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, government, and political campaigns.
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
Legal assistants at Gupta Wessler handle a very broad range of administrative and substantive responsibilities for our small but busy law firm and are usually the first point of contact for new clients and cases. One of our former legal assistants has described the job as “an apprenticeship in high-stakes public-interest appellate advocacy.” We’re proud that our legal assistants have gone on to pursue careers in public interest law.
Responsibilities include drafting, editing, printing, formatting, and filing legal documents; scheduling and arranging meetings, speaking appearances, and travel; general administrative tasks, including keeping on top of telephone calls and emails for the firm’s lawyers; research relating to cases; developing newsletters and other mailings; and other tasks as assigned.
This job is ideal for college graduates who are contemplating law school or graduate school. We typically look for a bright and energetic college graduate with an interest in the work we do and strong organizational, interpersonal, and communications skills. Other relevant qualifications include: being detail oriented and able to prioritize multiple projects; effectively solving problems while remaining calm in deadline-driven situations; good writing and editing, with an interest in continually improving your own skills as a writer.
How to apply: We are not currently seeking any additional legal assistants.
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Jared Milfred is an office manager and legal assistant with the firm. 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, and is deferring admission to Yale Law School.
Abigail Cipparone is an office manager and legal assistant with 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.
Nabila Abdallah was the firm’s office manager and legal assistant through the summer of 2019, and is an incoming first-year student at Berkeley 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 office manager and legal assistant through the summer of 2017 and is now a third-year student at Yale Law School. She is pursuing summer internships at Alaska Legal Services Corporation and Public Citizen Litigation Group and will clerk after graduation for Judge Pamela Harris on the Fourth Circuit. Before joining Gupta Wessler, Steph 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 office manager and legal assistant, earned his law degree from Georgetown 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 control.
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: We are accepting applications for the 2020-2021 fellowship. This position is based in Washington, D.C. 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, but encourage candidates to apply by August 25 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: 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.
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Our 2019-2020 fellow is Lark Turner. She joins the firm between clerkships with Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit and Judge Catharine Easterly of 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 is 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. Alex is not admitted in the District of Columbia, and is practicing under the supervision of attorneys at the firm.
Our 2017-2018 fellow was Daniel Wilf-Townsend, who remains with the firm as Of Counsel and 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 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 works on impact and appellate litigation in the Center’s Economic Justice Project.
Summer Associates/Law Students
Each year, the firm selects two or three highly qualified law students (or recent pre-clerkship graduates) to work 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.
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).
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Rajiv Narayan 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 in the Community Lawyering and Civil Rights Unit of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office. He also holds a masters’ degree in medical anthropology from Oxford University. After graduation, Rajiv will clerk for Justice Leondra Kruger on the California Supreme Court.
Ela Leshem has worked at Public Counsel, on its 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. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. Before law school, Ella was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where she completed a doctorate in philosophy. After graduation, Ela will clerk for Judge David Barron on the First Circuit.
Bill Powell 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. Bill is currently an Ethics & Excellent in Journalism Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and will clerk for Judge Sri Srinivasan of the D.C. Circuit and Judge Randall Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Emily Villano is 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. Emily is clerking for Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit.
Michael Morse 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. In addition to law school, Michael is also pursuing a Ph.D. in political science and writes about voting rights. After graduation, he will clerk for Judge Myron Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and Judge Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit.
Nicola (Nika) Cohen is clerking for Judge John Owens of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Ronnie Abrams of the Southern District of New York. Nika was a Phillips Fellow at the Office of the Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice and worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Center for Appellate Litigation, the Legal Aid Society, and on death row cases as a student.
Matteo Godi is clerking for Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 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 clerking for Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the U.S. Supreme Court and previously clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the Sixth Circuit. Mike was 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 is a Skadden Fellow at the National Consumer Law Center, where he is launching 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 Majority Counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, on leave as an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School, where she researches and writes about antitrust law and competition policy. She previously served as Legal Fellow for Commissioner Rohit Chopra at the Federal Trade Commission and as 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.
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 currently on the civil appellate staff of the U.S. Department of Justice. She 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 us as a Justice Catalyst Fellow, and is now Of Counsel to the firm. He 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