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.
How to apply: We are no longer accepting applications for the summer of 2020. The application process for the summer 2021 will open in August 2020. 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 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).
Diana Li spent last 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 spent last 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 as 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 womens’ safety and built software to detect impersonation.
Omari Allen is a second-year law student at Howard University and worked as an intern at Gupta Wessler during the school year. He is a summer intern at the Natural Resources Defense Council and previously worked as an extern for Judge Marsha Berzon on 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 will clerk 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 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 in the Community Lawyering and Civil Rights Unit of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office. He is an editor of the Harvard Law Review and also holds a masters’ degree in medical anthropology from Oxford.
Bill Powell is currently an Ethics & Excellence 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. He 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 currently clerking for Judge Merrick Garland of 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 of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and Judge Marsha Berzon of 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 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 will rejoin that office as a Bristow Fellow. She 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 is clerking for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit. 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 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 of 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 is currently a researcher at the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law at Yale Law School and recently completed a Skadden Fellowship 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. Brian researches inequality and fiscal federalism and is starting a Ph.D. at Harvard this year.
Lina Khan is Majority Counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and 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, 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 us as a Justice Catalyst Fellow, and is now Of Counsel to the firm and an incoming Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. 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.