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Published May 29, 2018
The University of Wyoming College of Law has been named among the top 50 schools in the nation for highest percentage of students that secured a federal clerkship by Law.com and Above the Law. It was reported for the class of 2017 that 7.14 percent of the students were recipients of these prestigious offers.
The article explored the most surprising schools among the list after the usual suspects of the top tier schools, naming Wyoming 4th on their list.
“It is no surprise that Wyoming made the list given the amount of students that have gone into clerkships at a variety of levels following graduation,” says Director of Career Services, Ashli Tomisich. “The judges in the area not only have a tremendous amount of loyalty to the University of Wyoming, they have continually received quality candidates year after year that have been able to add value to the position immediately after graduation.”
Justice Kate Fox of the Wyoming Supreme Court, who regularly hires Wyoming graduates as her law clerks, echoes that sentiment.
“We enjoy the opportunity to work with bright and enthusiastic new law school grads in our chambers,” says Fox. “They bring a fresh perspective, they are interesting people with promising futures, and we hope that we can impart some wisdom about effective and ethical legal practices, as well as expose them to all areas of the law.”
She adds, “I like UW College of Law graduates because I expect they are more likely to be practicing in Wyoming, and I hope that the lessons they learn at the Wyoming Supreme Court will pay off in their practice as Wyoming lawyers. I do think it’s a valuable experience for the new lawyer, but we are also enriched by having them.”
Clerkships are an extremely sought after position for law students and are highly competitive to land. Not only do they provide an outstanding opportunity for students to transition into the legal profession by providing legal mentorship, and detailed research and writing skills, they can serve as a catalyst to launch students onto a successful career path.
In a class size of roughly 70 each year, the College of Law usually places anywhere between 8 -12 students annually in clerkship positions (see our employment statistics here). The class of 2017 yielded 11 students in clerkship positions out of a total of 70 students, 5 of which were federal.
Several students in the class of 2018 and 2019 have already secured clerkship positions, continuing Wyoming’s positive trend. Keeley Cronin, a current third-year law student, is set to serve for the Honorable Greg Phillips (J.D. ’87) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit following her graduation in 2019. Students moving into clerkship from the class of 2018 include:
Morgan Demic of Albuquerque, N. M., who will be clerking for the Honorable Tori R.A. Kricken (J.D. ’00) of the Second Judicial District of Wyoming; Bobbi Owen of Hammond, Mont., who will be clerking for the Honorable Nancy Freudenthal (J.D.’80) of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming; Cole Gustafson, of Sheridan, Wyo., who will clerk for the Honorable Alan B. Johnson (J.D. ’64) of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming; Alex Wolfe of Cincinnati, Ohio, who will be clerking for the Honorable Daniel L. Forgey (J.D. ’97) of the Seventh Judicial District of Wyoming, and; Catherine Young of Caper, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Kate Fox (J.D. ’89) of the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Young in particular has been an exceptional student to come through the College of Law. Young served as the student clinic director for the Defender Aid Program, working on a variety of cases and even argued solo before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 16, 2018. With a passion for writing and research, she also served as a student editor for the Wyoming Law Review.
“I like to write a lot, which is I why I was specifically interested at the appeal level clerkship,” says Young. “Working in Defender Aid has been a great experience and I feel a lot more confident in my research skills than before I took the clinic. I am really looking forward to gaining more experience working from within the Court and honing those skills.”
While Young has gained valuable exposure to various legal issues in the clinics, she is excited to get a behind-the-curtain view of the courtroom.
“It is a really good opportunity for mentorship. I also think it is a good way of seeing attorneys do things the right way and the wrong way, and have an inside look as to what judges appreciate and don’t appreciate,” she adds.
In particular, Young is excited to be working for Justice Fox.
“I think it will be really amazing to work for a female Justice that I really admire,” she comments. “It adds another valuable layer to the mentorship that I hope to gain and I am so excited to have her help me improve.”
Justice Fox is equally complimentary.
“I’m very excited to have Cat Young as our incoming 2019 law clerk,” says Fox. “I expect she will fit right in with our track record of smart and personable law clerks.”
With the caliber of students graduating the College of Law, we are so pleased to see so many of them ending up in positions where they continue to shine. The College of Law is extremely proud of our students and their drive for success.