On May 20, 2020, Julie Yap ‘05 was sworn in as a superior court judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court of California.
Yap’s judicial appointment is the culmination of her extensive experience in the judiciary, private practice, academia, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.
Yap began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, from 2005 to 2011. From 2011 to 2012, she was a Supreme Court fellow, a highly selective year-long placement with federal judiciary agencies.
“The reason I was excited about this job is number one the public service aspect,” said Yap of her judgeship. She says that working in the public interest was the “driving force” for her to become a lawyer.
“I really loved my time in the judiciary,” Yap said, because “you try to find the right answer, and that’s what your job is as judge.”
Yap attended Fordham for both her undergraduate education and law school. While at Fordham Law, she served on the Fordham Law Review and participated in the clinical program.
“When I went to law school, I didn’t have any lawyers in the family,” she said. And, like many new law students, she did not fully grasp what a lawyer’s job was. She credited Fordham with giving students “the opportunity to get your hands dirty” and gain career experience.
“Julie was a delightful and engaged student during her time at the school,” said Assistant Dean Suzanne Endrizzi. “Her career path—from serving as law clerk to law firm partner to assistant United States attorney and now judge—is an inspiration to the next generation of Fordham students.”
Yap is effusive about her Fordham professors, noting that it’s difficult to single out just a few when so many were so helpful. Ian Weinstein was her mentor and was “always there for advice,” even after she graduated. “Dan Capra was super helpful in the clerkship process,” she recalled.
In addition to her experience in the judiciary, Yap worked in the Labor and Employment department at Seyfarth Shaw from 2012 to 2019, becoming a partner in 2016. Most recently, she served as an assistant United States attorney in the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit in the Eastern District of California.
From 2007 to 2018, she taught several courses as an adjunct professor at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. When she began teaching complex civil procedure, she turned to Professor Michael M. Martin, who provided guidance like notes and advice on textbooks. “He was one of my favorite professors,” she said.
Yap says she learned something during every stage in her varied experience that she hopes will help her as she begins her judicial career. In private practice, she said she learned about the pressures firm attorneys face like managing client relationships and also “what it’s like to get up and argue” in court.
At the U.S. attorney’s office, she enjoyed being able to “represent the U.S. and do the right thing.”
Yap was appointed to her new position by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill a vacancy left by retirement. Yap called the swearing-in ceremony, a socially-distanced courtroom ceremony for immediate family that was also streamed live to YouTube “a new frontier for everyone.”