The State Bar of Wisconsin Diversity Clerkship Program, a limited-term summer employment experience, gives first-year law students with diverse backgrounds the opportunity to bulid legal practice skills and knowledge. The program, now in its 29th year, has graduated more than 500 students. Shown above are students from the 2019 class.
Jan. 6, 2021 – Employers: Here’s your chance to get to know the up-and-coming generation of law students. Law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies are needed for the 2021 Diversity Clerkship Program.
The State Bar’s Diversity Clerkship Program is a limited-term, summer employment experience that gives first-year law students with diverse backgrounds the opportunity to build legal practice skills and knowledge. Participating employers provide a paid, 10-week summer clerkship opportunity for a first-year law student with a diverse background.
The program, now in its 29th year, matches students with private law firms, corporate legal departments, and governmental agencies for summer law clerk employment. Employers provide students with the opportunity to build legal practice skills and knowledge.
Student clerks gain practical legal experience, and participating employers obtain valuable legal support.
Over its lifetime, the program has facilitated nearly 500 clerkships for law students of diverse backgrounds. By participating in the program, “employers have an opportunity to contribute toward the professional development of a diverse law student who hopefully will remain in Wisconsin to diversify the Wisconsin legal profession,” said Andrew Chevrez, chair of the State Bar Diversity & Inclusion Oversight Committee’s Law Student Outreach Subcommittee.
COVID and Clerkship: 2020 Challenges Continue
As with most 2020 summer clerkships, the COVID-19 pandemic had a disruptive impact on the Diversity Clerkship Program, says Chevrez.
“Thanks to our employers who remained steadfast with their commitment, we were able to persevere with our program last year,” he said. “As we move into 2021, law students are finding fewer opportunities – so the students are in even more need of a summer clerkship opportunity in 2021.”
It is not only the students who benefit, say employers participating in the program. Here are comments from employers who participated in 2020:
Joining the State Bar’s clerkship program was a “no-brainer,” said Scott Thompson of the Madison office of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP. “The program makes finding new potential associates an easy task.”
“We need employees of all backgrounds. Having a diversity of viewpoints is key to a company trying to innovate and transform itself,” said Lissa Koop, senior attorney with Alliant Energy in Madison. “And we’ve learned that, with law students, you need to get into that pipeline early as a way to develop and elevate talent.”
Participating in the clerkship program is a win-win for everyone involved. “It’s a great way to expose students from diverse backgrounds to civil litigation,” said Patti Putney of Bell Moore & Richter. “And having people from all walks of life in our firm inures to our benefit of the firm as a whole.”
Where to Find Out More
For more information or to express interest in the program, please contact Jeneise Briggs, State Bar of Wisconsin diversity and inclusion specialist, at (608) 250-6083, by Jan. 15, 2021.
Learn about the 2020 clerks and employers, and how they met the challenge of practicing and learning during the summer of COVID-19.
Visit WisBar.org to learn more about the State Bar’s Diversity Clerkship Program.