Gupta Wessler looks for people with exceptional writing ability, the capacity to think rigorously and creatively about the law, strong advocacy instincts, collaborative spirit, and a genuine passion for public interest work. All of our lawyers have served as federal judicial law clerks and have a mix of top-flight litigation experience at national public interest organizations, law firms, and government.
Each year, we hire new lawyers through our fellowship program and law students through our summer program. We also regularly hire talented college grads as legal assistants. We view the training and mentoring of aspiring public interest lawyers as an essential part of our firm’s mission and are proud of our alumni, who have gone on to clerkships and careers in public interest and appellate litigation. We’re always interested in hearing from people who share an enthusiasm for our work and who are interested in joining us.
We welcome and encourage applications from candidates of all backgrounds and graduates of all schools–including women, members of traditionally unrepresented groups, first-generation college graduates, and non-traditional candidates.
Legal Assistant/Office Manager
One of Gupta Wessler’s former legal assistants has described this job as “an apprenticeship in high-stakes public-interest appellate advocacy.” Our legal assistants handle a very broad range of administrative and substantive responsibilities for a small but busy law firm focused on Supreme Court, appellate, and complex litigation. They’re usually the first point of contact for new clients and cases and they oversee the final quality control over briefs filed in the nation’s highest courts. We’re proud that our legal assistants have gone on to pursue careers in public interest law.
Responsibilities include drafting, editing, formatting, and filing legal documents; research relating to cases; tracking court deadlines and ensuring that projects are on track; scheduling and arranging meetings, speaking appearances, moot courts, and travel; general administrative tasks, including keeping on top of telephone calls and emails for the firm’s lawyers; developing newsletters and other mailings; and other tasks as assigned.
We look for bright and energetic college graduates—preferably with at least a year or two of relevant post-college experience—who are interested in the work we do and have strong organizational, interpersonal, and communications skills. You should care about good writing and editing and be interested in continually improving your own skills as a writer. You should also have extraordinary attention to detail, be a quick learner able to regularly familiarize yourself with new cases and rules of different court systems, be comfortable prioritizing among multiple assignments, and be able to effectively solve problems while remaining calm in deadline-driven situations. This job may be ideal for individuals who are contemplating law school or graduate school. A two-year commitment is expected.
Gupta Wessler PLLC is the only organization of its kind in the nation—a progressive public interest law firm specializing in high-profile Supreme Court, appellate, and constitutional litigation. Our cases cover a very broad range of issues, including workers’ and consumers’ rights, civil rights, class actions, access to the courts, constitutional and administrative law, and gun-violence prevention. In these and other areas, we work closely with leading non-profit organizations, scholars, policy experts, local governments, and other law firms to help shape the law in ways that enhance justice and improve people’s lives. Recently, we’ve protected nearly $1.5 billion in class-action relief for workers and consumers; won major victories against the Trump Administration over dark money and President Trump’s conflicts of interest; helped raise the minimum wage for thousands of airport workers; and successfully preserved the constitutionality of common-sense gun laws.
To apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, at least one writing sample, and three references to firstname.lastname@example.org. The writing sample can be anything that reveals your general writing and analytic ability: a work assignment, college research paper, essay, or article on any topic is fine. No telephone inquiries, please.
* * *
Abigail Cipparone is a legal assistant at the firm. She graduated from Yale in 2019 with a B.A. in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. As an intern at the ACLU, she researched the Customs and Border Patrol’s implementation of the Muslim Ban and worked on Hamama v. Adduci, a suit (on which she later wrote her senior thesis) concerning the detention of Iraqi Chaldean Christian immigrants. Abigail was also part of a journalism team that traveled with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jake Halpern to Lesbos, Greece, where she used her Arabic-language skills to interview refugees living in three camps for an article in The New Yorker.
