Brooke Weedon '16L
Who will you be clerking for, and what will your responsibilities be?
In August I will begin as a term clerk for Judge Stamp on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. My primary responsibilities will include reviewing cases, drafting bench memos and opinions, and assisting Judge Stamp on the bench. The district has a diverse docket, and I will work on a wide variety of criminal and civil cases.
Why are you interested in clerking after graduation?
It was not until some point during my 1L summer that I figured out I was interested in litigation. I have never really enjoyed public speaking, and getting up in front of a jury had always been the center of my perception of litigation. I spent my 1L summer at a small tax law firm that did both transactional tax work and a small amount of tax litigation. I quickly discovered that I had no interest in the transactional side of the work and, fortunately, was able to spend the summer writing briefs for a U.S. Tax Court case. I had so much fun with the writing side of litigation and, since then, I have learned that actually going to trial is a very small part of most litigation lawyers' day-to-day work, especially at big law firms. So, eventually, I sought out a clerkship for two reasons: First, I wanted an experience that would further develop my writing skills in the litigation context. I hope that reading other lawyers' writing everyday and discussing it with a judge will help me become more effective in my own writing. Second, I wanted an experience that would teach me how to be a better oral advocate in a low-stress setting. I hope to learn from observing other attorneys advocate before the court and discussing what worked and what did not work with the judge. I think that, after this experience, I will be a lot more excited than I am now about advocating for a client at trial myself.
How did you secure this clerkship?
W&L's Clerkship Committee helped me identify federal district judges who had previously hired W&L graduates. I sent out my applications to those judges in late January of my 2L year. Judge Stamp was one of the first judges to get back with me, and I had my interview in the beginning of March and accepted the offer within a week or so after the interview.
Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for clerking?
The most helpful experience by far has been my time on the Law Review as a staffwriter last year and as an Executive Editor this year. Working on the Law Review has immensely improved my writing and editing skills, both of which are essential to being a good clerk. I also feel much better prepared having spent this year externing for a judge on the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Understanding the appellate court process, even at the state level, has given me a better idea of the significance of what happens at the trial court. As for classes, I know that the material I am currently learning in Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure will be invaluable. I remember speaking to Judge Stamp's clerks during my interview and learning that one had taken a Federal Courts class and the other had not. The clerk who had not taken Federal Courts said that was one class he regretted not taking in law school, and the clerk who had taken the class said it had made her transition to clerking a lot smoother. Additionally, I am sure that I will be glad to have taken Criminal Procedure when I begin my clerkship-I have already used what I learned in that class on many occasions during my externship this year.
How is clerking linked to your career objectives?
I mentioned before that I am interested in litigation. With that interest in mind, I spent this past summer working as a summer associate at McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia. By the time I began that experience, I was already pretty set in what I wanted to pursue and had already accepted my clerkship offer. So I spent the summer working with as many litigation lawyers in as many different litigation-based practice groups as I could. It did not take long to learn that hiring at big law firms is extremely competitive these days and, for hiring into litigation groups, a federal clerkship is almost a requirement. It also did not take long to figure out why so many lawyers and firms view clerking as such a critical experience. There is a significantly shorter learning curve for new litigation associates who come from clerkships, and the value of understanding what a judge might think about what you write or say cannot be overstated.
What are you most looking forward to about this clerkship position?
I am very fortunate to be clerking for a judge who I admire both professionally and personally, and am excited to spend each day of my clerkship working with and learning from such an extraordinary person. I am also grateful to have my clerkship as somewhat of a transition period between law school and jumping into life as an associate at a big law firm. Especially because I did not work at all between college and law school, I think that working primarily with just the Judge and the other clerk will be a good way for me to develop into a better lawyer in a less intimidating setting.
What are your plans after your clerkship?
I have accepted an offer from McGuireWoods to join their business and securities litigation practice group. I will be working in their Richmond, Virginia office.