MSU Law students travel to New Orleans for Judicial Clerkship Program


Students taking part in the Judicial Clerk Mentorship Program include (l-r) Estella Riahi, Taylor Mills, Andrew Haftkowycz, Kristina Pedersen and Ayan Ajeen.

Photo courtesy of MSU Law

By Jake Jenkins

Five students were awarded the opportunity to travel to New Orleans for the American Bar Association’s Clerkship Program in February.

The Harold & Franzine Henderson Judicial Clerk Mentorship Program is intended to support MSU Law’s efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion and to enable MSU to fully support students who wish to participate in the American Bar Association -- Judicial Clerkship Program. (ABA-JCP).

“The program is designed to bring judges and underrepresented law students together,” said Sally Rice, Development Manager for Advancement at MSU Law. “This establishes structured networking and educational activities that encourage them to apply for judicial clerkships.”

Since 2001, the ABA-JCP has been held in conjunction with the ABA’s Annual Midyear Meeting. The ABA desires to partner with ABA-accredited law schools and legal practitioners in a change-agent program to directly impact the pipeline of diverse individuals in judicial clerkship positions.

Harold Henderson, an MSU alumnus and friend of the MSU College of Law, donated a generous gift to support MSU Law students who wish to participate in the ABA-JCP.

“I was able to participate thanks to the generosity of the Harold and Franzine Henderson JCP,” said Kristina Pedersen, ’24. “Since I do not have any lawyers in my immediate family, it was a great way for me to get to meet judges and see what exactly a judicial clerkship entails.”

Pedersen along with another student, Andrew Haftkowycz, ’24, both enjoyed the experience of being around a variety of lawyers and judges, making connections and receiving professional tips.

“We were able to watch oral arguments with the Court of Appeals and connect with lawyers and judges,” Haftkowycz said. “The part that fascinated me was seeing the outpouring of help in every professional I met. From resume-building to seeing an opinion through the eyes of a judge, it was a whirlwind legal education.”

“We had over 40 different judges from all over the country and from all different levels talking to us about what they do and why they think judicial clerkships are important,” Pedersen said. “They took the time to really talk to us and mentor us in small groups while even reviewing our resumes and giving us tips on how to make them stronger.”

This program has been beneficial to many students within the law college and students who have experienced it will be the first to encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Pedersen said. “You get to network with a diverse group of judges and law students, and I have gained mentors that I know I will be seeking guidance from in the future as I continue my path as a lawyer.”

“If you're not sure about whether you should apply, you're exactly the person they are targeting,” Haftkowycz said. “This program is all about helping people who don't have every resource available to them in the legal industry.”

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