviewed not by Assistant Dean for Judicial Engagement Elizabeth Peck but by each other. They covered a slew of practical topics, from what law school classes provide the most helpful preparation for a clerkship (Jones’s top pick was Civil Procedure) to advice on applying for clerkships (“Know your judge,” exhorted St. Eve).
Jones’s number one piece of advice to aspiring clerks was, “You need to be decisive, and you need to have confidence in your decisions.” St. Eve added that the clerks who have distinguished themselves the most for her have been proactive. Clerk and judge also touched on some of the benefits of clerkships, including well-honed writing skills, “behind-the-scenes” insights into the workings of the court, and the chance to create networks and form relationships with judges and fellow clerks.
They also discussed the difference between clerking at an appellate court and clerking at a district court, emphasizing the intellectual rigor demanded by the former and the sheer volume of cases and motions a judge and their clerks encounter at the latter. St. Eve said of district court, “Human nature—the good, the bad—plays out in the courtroom every day.”
Asked which clerking experience she preferred, Jones told attending students, “If you can, do both.”
The Judge and Clerk Fireside Chat was sponsored by the Henry Korn ’68 Lecture Series.