Assistant New York State Solicitor General Philip V. Tisne ’07 frequently drafts briefs and presents oral arguments in appeals courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. So one might assume that, of his two clerkships, his year with the Hon. Reena Raggi in the Second Circuit prepared him more for his current work than his district court clerkship. That would be a mistake, he says.
Tisne cites his experiences with both the Hon. Loretta Preska ’73 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2007-2008 and subsequently with Judge Raggi in 2010-2011 as “equally important” in his development as an appellate lawyer.
“Knowing what it looks like for a trial court judge when they’re thinking about issues, drafting decisions, and dealing with motions gives an appellate attorney a richer perspective on what the case looked like before it reached the appellate level,” says Tisne, noting this knowledge is important when crafting an oral argument, for instance.
Tisne, a former chef, received his first entrée into a judge’s chambers when he interned the summer after his 1L year with the Hon. David G. Trager of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The internship introduced Tisne to the “intensive writing project” that clerking would be, but his time with Judge Preska and Judge Raggi convinced him that clerking was about more than drafting opinions and observing courtroom proceedings.
“People often focus on seeing trials and writing motions, but mentorship is the aspect that is most important,” Tisne says. “I was immensely lucky to receive mentorship from two fantastic judges. It’s hard to overstate how much I benefited personally from their counsel.”
“Clerking allows you to learn from somebody who is an immensely talented lawyer and an immensely respected practitioner and judge, and to learn from their work habits, their way of looking at cases, and their way of dealing with attorneys,” Tisne adds.
The Second Circuit provided Tisne an opportunity to research and think issues through in a more academic setting relative to clerking in district court or working with a firm, he says. His experience in Judge Raggi’s chambers helped him understand the language appellate lawyers use and also equipped him with insight into how these same lawyers view cases—skills he uses to great effect today.
“Clerkships are a very competitive thing, and I consider myself very fortunate to have worked for very good judges,” says Tisne, who cites Professor Daniel Capra as “hugely influential” in the personal investment he makes in helping students obtain clerkships. “Every opportunity I get, I say ‘Thank you’ to Professor Capra, Judge Preska, and Judge Raggi,” Tisne says.