Hilda M. Jordan is a legal assistant at the firm. She graduated cum laude from Harvard in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and African American Studies. She previously served as a research intern for the Harvard Law Review, interned at a small civil rights firm, and worked as a research partner to Professor Martha Minow, where she researched the role of forgiveness in the justice system for Professor Minow’s book When Should the Law Forgive? (2019). After graduating, Hilda was awarded the Michael C. Rockefeller fellowship to study in Panama.
Sara Evall is a legal assistant at the firm. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Refugee and Migrant Studies. She received distinction for her honor’s thesis on refugee worker’s rights in Amman, Jordan. At Duke, she worked closely with the local refugee community and worked on queer-inclusive sexual health education and advocacy. After graduating, Sara worked as a Policy & Program Fellow with the American Constitution Society.
Jared Milfred was a legal assistant with the firm through 2020 and is now a first-year student at Stanford Law. He completed an M.Phil in political theory as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and graduated from Yale in 2016 with a B.A. in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, summa cum laude. Before joining Gupta Wessler, Jared worked on the campaign of Zephyr Teachout for New York Attorney General, volunteered for the Bronx Freedom Fund, and served as the Chairman of the City of New Haven’s public campaign financing program. He grew up in Portland, Oregon.
Nabila Abdallah was the firm’s legal assistant through the summer of 2019 and is now a second-year student at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Nabila grew up in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and received her B.A. in Philosophy in 2014 from Stanford, where she wrote her honors thesis in on the application of just war principles to non-state armed entities. She previously worked at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York, as a researcher for a radio show on philosophy, as an English teacher in France, and as a volunteer tutor at a drug rehab facility.
Stephanie Garlock was the firm’s legal assistant through the summer of 2017, graduated from Yale Law School in 2020, and is now clerking for Judge Pamela Harris on the Fourth Circuit. During law school, Steph completed summer internships at Public Citizen Litigation Group and Alaska Legal Services Corporation. Before joining Gupta Wessler, she was an Editorial Fellow at The Atlantic and a staff writer at Harvard Magazine. She received her B.A. in History, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Harvard, where she was an editor of the Harvard Crimson and wrote her senior honors thesis on school busing and integration in Montgomery County, Maryland, where she grew up.
Ian Engdahl, the firm’s first legal assistant, earned his law degree from Georgetown Law in 2018, and is now an associate at Hausfeld LLP, a leading class action plaintiffs’ firm. While in law school, Ian worked in the appellate clinic and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. Before joining Gupta Wessler, Ian was a litigation paralegal and a court-appointed advocate for abused and neglected children, and had published his original research on a trio of little-known 19th century civil-rights cases in the Journal of Supreme Court History. Ian received his B.A. in Political Economy from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in small-town Maine.
Fellowship in Appellate and Constitutional Litigation
Gupta Wessler PLLC specializes in Supreme Court, appellate, and complex litigation on behalf of plaintiffs and public interest clients. Our cases span a wide range of issues, including consumers’ and workers’ rights, class actions, access to the courts, administrative law, civil rights, the First Amendment, and gun-violence prevention.
Each year, our firm seeks out a new attorney with exceptional writing ability, the capacity to think rigorously and creatively about the law, strong advocacy instincts, collaborative spirit, and a genuine passion for public interest work. Judicial clerkship experience and experience in both public interest and appellate litigation are preferred.
The fellowship is ideally suited for a current or recent judicial law clerk interested in embarking on a career as a public interest litigator. Fellows are fully integrated into all aspects of the firm’s work and receive significant responsibility for cutting-edge appellate, constitutional, and complex litigation. They are expected to hit the ground running by researching and drafting briefs under close supervision and mentorship by the firm’s attorneys. Fellows will also play a critical role in monitoring developments in the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, and in analyzing potential new cases for the firm.
How to apply: The application process for the 2021-2022 fellowship is closed. We will begin considering applications for 2022-2023 in the fall of 2021, reviewing them on a rolling basis through September 2022. The fellowship position is based in Washington, D.C. (assuming that normal in-person operations resume). Applicants should email a cover letter, resume, transcript, list of three references, and multiple writing samples (please review the guidance below) to email@example.com. We are committed to considering applicants from all schools and backgrounds, and we actively seek applications from women and underrepresented groups.
