Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Court of Appeals Hosts Students in Pasadena

Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals welcomed students to the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena on November 12, 2013. About 50 senior class students from La Canada High School visited the court as part of a Ninth Circuit civics program organized by the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles

Monday, November 25, 2013

Central District of California Bankruptcy Court Honors Pro Bono Volunteers

As a participant in the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Celebration, held the week of October 20, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California honored 307 pro bono attorneys, students, and paralegals who assisted self-represented parties in the district throughout the year.  An annual event, National Pro Bono Celebration Week is held during the third week of October and is promoted by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.  Since 2011, the court has participated by publishing an Honor Roll listing the names of volunteers, which are submitted by the pro bono organizations that serve visitors to each of the court’s five divisions.  This year, the court’s Pro Se Committee added to this tradition by hosting its first Celebration of Pro Bono Volunteers, made possible by support from the Central District’s Attorney Admission Fund.

The celebration, organized by the court’s Pro Se Committee, included an afternoon reception at the Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on October 24.  During the event, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Peter H. Carroll spoke about the difference the volunteers make in the lives of those who can least afford access to the legal system.  Among those who attended the event to personally express their appreciation to the volunteers were Bankruptcy Judge Maureen A. Tighe, chair of the Pro Se Committee; Bankruptcy Judges Julia W. Brand, Catherine E. Bauer, Thomas B. Donovan, Sandra R. Klein, and Vincent P. Zurzolo; and Clerk of Court/Executive Officer Kathleen J. Campbell.  Copies of the 2012 Pro Se Annual Report were provided, along with Celebrate Pro Bono certificates for each of the volunteers. 

The Honor Roll is published on the Court’s website, as well as a letter from Chief Judge Peter H. Carroll acknowledging the extraordinary efforts of the volunteers and the positive impact they have on not only the parties themselves, but also the Court and the public.  Self-represented filings continue to comprise approximately one quarter of the Court’s total filings, even as the number of total filings decreases.  The assistance of pro bono volunteers streamlines these cases, which are often delayed due to the difficulty parties meet trying to complete their cases without attorney representation.  The benefits of pro bono assistance are far-reaching, because they allow the Court to operate with greater efficiency and enhance access to justice and service to the public.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Central District Judges Speak to Law Students About Externship Opportunities

On October 21, 2013, more than 100 eager law students attended a Federal Judicial Externship Panel hosted by Loyola Law School.  The event was designed to inform students about the nature of externship programs in the federal courts and the hiring process.  The panel featured three judges from the Central District of California: United States Bankruptcy Judge Sandra R. Klein, U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, and U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal.  The judges were joined by Angella D. Yates, law clerk to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Neil W. Bason, who is involved in Loyola's externship program and serves as a mentor to Loyola students seeking judicial externships and clerkships.

The panelists discussed a wide range of topics, including judges’ selection criteria for externs, the “do’s and don’ts” of interviewing, and the type of work assigned to externs in their respective courts.  They also emphasized that externs have the opportunity to observe many different court proceedings.
Judge Segal advised students that the most important thing to get out of their externship is to improve their legal research and writing skills.  “It is how lawyers communicate, and it is the most important thing you will do in your career,” she said.  “An externship will teach you to succinctly and persuasively get the attention of the judge,” Judge O’Connell added.

In addition to discussing how valuable the experience can be for law students, the panelists also noted that the “fresh perspective” from externs and their enthusiasm for learning are highly appreciated in chambers.  Judge Klein, who moderated the event, said that she uses the externship program as a chance to both teach and learn from the students.  She also described the high level of staff interaction within chambers and referred to her law clerks and externs as “family.” 

The benefits of the externship program were strongly echoed when former externs at the event talked about their own experiences.  When asked which aspect of his externship surprised him the most, Joshua Aberman, former extern to Judge O’Connell, replied, “The level of responsibility you get at the start.”  Ahree Song, former extern to Judge Klein, said that she was most surprised by how accessible and approachable the judge was.  Angella Yates mentioned that bankruptcy cases involve a broad range of legal issues and that externing for a judge can be the first step to a post-graduate judicial clerkship. 

The event had a great turnout and was an overwhelming success.  It was a truly unique opportunity for law students to hear firsthand how a judicial externship can supplement and enrich their legal education and their legal careers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

OSHER Students Visit Federal Courts in San Diego

Over 30 students from San Diego State University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute visited the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on November 7, 2013.  The students, ages 55 and over, toured all three courthouses and met with Bankruptcy Judge Margaret M. Mann and Senior District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller.  They learned about the federal court system from Clerk of Court W. Samuel Hamrick, Jr., and observed bankruptcy court proceedings and district court sentencings. They had an opportunity to hear from representatives of local branches of the Office of the Clerk, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Office of the Federal Public Defender, U.S. Probation Office, U.S. Marshals Service and even the warden of Metropolitan Correctional Center. It was an excellent opportunity for the group to learn about their court system.