UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On Feb. 2-4, four Penn State Law students traveled to Miami to participate in the Judicial Clerkship Program portion of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) annual mid-year meeting, sponsored by the ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. Carlos Camandang, Nia Fung, Vanessa Miller, and Angel Shah all applied to the program individually, and after acceptance, were able to travel to the event together, under sponsorship from Student Services.
As the ABA took over downtown Miami with programs all over the city, the Penn State Law 2Ls joined approximately 90 other law students from participating law schools across the country in the program created to encourage more minorities to become judicial clerks. Seventy-five judges from all levels of the judiciary were present to talk about their experiences, as well as why diversity in the judiciary is so important. One of the judges participating was the Hon. Toni E. Clarke, a Penn State alumna and Associate Judge on the 7th Judicial Circuit in Prince George’s County, Maryland, who yelled Penn State’s signature “We are” chant from the stage.
“These judges, whether they themselves were minorities or not, cared about diversity,” said Camandang. “They want to encourage minorities in the judiciary, and they actually care about helping them get there.”
In addition to the judge panels, the event also included a group research project and a résumé workshop. With attendees from various aspects of the legal profession, including current and former White House staffers, attorneys, and scholars, another benefit to the event was the ability to network.
“This was a gathering of people – attorneys, students, judges – to talk about issues that are important,” said Miller. “Diversity is for everyone; it applies to everyone. This is something we all need to work on together, to increase diversity in the judiciary.”