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42 J. Legal Educ. 427 (1992)


The career path of many law professors includes a judicial clerkship - typically, right after graduation. Almost all law professors have extolled the clerkship experience and have written letters of recommendation for students applying for those positions. While I fall into the latter category, I did not fall into the former - at least not until my recent sabbatical.

When I was a law student, I gave no thought to a clerkship, and none of my teachers encouraged me to pursue that route. (In fact, graduating in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War, I thought mainly - like most of my classmates - about avoiding the draft.) Instead I immediately went to work in the litigation department of a large New York law firm. Since I teach civil procedure, that experience proved valuable, but over the years I came increasingly to regret that I had never pursued a judicial clerkship. And, until about a year ago, I assumed that opportunity would not come again.

Although I had taught law at Notre Dame for nearly twenty years, I had never taken a sabbatical-for a variety of reasons. Then it occurred to me that it just might be possible to spend a semester, relieved of teaching responsibilities, working for a federal judge. But how to do it? Fortunately, there were two persons on the federal bench, both with chambers here in South Bend, whom I knew personally and respected professionally. I hoped one or both might be receptive.


Reprinted with permission of Journal of Legal Education.



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