This spring semester, the Center for Judicial Events & Clerkships (CJEC) hosted four distinguished members of the state and federal judiciary through its View from Chambers series.
Last year, the CJEC piloted the View from Chambers initiative as part of its judicial engagement through education initiative. Given the positive response by the Fordham community, the CJEC expanded the initiative to spotlight a diverse slate of judges and range of courts on the federal and state levels.
This year’s visiting jurists included: Judge Gary Katzmann of the U.S. Court of International Trade; Magistrate Judge Lauren Louis ’00 of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida; Judge Jack Sabatino, deputy presiding judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division; and Justice Maria Araujo Kahn ’89 of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The student audience ranged from 1L to 3Ls. Some students attended to explore clerkships as a career path while others attended simply to learn about the work of specific courts and types of judges. The audience also included students who had already accepted a clerkship and attended to gain insights in advance of their clerkship commencing.
The visiting judges provided unique insights into the work of their particular court including duties and powers as well as their role as judges on that court. Moreover, the judges shared with the students their personal path to the bench, including the role their clerkships played in their career.
This year, each of the judges were joined by their clerks allowing the attendees to hear about how the work of the court is furthered by judicial clerks directly from the clerks. Moreover, students were able to witness the unique relationships forged between a judge and his/her clerk.
To best mimic an in-person event, each View from Chambers was set up as a Zoom meeting allowing for an extended Q&A period and informal dialogue between the judges and students.
Views from Chambers: Insights
On Feb. 23, Judge Katzmann—who was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a judge on the United States Court of International Trade in 2016—discussed the work of his court and how it regularly sits by designation on three-judge panels of the United States Courts of Appeals. Judge Katzmann also shared insights about his career trajectory, professional development, building professional relationships, and pursuing one’s interests and passions in the law.
“The Court hears cases that have wide-ranging implications for the environment, domestic industries, labor, the economy, and more,” said Corey Matthews ’21 who attended the event. “I think Judge Katzmann’s visit helped to underscore the unique opportunities Fordham students have to learn from the work the Court is doing.”
Magistrate Judge Louis spoke about her work as a magistrate and the specific role of magistrates on the Southern District of Florida as opposed to other districts on March 9. Emilia Brunnello ’18, current clerk for Judge Louis, provided insight into the role of the law clerk to a magistrate judge. Eric Lim ’21, incoming clerk to Judge Louis also joined the event.
“I am happy students were able to hear from Judge Louis and learn more about her exciting career and the fast-paced work of the Southern District of Florida,” Lim said. “The event was also a great way for students to learn more about the integral role of the U.S. Magistrate Judges within the federal court system.”
Lim added that he’s excited to serve as one of Judge Louis’s law clerks.
On March 11, Judge Sabatino discussed his work as the deputy presiding judge on the New Jersey Appellate Division, the work of the appellate division, and how it engages with the trial level and Supreme Court.
Judge Sabatino was joined by current Fordham law clerk Hanna Feldman ’20, former Fordham clerk Eliel Talo ’19, and incoming Fordham clerk Elena Cicognani ’21.
“I hope hearing from Judge Sabatino, Eliel, and myself provided current students with a greater perspective on how the clerks and the judge interact in chambers, as well as the applicability of skills learned during the clerkship to post-clerkship employment,” Feldman said.
“Some valuable things I’ve learned from my clerkship are the importance of a first draft in all manner of writing (especially when you are expected to produce a high volume of documents); the attributes of an effective advocate during oral arguments (including preparedness, elocution, and forthrightness in responses); and the pricelessness of receiving active feedback and daily correspondence with Judge Sabatino for continually making me a better lawyer.”
On March 18, Justice Kahn talked about her work on the Connecticut Supreme Court, how it engages with the lower courts in the state, and generally about the role of state courts of last resort. She was joined by her current Fordham Law clerk, Reece Pelley ’19.
“We are so pleased by how the Fordham community and student body have embraced our initiatives,” said Suzanne M. Endrizzi ’96, CJEC Assistant Dean. “We also recognize how incredibly lucky we are to have such a wonderful cohort of judges who are alumni and friends of Fordham willing to volunteer their time to invest in the education of our students.”