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  • August 03, 2022

    Diversity Clerkship Program: Celebrating a Summer of Learning

    For the clerks of the 2022 State Bar of Wisconsin Diversity Clerkship Program, the summer offered confirmation of their decision to enter the legal profession. Join us in congratulating the legal employers participating in the Diversity Clerkship Program – their commitment boosts the future careers of 27 law students.

    Shannon Green

    James Cimermancic and Odalo Ohiku fistbump

    James Cimermancic (left) and Odalo Ohiku, deputy city attorney at the Milwaukee City Attorney's Office (right),​​​ celebrate Cimermancic's summer clerkship. For more photos of the event, visit the State Bar of Wisconsin's Facebook page.

    Aug. 3, 2022 – For first-year law students, it is an opportunity to learn about the daily life of lawyers – and confirms that a legal career is indeed where they belong.

    For their employers, it allows them to shape the up-and-coming legal talent and provides an opportunity to show the students new areas of practice.

    This month, 27 first-year Marquette University and U.W. law school students will complete their first legal summer internships, via the State Bar of Wisconsin Diversity Clerkship Program. The program matches first-year law students of diverse backgrounds with legal offices for a 10-week clerkship.

    The clerks and employers celebrated the program and their successes at a reception July 21, held at the State Bar Center in Madison.

    Students’ First Experiences of Legal Work

    The rising 2L clerks include James Cimermancic, matched with the Milwaukee City Attorney’s office, whose experience he describes as “inspiring.” He admits he was anxious about whether law school was the right place for him. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many different areas of law. My experience really showed me that this is where I belong,” he said.

    Kaitlin Clancy, who clerked with GE Healthcare, said her experience was “immersive” and “very challenging and exciting. I hit the ground running on Day One.” The experience, she said, confirms her commitment to becoming a lawyer.

    Anna Malcom, who clerked with Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC, said her experience was “everything I’ve been looking for, including how to be a lawyer. This summer has made me confident that I want to be a lawyer, and I love it.”

    Omar Cancio, who clerked with the Madison City Attorney’s Office, said he found the experience “engaging.” Every day, he said, “there was a new area of law that I’d never seen before. Rather than being on the sidelines, I was thrown into the process. Being part of that process was fantastic.”

    Dominique Fortune, clerking for Meisner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C., got answers about a civil litigation practice her first day. “I saw the team collaborate and enthusiastically help each other out. They also made me feel I was there for a reason, and they were invested in me. I was able to contribute and also make mistakes. My clerkship showed me that this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do.”

    Two participants sit and smile, with the clerk holding his certificate

    Matthew Torres (left) holds his clerkship certificate next to Souvit Townes of Ohiku Law Office, Milwaukee (right).​

    Another Strong Year for the Program

    This year, 26 employers provided 27 Wisconsin law school students with summer internships – among the most since the program began nearly 30 years ago.

    The program, now in its 30th year, has assisted more than 525 students gain experience working as a lawyer. Judge Kori Ashley is chair of the State Bar Diversity & Inclusion Oversight Committee, which works closely with the Law Student Outreach Subcommittee, chaired by Wesley Warren.

    “The program is very competitive,” Judge Ashley said. “We had 76 applications this year.”

    The program also included seven new employers that join those participating for many years – such as Northwestern Mutual, which has been with the program since 1994.

    Miguel Villanueva and Jennifer Johnson pose enthusiastically

    Legal Action of Milwaukee's Jennifer Johnson (right) celebrates her clerk, Miguel Villanueva (left).​

    What the Employers Have to Say

    Employers offered insights on their experiences with the clerks and the program, including these comments:

    Shannon Green Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.