Guidance on writing samples: Writing samples are the most important part of the application process, and we encourage candidates to submit multiple samples. We prefer whole documents to excerpts. To facilitate blind review, each sample should be submitted as a separate PDF file, omitting the applicant’s identifying information (such as the applicant’s name, judge, and law school). We prefer writing samples that reflect a candidate’s most challenging and ambitious work so far, not cookie-cutter assignments. Scholarly papers are welcome but we would also like to see at least one in-depth advocacy piece or legal memorandum, such as a bench memo (if chambers policy permits, and redacted as necessary). Samples that have been edited or commented upon by others are perfectly fine so long as that fact is noted. We also like to see non-legal writing (or legal writing aimed at a general lay audience) that reveals a candidate’s interests and writing ability.
* * *
Our incoming 2021-2022 fellow is Joyce Dela Peña, who will join the firm following her clerkships with Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit, Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and Judge Corinne Beckwith of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Joyce is a 2018 graduate of Georgetown Law. Before clerking, she was a student in Brian Wolfman’s Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic and interned at Public Justice; Relman, Dane & Colfax; the Special Litigation unit of the D.C. Public Defender Service; Equal Justice Under Law; Bronx Defenders; and the Prison Law Office.
Our 2020-2021 fellow is Linnet Davis-Stermitz. She joined the firm following her clerkships with Judge Michelle Friedland of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Alison Nathan of the Southern District of New York. During law school, Linnet worked at the Special Litigation Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the ACLU of Illinois, Legal Aid Chicago, and the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic, and as an editor on the University of Chicago Law Review. She previously spent two years as a civil rights paralegal at Relman, Dane & Colfax.
Our 2019-2020 fellow was Lark Turner. She is currently clerking for Chief Judge Gregory of the Fourth Circuit and joined the firm following her clerkship on the D.C. Court of Appeals. During law school, following a career in journalism, Lark worked at the Appellate Division of the Public Defender Service of D.C., the Southern Center for Human Rights, Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, and Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and as a research assistant to Professor Laurence Tribe.
Our 2018-2019 fellow was Alexandria Twinem. She joined the firm following her clerkships with Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Alison Nathan of the Southern District of New York. During law school, Alex was the Managing Editor of the Stanford Law Review, a student in the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, and a law clerk at the Southern Center for Human Rights, Goldstein & Russell, and the public-interest firm of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin. After her fellowship, Alex joined Civil Rights Corps as a staff attorney working on criminal-justice-reform litigation.
Our 2017-2018 fellow was Daniel Wilf-Townsend, who was Of Counsel with the firm from 2018-2020 and is now a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. Danny joined us following clerkships with Judge Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Jeffrey Meyer of the District of Connecticut. He was previously a summer associate at Gupta Wessler and also worked at the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the D.C. Public Defender Service. His writing has been published by the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, Slate, and the American Prospect.
Our 2016-2017 fellow was Matthew Spurlock, who joined the firm following a legal fellowship at the national ACLU and judicial clerkships on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Connecticut Supreme Court. Following his fellowship, Matt joined the Massachusetts Public Defender Division, where he now briefs and argues appeals as part of the statewide Appeals Unit.
Our 2015-2016 fellow was Neil K. Sawhney, who completed the fellowship between his clerkships with Justice Goodwin Liu of the Supreme Court of California and Judge Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit. In the fall of 2017, Neil joined the New Orleans office of the Southern Poverty Law Center, where he worked on impact and appellate litigation in the Center’s Economic Justice Project, before rejoining the firm as an Associate.
Summer Associates/Law Students
Each year, the firm selects two or three highly qualified law students (or recent pre-clerkship graduates) to spend the summer working on Supreme Court, appellate, and constitutional litigation at our office in Washington, D.C. We seek students with exceptional writing ability, the capacity to think rigorously and creatively about the law, and a real passion for advocacy in the public interest. We generally hire 2Ls (or 3Ls seeking a position between law school graduation and the start of a judicial clerkship).
