It’s no coincidence, according to Genevieve Hanft ’12, that in her six years since graduating from Fordham Law School she has transitioned seamlessly back and forth among clerkships with appeals, district, and magistrate judges in New York, and two stints as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP.
“The clerkships have prepared me to be a better associate, and my time as an associate has prepared me to be a better clerk,” Hanft says.
Hanft clerked for the Hon. Gabriel W. Gorenstein, a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in 2012-2013, and the Hon. Paul A. Crotty, a district judge for the same court, in 2014-2015. After each clerkship, she returned to Paul Weiss, a firm she first joined as a 2L summer associate.
“My clerkship for Judge Gorenstein was hugely beneficial to me as an associate at Paul Weiss, because it provided me a lot more knowledge about the discovery process, made me a better writer, and increased my understanding of how civil litigation works,” Hanft explains. “Likewise, when I started with Judge Crotty, I found that my work as an associate provided me with a beneficial understanding of the brief-writing process and what parties are seeking in motion practice.”
Since 2016, Hanft has clerked for the Hon. Michael J. Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals. Her unplanned third clerkship, she notes, arose from a Fordham Law contact suggesting she apply to Judge Garcia, who initially worked out of a temporary office at the Law School after the New York State Senate confirmed his appointment in February 2016. Hanft credits Professor Daniel Capra for making possible all three of her clerkships with his contacts and persistence. Fordham also assisted Hanft in landing two judicial internships as a student: the first with the Hon. Denny Chin ’78 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit during her 1L summer, and subsequently with the Hon. Shira Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The New York Court of Appeals represented a “pretty big shift” from her prior experiences, Hanft says, because she didn’t know much about state practice or appellate litigation when she started. Hanft’s other clerkships provided similar learning opportunities. With Judge Gorenstein, a magistrate judge who conducted numerous settlement conferences, Hanft observed mediation, settlement, and negotiating between two parties to reach an agreement. She next sought a district court clerkship for Judge Crotty, in part, because it offered her an up-close view of how criminal trials unfold.
“It is fascinating to see the multitude of areas that courts confront,” Hanft says. “I’ve learned that areas of law I didn’t necessarily think I’d be interested in are more enjoyable than expected. I’ve also learned that while the facts of a case may not seem particularly interesting at first glance, the law behind it can be fascinating—and vice versa.”