    “I would definitely recommend this program to other employers, since it not only provides students with much needed real-world experience, but it also provides employers with the ability to develop the future leaders of our profession.” – Carlos Pabellon, Interim Corporation Counsel with Dane County

    “Don Kyun quickly integrated into the office’s day-to-day rhythm. He showed initiative and willingness to learn a wide variety of legal subjects. Don held the tradition of excellence within the State Bar Diversity Clerkship Program.” – Glen Mercier, Wisconsin Department of Corrections

    “Dusty Gross has jumped right in to assist with a wide range of projects. In tackling these projects, Dusty has demonstrated her ability to ask the right questions, complete projects on time (even ahead of schedule), and learn about the business. Most of all, Dusty has fit right in with our team and has been a pleasure to work with.” – Sarah Apple, Regal Rexnord

    “We greatly enjoyed having Jori LaRosa work with us in the department’s Special Litigation & Appeals unit. She is very thorough in her legal research and analysis and has great attention to detail. She has a curious legal mind; she asks the right questions and raises issues that help contribute to our work on cases.” – Brian Keenan, Wisconsin Department of Justice

    “Our law clerk, Alex Gordon, is among the best law clerks our firm has ever had – so my sincere gratitude for this program. Alex is super-smart, eager to learn and conscientious. He immediately fit right in. We have tried to expose him to many different types of cases and legal issues.” – Patricia Putney, Bell Moore & Richter, SC

    “This year was our company’s first year participating in the Diversity Clerkship Program, and we could not be more pleased. Our clerk (Shannon Kennedy) has been a great asset to our Commercial Legal Team and brings a great energy to the workplace. We plan to participate in the program again next year.” – Kohler Co.

    “We really enjoyed Susan this summer at Quartz. She was eager to learn, sought to understand the ‘why’ behind any action, and really dug into some complex legal issues. She is a passionate and energetic advocate for those not well represented in the legal community.” – Jack Williams, Quartz Health Benefits

    “We have so enjoyed having Anna Malcolm with us this summer. Her personality, professionalism, and enthusiasm for the law have been an energizing and welcome addition to the office. She asks terrific questions and is always willing to lend a helping hand, even on challenging projects. We know that we are benefiting from her presence, her intelligence, and her perspective on our team. It is a true demonstration of how this program is mutually beneficial to both clerk and employer.” – Stephane Fabus, Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC

    “Iseah Hurtado and Armando Garcia have been a welcome addition to Molson Coors during the summer clerkship term. Both Iseah and Armando seamlessly meshed with the rest of the legal team and both exhibited exceptional writing and research skills. They are sure to be major contributors to the Wisconsin legal community.” – Collin Johnson, Molson Coors Beverage Company

    “The Legal team at Zendesk has really enjoyed working with Nathaniel Edwards this summer. Nate has been able to gain valuable experience in a variety of practice areas, and experience firsthand that in-house legal team members are a key part to the business and must remain humble and empathetic in their interactions with their business partners in order to build strong working relationships.” – Christopher Smithka, Zendesk

    Diversity Clerkship Program group photo with participants smiling at the camera

    The 2022 Diversity Clerkship program clerks included a total of 27 participants​.

    Special Thanks to Our 2022 Employers

    • Alliant Energy Co.
    • Bell Moore & Richter, S.C.
    • Cade Law Group LLC
    • Church Mutual Insurance Co.
    • Dane County Corporate Counsel
    • Fiserv Inc.
    • GE Healthcare
    • Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC
    • Hawks Quindel, S.C.
    • Johnson Teigan Attorneys at Law
    • Kohler Co.
    • Legal Action Of Wisconsin Inc
    • Madison City Attorney’s Office
    • Meissner Tierney
    • Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office
    • Molson Coors Beverage Company
    • Northwestern Mutual
    • Ogden Glazer & Schaefer
    • Ohiku Law Office
    • Quartz Health Solutions
    • Racine City Attorney’s Office
    • Regal Rexnord Beloit
    • Stafford Rosenbaum LLP
    • Wisconsin Department of Corrections
    • Wisconsin Department of Justice
    • Zendesk
    Wisconsin Law Foundation banner logo

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation sponsored the Diversity Clerkship Program reception July 21 and offers ongoing support to the State Bar of Wisconsin Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee as well as the State Bar’s diversity efforts. The Law Foundation is the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

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