Summer associates at Gupta Wessler are given an unparalleled opportunity to take responsibility for challenging legal research and writing projects that directly contribute to public-interest advocacy at the highest levels. They work on briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts on issues of first impression, analyze cutting-edge law and policy issues, and work with lawyers on a range of substantive matters. We vow never to occupy our students with the busywork assignments typical of large firms. We strive to ensure that each student leaves the firm with high-quality writing samples for use in applications for judicial clerkships, public interest fellowships, and other competitive positions. To the extent possible during the summer, we try to expose students to a range of activities, such as moot courts, strategy sessions, client meetings, and oral arguments.
How to apply: The application process for summer 2021 is open. Applicants should email a cover letter, resume, transcript, list of three references, and multiple writing samples (please review the guidance below) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review candidates on a rolling basis until mid-September 2020, but encourage candidates to apply as soon as possible to ensure full consideration. We are committed to considering applicants from all schools and backgrounds, and we actively seek applications from women and underrepresented groups.
Guidance on writing samples: We encourage multiple writing samples (legal or nonlegal) that reflect a student’s most challenging work so far–not just cookie-cutter assignments for first-year legal writing courses. Scholarly papers are welcome (including undergraduate papers), but we prefer to also see at least one in-depth advocacy piece or legal memorandum. We also like to see non-legal writing (including published work) that reveals a student’s general interests and writing ability. We prefer whole documents to excerpts. Samples that have been edited or commented upon by others are perfectly fine so long as that fact is noted. To facilitate blind review, each writing sample should be submitted as a separate PDF file, omitting the applicant’s identifying information (such as name and law school).
* * *
Ana Builes is a third-year law student at Georgetown, where she is a Blume Public Interest Scholar. After graduation, she will clerk for Judge Easterly on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Before working at Gupta Wessler, Ana worked with various impact and appellate litigation groups, including the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic at Georgetown. As a proud immigrant from Colombia, Ana has spent the rest of her time in law school working directly with immigrants on both sides of the border. Prior to law school, Ana worked with coffee farmers around the globe, was a legislative assistant for a member of Congress, and an investigator at the Public Defender Service of D.C.
Diana Li is a third-year law student at Stanford. After graduation, Diana will clerk for Judge Sri Srinivasan on the D.C. Circuit and Judge J. Paul Oetken on the Southern District of New York. Before working at Gupta Wessler, she spent her previous summer working on cases about government benefits, consumer debt, and immigration in the Special Litigation Unit of the New York Legal Assistance Group. She was a student in the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, an editor of the Stanford Law Review, and won best overall team in moot court. Before law school, she worked on refugee aid at the International Rescue Committee and taught debate to female inmates at Rikers Island. In college, Diana won the American Parliamentary Debate Association’s Team of the Year award.
Steffi Ostrowski is a third-year law student at Yale. After graduation, Steffi will clerk for Judge Michelle Friedland on the Ninth Circuit and Judge Vince Chhabria on the Northern District of California. Before working at Gupta Wessler, she spent her previous summer working on consumer-protection cases at the New Economy Project in New York and the Consumer Financial Protection Unit of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. In law school, she was a student in the Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic, an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and co-president of the Law and Political Economy Student Group. Before law school, Steffi worked at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center. She was previously a software engineer at Facebook, where she led projects to promote women’s safety and built software to detect impersonation.
Omari Allen is a third-year law student at Howard University School of Law. He has also been a summer intern at the Natural Resources Defense Council and an extern for Judge Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit, an organizer at the Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and a member of the scheduling and advance team in the Obama White House.
Ela Leshem was the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal and is clerking for Judge David Barron on the First Circuit. Before spending the summer at Gupta Wessler, Ela worked in Public Counsel’s homelessness-prevention and foster-care projects and for Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ela was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where she completed her doctorate in philosophy.
