The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law is pleased to announce the winners and finalists in the inaugural CSL Prize in Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing competition held in conjunction with its February 26-27, 2021 Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference.
The competition was open to all conferees, which consisted of rising clerks who will serve in federal or state appellate court chambers in the coming year. Subsequent to two days of writing instruction from conference faculty, each entrant drafted a short judicial opinion based on a First Amendment problem written by the Columbus School of Law. The entrants were then submitted for judging in a blind competition to the conference faculty, which was composed of: Judge Kyle Duncan, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Paul Matey, Third Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Chad Readler, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Lawrence VanDyke, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge James Boasberg, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Judge Dabney Friedrich, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Judge John Gallagher, U.S. District Court for the E.D. Pennsylvania; Judge Joseph Leeson, U.S. District Court for the E.D. Pennsylvania; Judge Steven C. Seeger, U.S. District Court for the N.D. of Illinois; and Judge Edward Meyers, U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The competition was based solely on writing criteria.
The winners and finalists are as follows:
CSL PRIZE IN JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP OPINION WRITING:
Rebecca C. Fuller, St. Mary's University School of Law: Rebecca will clerk for the Honorable David A. Ezra in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas during the 2021–2022 term.
For Rebecca Fuller, law school has helped to prepare her to write briefs and deliver oral arguments, but she feels that not much prepares an up-and-coming lawyer for the specific experience of being a judicial clerk. Reflecting on the importance of a conference like the Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference she shared, “This conference fills that void by providing not only general advice from those best situated to give it but also personalized feedback. As for the competition, what better way to solidify what you have learned than to apply it? The conference and competition together offer an invaluable learning experience.”
About her success in the competition, Fuller noted, “As law students, we are often told, because of the school we attend or the grades we earn, that our options are limited. In winning the CSL Prize in Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing, I learned that I should never underestimate myself or limit my own opportunities. It is such an honor.” She added, “I would just like to commend my fellow conference attendees on securing such prestigious clerkship positions and on submitting what I am sure were very impressive opinions. It was truly an honor to share this experience with such talented people.”
SECOND PLACE (TIE):
Timothy V. Hansen, University of Virginia School of Law: Tim will clerk for Judge Drew Tipton of the Southern District of Texas in 2021-2022 and Judge Ryan Nelson of the Ninth Circuit in 2022-2023.
Hansen was appreciative of his experience at the conference. He said, “The instruction during the conference was excellent, and the competition provided a good opportunity to try to put the things I learned during the conference into practice. I really appreciate Professor Harmon, the judges, and everyone else involved in making the conference such a valuable learning experience. About his success in the competition, he added, “It boosts my confidence as I prepare to begin my clerkship.”
Daniel T. Judge, Notre Dame Law School: Daniel will clerk for Judge Michael B. Brennan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2021-2022.
Judge shared, “I would recommend this conference to anyone preparing for a clerkship. It is truly a unique experience to spend a weekend learning about judicial opinion writing from so many esteemed judges. I left the conference feeling significantly more prepared for my clerkship."
Zachary Faircloth, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law: Zachary is a law clerk for Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas and will clerk for Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 2021-2022.
Rahgan Jensen, BYU Law School: Rahgan will clerk for Judge Danielle Hunsaker on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2021-2022.
Brenna Scully, University of California Los Angeles School of Law: Brenna will clerk for Judge Chad Readler of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2021-2022 and Judge Sandra Ikuta of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2022-2023.
The Columbus School of Law congratulates all the winners and entrants and looks forward to hosting its second annual conference in the spring of next year. Direct any questions to Professor A.G. Harmon, Coordinator of the Conference and Faculty Director of Bench and Bar Programs: firstname.lastname@example.org.