Alexandra N. Rothman ’12 moved almost 2,000 miles outside her comfort zone months after graduating Fordham Law to clerk for the Hon. Paul J. Kelly Jr. ’67 of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Tenth Circuit in New Mexico. There, she gained the appellate court experience she sought while also embarking on a second education outside the judge’s chambers—one in which she became involved in the Santa Fe art community, joined a running club, learned to ski, and traveled to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with one of her co-clerks.
“We really took advantage of the year we had in New Mexico,” Rothman says of herself and her two co-clerks, one of whom was fellow Fordham alumna Genevieve Quinn ’12. “I fell in love with Santa Fe,” Rothman adds. “There’s nothing more beautiful than the New Mexico sky.”
Rothman subsequently returned to New York to clerk for the Hon. Cathy Seibel ’85 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before working for Cravath, Swaine & Moore as a litigation associate from 2014 to 2016. Now she works as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s criminal division.
Rothman grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Princeton, and interned with the Hon. Harold Baer Jr. in the Southern District of New York the summer after her 1L year. The fact that all her formative experiences, including law school, occurred in the northeast made her eager to clerk in a different region of the country.
Rothman’s moot court experiences at Fordham made an appellate clerkship an intriguing proposition, she says. She “instantly hit it off” with Judge Kelly, who she notes “always looks to hire Fordham clerks.” Her clerkship with Kelly illustrated to her that really good judges, like really good lawyers, know how to narrow their focus on what matters in a case.
Professor Daniel Capra encouraged Rothman to spend a year at the district court level to see up-close the litigation process of civil and criminal matters from beginning to end—an experience that would benefit her when she later pursued a prosecution career. Rothman says her clerkship with Judge Seibel emphasized the gravity of a judge’s work.
“A judge must take their work seriously, recognizing the impact it has on real people’s lives,” Rothman explains. “That’s something that has stayed with me to this day, especially in the work I am doing now.”
Rothman encourages Fordham students to use the Law School’s network of current judges and former clerks when seeking clerkships. She also recommends students participate in Law School programs like moot court, clinics (she represented low-income clients in the Securities Litigation & Arbitration Clinic), and journals (she served as executive online editor for the Fordham Law Review)—all of which provide valuable knowledge whether a clerkship is a few subway stops from Lincoln Center or 2,000 miles away from it.
“There are few experiences as special as spending a year in judge’s chambers, wherever that may be,” Rothman says.