Rajiv Narayan is a Justice Catalyst-Public Rights Project Fellow at the Community Lawyering and Civil Rights Unit of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office and, following his fellowship, will clerk for Justice Leondra Kruger on the California Supreme Court. He worked before law school in the fields of media and public health policy, including a stint as Special Assistant to the New York City Commissioner of Health, and spent last summer at the Oakland City Attorney’s Office. He was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and also holds a masters’ degree in medical anthropology from Oxford.
Bill Powell is clerking for Judge Sri Srinivasan on the D.C. Circuit and Judge Randolph Moss on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. After graduating from law school, he spent one year as the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Bill spent several years before law school as a reporter and an editor, at newspapers and at magazines. In law school, he co-directed the Capital Assistance Project.
Emily Villano is completing a fellowship at Public Justice following her clerkship with Judge Merrick Garland on the D.C. Circuit. During law school, she was a student in the Workers & Immigrants Rights Clinic, where she has worked on challenges to the Trump Administration’s termination of the DACA program, and previously worked for the National Day Laborers Organizing Network.
Michael Morse is clerking for Judge Myron Thompson on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and Judge Marsha Berzon on the Ninth Circuit. He has worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights and The New Yorker magazine, where he was a research assistant to Ryan Lizza and Jane Mayer. He is also completing his Ph.D. in government and writes about felon disenfranchisement and fines and fees.
Nicola (Nika) Cohen is currently a Bristow Fellow at the Office of the Solicitor General and was previously a Phillips Fellow in that office. She clerked for Judge John Owens of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Ronnie Abrams of the Southern District of New York and has also worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Center for Appellate Litigation, the Legal Aid Society, and on death row cases as a law student.
Matteo Godi recently completed clerkships with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit. Matteo is also Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School, where he will be co-teaching a new course on “Torts and Regulation” next year. During law school, he worked at NAACP LDF, Equal Justice Under Law, and the D.C. Public Defender Service. Matteo grew up in a small town in northern Italy and is the first in his family to attend college; he is co-authoring the first casebook on Italian constitutional law.
Michael Zuckerman is a Skadden Fellow at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, where he focuses on helping people who have been involved in the criminal-justice system overcome barriers to employment, housing, and other aspects of a flourishing life. He recently completed a clerkship with Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the U.S. Supreme Court and previously clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore on the Sixth Circuit. Mike was the President of the Harvard Law Review, worked on criminal appeals at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, has published his journalism on the legal system and other topics, and was a research assistant to David Gergen. Read about Mike in the Washington Post here.
Brian Highsmith researches and writes about inequality and fiscal federalism. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in government and social policy at Harvard and was previously a researcher at the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law at Yale Law School and a Skadden Fellow at the National Consumer Law Center, where launched a new project focused on the collection of criminal-justice debt. He previously worked on economic policy as a fellow with Senator Cory Booker, on consumer litigation at South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center and New York Legal Assistance Group and, before law school, as a staffer focused on antipoverty policy in the National Economic Council of the Obama White House.
Lina Khan is an Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she researches and writes about antitrust law and competition policy. She previously served as Majority Counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, a Legal Fellow for Commissioner Rohit Chopra at the Federal Trade Commission, and Director of Legal Policy at the Open Markets Institute. Lina’s pioneering work on antitrust reform has been profiled in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post, among other places.
Jaclyn (Jax) Harris is an attorney in the Neighborhood Law Corps of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office. The Neighborhood Law Corps is a special unit focusing on difficult issues facing neighborhoods—such as human trafficking, substandard housing, and public safety. Jax was previously a a Yale Public Interest Fellow with the City Attorney’s Community Lawyering & Civil Rights Unit, where her fellowship focused on institutional development of the unit as well as housing litigation and policy. During law school, she worked at NAACP LDF, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Public Counsel.
Rachel F. Homer is an Attorney at Protect Democracy–a new nonprofit aimed at preventing our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. She previously served on the civil appellate staff of the U.S. Department of Justice. Rachel clerked for Judge Diane Wood on the Seventh Circuit and Judge John Bates on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and previously worked at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the Democratic National Committee, and in various posts in the Obama administration.
