September 26, 2013

Article sizes up Justice Liu’s experiment with term law clerks

As we have previously discussed, Justice Goodwin Liu is unique on the state Supreme Court in his employment of three term law clerks in addition to two permanent staff attorneys.  In an article in last Monday’s issue of the Daily Journal [subscription required], Emily Green reports on the initial results of Justice Liu’s ongoing experiment with term clerks now that his first set of clerks have finished their terms and moved on.  She quotes Liu as being pleased with the practice.  He said that, while it takes time to train annual clerks and get them up to speed, it is “effort well spent.”  Liu said he values the balance between the “fresh perspective” of term clerks—almost always recent law schools grads—and the “many years of experience” of his permanent staff attorneys.

Green quotes one of Liu’s term clerks, Kathleen Vermazen Radez, as saying joining the Court as a term clerk was like “‘jumping into a very high-level game where everyone knew what was going on.  There was no starting at the basics and working your way up.’”  Radez said Liu emphasized in-depth analysis to his clerks, asking “‘not only what is the rule but how did we get there and why is that the rule.’”

Interestingly, Green reports that two of Liu’s term clerks are now moving on to clerk for two prominent federal judges for whom Liu previously clerked:  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  Of this development, Green quotes Liu as saying he feels like he is “‘keeping them in the family.’”


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