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Wyoming Ranked 30th in the Nation for Federal Judicial Clerkships

June 25, 2020
clerkship rankings screenshot showing Wyoming at 30th

The University of Wyoming College of Law is ranked 30th in the nation this year for students placed in federal judicial clerkships. Above the Law recently highlighted the top law schools where graduates get the highest proportion of federal judicial clerkships based on law school employment data for the class of 2019 compiled by Wyoming came in at number 30 on the list, just above Georgetown University.

The ranking is an important recognition of one of the most prized features of the College of Law. The relationship that College of Law has with members of the Wyoming judiciary is second to none. While the ranking is a nod specifically to the federal bench, the overall number of Wyoming graduates that enter into clerkships is equally impressive, with students earning coveted positions in various Supreme Court clerkships, as well as trial court clerkships around the country.

The class of 2019 had an impressively high number of students enter into clerkships following graduation with 20% of the graduating class of 70 students placed in a clerkship position. Of that 20%, 5.71% account for federal judicial clerks. A list of the students in clerkships and the chambers they entered can be explored here.

The recently graduated class of 2020 is fairing even better with a total of fourteen students out of 67 earning top clerkship positions, accounting for 20.89% of the class. Of the fourteen, five students are entering into federal clerkships in Wyoming. With 7.46% of the class moving into a federal clerkship, the College of Law’s nation ranking will likely be even higher next year. Students moving into clerkships from the class of 2020 include:

  • Morgan Temte of Cheyenne, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Scott Skavdahl (J.D. ’92) Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming;

  • Adam Carman of Jackson, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Nancy Freudenthal (J.D. ’80) of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming;

  • Kari Hartman of Cheyenne, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Alan B. Johnson (J.D. ’64) of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming;

  • Meri Heneage of Lexington, S.C., who will be clerking for the Honorable Kelly Rankin (J.D. ’94) Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Wyoming;

  • Brent Rhodes of Rock Springs, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Mark Carman (J.D. ’81), United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Wyoming;

  • Adelaide Myers of Saratoga, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Kate Fox (J.D. ’89) of the Wyoming Supreme Court;

  • Renee Leone of Jackson, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Lynne Boomgaarden (J.D. ’91) of the Wyoming Supreme Court;

  • Katelyn Krabbenhoft of Fargo, N.Dak., who will be clerking for the Honorable Jerod Tufte of the North Dakota Supreme Court;

  • Ashlee Morse of Huntsville, Utah, who will be clerking for the Honorable A. Andrew Peterson of the Alaska Superior Court;

  • Samuel Laffey of Memphis, Tenn., who will be clerking for the Honorable Marvin Tyler (J.D. ’81) of the Ninth Judicial District of Wyoming;

  • Benjamin Peterson of Cheyenne, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Thomas Campbell of the First Judicial District of Wyoming;

  • Shayla Fosmo of Douglas, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable F. Scott Peasley of the Eighth Judicial District of Wyoming;

  • John “Jack” Day of Grosse Point, Mich., who will be clerking for the Honorable David R. Wallace of the Third Judicial District of Alaska; and

  • Christian Marsh of Carson City, Nev., who will be clerking for the Honorable Leon Aberasturi of the Third Judicial District of Nevada.

A notable addition this year to the list of judges hiring Wyoming law grads is United States Magistrate Judge Mark Carman with his exceptional hire of Brent Rhodes into a federal clerkship position in Yellowstone. This is the first year that Magistrate Judge Carman has hired a College of Law student.

Something that is very unique to Wyoming is that our judges and justices really take the time to get to know the students that they plan to hire, frequently volunteering in multiple capacities at the law school where they can see students perform in programs like the Summer Trial Institute, student competitions, or serving on prestigious scholarship committees. Additionally, a large proportion of Wyoming judges and justices allow students an equal glimpse inside the inner workings of their chambers by hiring them as externs, or allowing them to shadow through the Legal Liftoff Program. Often, students also appear in court arguing a case for one of the legal clinics

Candidates for clerkships are highly competitive and offer the most prestige to any law graduate. Judges seek the best and brightest, with excellent research, writing, and analytical skills. Wyoming graduates have proven time and again that they have the academics, the tenacity, and the heart to fill the positions with dedication, and to go above and beyond for their judges. Regularly, it is that determination that is so characteristic among Wyomingites that sets our graduates apart.

Justice Lynne Boomgaarden (J.D. '91) and Renee Leone (J.D. '20)

Once such student is Renee Leone. Originally from New York, Renee moved out west and rooted her life in Wyoming before deciding to attend law school. Her education has been peppered with accolades and experience including her selection as a Brimmer Scholar finalist, her reception of the Archie McClintock Outstanding Student Award, and her work in the Civil Legal Services Clinic and other internships. She has drive for success and a talent for creating opportunities, which landed her a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Lynne Boomgaarden of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

“I first met Renee when she emailed to introduce herself and asked if we could meet so that she could learn more about me and possible externship and clerkship opportunities,” says Boomgaarden.  “That’s Wyoming initiative!”

From there, the pair were able to get to know each other on both a personal and professional level. They immediately hit it off with their mutual love of the Wyoming outdoors, similar backgrounds, and a shared passion for writing and excellence in the legal profession.

“Renee and I became better acquainted when she did an externship in my chambers for academic credit,” recounts Boomgaarden. “Her interest in externing gave me the chance to see her legal writing and analytical skills first hand. We visited face to face each week, and she even drafted a Wyoming Supreme Court opinion. I was thrilled when she accepted my offer to join our chambers for two years following her graduation.”

The personal investment that the judiciary is willing to make in College of Law students has a ripple effect that enhances the overall quality of the Wyoming Bar. Wyoming graduates are more likely to stay and practice in the state and invest their expertise back into the community. The opportunity to gain critical mentorship inside the courts, as well as adaptability in an ever-changing landscape is irreplaceable.

“I am very grateful to get to work for such an accomplished and well-respected female member of the Wyoming legal community,” says Leone. “Clerking is an opportunity to work under and learn from some of the best minds in the legal profession. I look forward to the research and writing aspect of the position, and I hope to gain insight on some of the important legal issues that are of concern across Wyoming.”

Recognizing the value of judicial clerkships not only for the students, but also for the judges and justices, Justice Boomgaarden has high hopes for the future and Wyoming graduates.

“As a proud UW College of Law graduate, I hope to provide UW law students the same valuable opportunity to clerk in Wyoming that Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Wade Brorby provided me,” she comments. “Wyoming judges and justices have long appreciated the skill and work ethic UW College of Law graduates bring to chambers, and any judicial clerkship provides unique insight into the practice and development of law. I have every confidence it will pay dividends to the law graduate willing to dedicate her time and service. It is my hope more and more law students commit to developing the writing skills necessary to be hired and excel in these positions.”

Leone echoes her sentiment and believes that the opportunities to clerk enhances the entire legal community.

“We are fortunate, in Wyoming, that the College of Law creates opportunities for students to foster relationships with judges and that our judiciary is so willing to engage with students and graduates in ways that help us learn and grow in the legal field.”

The College of Law cannot stress enough how important clerkship opportunities are for our students. No other experience bridges the gap between legal education and practice so succinctly. We encourage all of our students to clerk should the opportunity arise, and to strive for excellence in their legal educations in order to better prepare them for clerkship positions.

We are continually grateful to the dedication of many of our Federal Judges, Supreme Court Justices and Wyoming District Court Judges who consistently hire our students year after year, as well as the out-of-state judges who have recognized the value and skills of our graduates.

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Laramie, WY 82071

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