Daniel Wilf-Townsend rejoined the firm in 2017 as a Fellow in Appellate & Constitutional Litigation, spent an additional year with the firm as a Justice Catalyst Fellow, and is now a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches legal research and writing and writes about civil procedure and consumer protection. Danny clerked for Judge Marsha Berzon on the Ninth Circuit and Judge Jeffrey Meyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Randall Smith clerked for Judge Christopher Droney of the Second Circuit and for Justice Barbara Lenk of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and currently practices as a Managing Associate with the Supreme Court and appellate litigation group at Orrick.
Tara Stearns, the firm’s first summer student, clerked for Chief Judge Roger Gregory on the Fourth Circuit and is now an appellate litigator focused on workers’ rights in the Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor.
The firm also occasionally hires law students during the academic year. Our first such student was Bradley Girard, who now teaches and practices as a fellow in the Appellate Immersion Clinic at Georgetown Law. Bradley previously clerked for Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey on the Sixth Circuit and Neil Kravitz of the D.C. Superior Court and was a litigation fellow for two years at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
We also worked during the school year with Shelby Leighton, who completed the Supreme Court Assistance Project fellowship at Public Citizen Litigation Group, served as a fellow at Cohen Milstein, and clerked for Judge Kermit Lipez on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in her home state of Maine.
Past Summer Associate Experiences
I would highly recommend spending a summer working with the lawyers at Gupta Wessler. Their promise not to give their summer associates busywork is a real one—I had two main assignments over the course of the summer, both of which were challenging and engaging. During the first half of the summer, I helped draft sections of a brief in the Second Circuit for a fascinating, long-running international environmental dispute. After that, I drafted a brief in opposition to cert in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Article III standing. Along the way, I also got to weigh in on briefs in the firm’s other matters as they were being written and filed. Throughout these assignments, the lawyers at Gupta Wessler were dedicated to helping me improve, not only in my understanding of the subject matter but also in my understanding of the craft of legal writing. They also integrated me into conversations about the firm’s work on new and ongoing cases, and discussions about the public interest litigation community more broadly. It was an excellent summer—the kind of work and environment that make you excited to one day be a lawyer. – Danny Wilf-Townsend
Over the course of the summer, I worked on a number of interesting projects—a Ninth Circuit brief on whether federal transportation law preempts California’s wage and hour protections; a Second Circuit brief on the scope of individual employer liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and a successful Supreme Court cert petition on novel constitutional issues raised by a restrictive state freedom of information law. I also helped advise a public health organization on the potential for federal preemption of local initiatives. Every project gave me the unique opportunity to work on difficult, cutting edge legal issues that could have a significant impact on worker’s rights, consumer protection, and individual liberties. I enjoyed working closely with the firm’s attorneys on every aspect of the cases, and learned a lot about how to analyze complex legal issues, how to structure a piece of writing, and how to approach the strategic decisions that go into every stage of public interest litigation. – Tara Stearns
I contributed to a case throughout its evolution, from preparing portions of an early memorandum conceptualizing First Amendment and vagueness challenges to the law, to participating in strategy sessions with trial counsel, to drafting a brief in support of a motion for a preliminary injunction against New York’s anti-surcharge law. I had never before had the opportunity to watch the development of a case from the initial brainstorming to oral arguments. The experience provided insights into the theoretical and practical questions involved in public interest litigation. I also gained experience with appellate litigation by drafting the opening brief in an appeal before the Fourth Circuit involving the interpretation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I enjoyed the challenge of drafting the brief for this case from scratch, and learned from seeing how my draft was edited and revised by experienced appellate advocates. The firm’s small size gave me a unique opportunity to learn from experienced lawyers and to cultivate my legal research and writing skills. Because of my experience with the firm, I felt better prepared as I began my clerkship, and know it will help me as I apply for post-clerkship employment. – Randall Smith