How Clerkship Transparency Creates Stronger Lawyers feat. Aliza Shatzman

Aliza Shatzman is a judicial clerkship advocate. After a poor clerkship experience, Aliza created the Legal Accountability Project to bring transparency and accountability to the federal clerkship process. Find out how this pioneer and founder ensures the next generation of clerks is protected from bad judges.

LISTEN TO LEARN

  • How law students find judicial clerkships
  • The clerkship whisper network
  • What are affinity bar associations
  • Why law schools and administrators are involved in the lack of a transparent judicial clerkship process

WE ALSO DISCUSS

  • The Power of non-profit organizations
  • OSCAR for judicial clerks and the prevalence of paper clerkship applications
  • How to avoid judges who mistreat their clerks
How Clerkship Transparency Creates Stronger Lawyers feat. Aliza Shatzman

<iframe width="100%" height="180" frameborder="no" scrolling="no" seamless src="https://share.transistor.fm/e/99beef62"></iframe>

How Clerkship Transparency Creates Stronger Lawyers feat. Aliza ShatzmanHow Clerkship Transparency Creates Stronger Lawyers feat. Aliza Shatzman

About This Episode

The Power of Judicial Clerkships

Clerkships are an important tool for lawyers interested in working in academia, trial lawyers, and Big Law associates, and they are a great way to hone your legal writing and reading skills. During the spring semester of 1L year, many law students participate in on-campus interviewing to work for large law firms or with governmental agencies. Kyla Denanyoh was surprised to learn that judicial clerkships are not “pitched” or hold job fair-type events at law schools to find law students.

How to Bring Transparency to Judicial Clerkships

Improving the clerkship process requires law students and alums must understand what judicial clerkships are and who the judges are. The messaging about clerkships is uniformly positive, and that's a big problem. Law students are not being honest. Law schools need to share their limited information about judicial clerkships. The judiciary is not holding unfair judges accountable for their malicious actions.

Law schools can pay to have law students take surveys about their treatment during a judicial clerkship. Law schools keep these records private, and many law students are dishonest on the surveys. Aliza Shatzman created a Clerkship Database which allows law students to share information about their treatment during their judicial clerkship, whether the work environment is hostile, and students can access the database. 

To participate with the Clerkship Database, law schools pay a fee then request that current law students and alums complete anonymous surveys about their clerkship experiences.

“Homogenizing clerkships has implications for fairness in judicial decision-making, whose writing, researching, and advising on the opinions also impacts the future of the [legal] profession, explains Aliza Shatzman in Episode 96 of the You Are A Lawyer podcast.

How to find a Judicial Clerkship

It depends. One of the many reasons Aliza Shatzman created the Legal Accountability Project is the lack of transparency in clerking. Aliza shares that many judges need to announce their clerkship vacancies, and judges need to share what they are looking for in a judicial clerkship. So these roles as judicial clerks will make a LARGE impact on a lawyer’s career, skillset, reputation, and access to networking and other lawyers when these clerkships magically appear.

As a transfer law student, Aliza didn’t have many grades from Washington University in Saint Louis when applying for clerkships and found a clerkship with the Southern District of Illinois. A few days a week, Aliza Shatzman would extern with the Southern District of Illinois. 

Professors and clerkship directors will encourage students to seek a judicial clerkship. However, there is a common and familiar story of clerkships being challenging but character-building. Aliza relied on her clerkship and the guidance of the clerkship directors to steer her on the correct path and toward a reputable judge. 

Considering the outsized influence that a clerkship and the relationship with your judge have on your future career success, there really needs to be more transparency in clerkships, explains Aliza Shatzman in Episode 96 of You Are A Lawyer. 

However, until law schools and law students understand how to identify a damaging clerkship, there needs to be more transparency. Aliza Shatzman created the Legal Accountability Project to demand and expand upon transparency and the "democratization of data." And spoiler alert: harassment and discrimination are unacceptable, period. As a judicial clerk, perks are vast networking opportunities, career advancements, and professional gains from judicial clerks. But it's irrational that a judicial clerk must endure a volatile workplace in exchange for a glowing reference letter.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iJ1wc5BYIR4" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Whistleblowing in the Judiciary

Aliza told the HR department about the harassment and gender-based discrimination she faced during her judicial clerkship. The HR department didn’t do anything. Then Aliza contacted her law school and was informed that the judge’s conduct had not raised any flags or concerns.

There are multiple levels of harassment - Aliza received harassment and a poor reputation with a job revoked. But there are also issues that a lawyer would face when they appear before a judge. Judges have enormous power, and judiciary workplaces are exempt from Title VII of the Fair Employment practices that regulate workplace conduct, which is backward and impractical. There are state and federal bar rules and judicial rules of conduct, but other judges need to enforce these rules. 

Despite her experiences, Aliza wants to maintain judicial clerkships. Aliza created the Clerkships Database, which allows law schools to pay to have their law school participate in the database and leave true and honest references about 

“Schools should not have a monopoly on all the judges. Schools have a ceiling of [which judges] they can keep track of,” explains Aliza Shatzman on the You Are A Lawyer podcast. 

What Can You Do with a Law Degree

Aliza Shatzman did not have a positive judicial clerkship experience. Aliza received negative references when her clerkship ended, and her employment position was revoked. However, Aliza took the unfair situation and decided to rally for every future judicial clerk. 

When Aliza Shatzman created the Legal Accountability Project, she wanted to ensure that other clerks would learn from her terrible clerkship experience. Aliza is frequently contacted by members from affinity student bar associations, for example, LGBT, Haitian-American, Arab-American, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing, Japanese-American, and Black American bar members.

“Judges are notoriously unwilling to discipline their own colleagues,” shares Aliza Shatzman on the You Are A Lawyer podcast.

Lawyer Side Hustles

Although Aliza Shatzman has always enjoyed public speaking and writing, traveling to law schools, teaching CLEs, and sharing her experiences are valuable assets to revolutionizing the clerkship process. 

There have been a few bumps and pivots in the entrepreneurship process. Still, Aliza is grounded in reaching every regional or top 5 law school to ensure that every law student understands the clerkship process.

“I’ve reached a lot of people, but I haven’t reached everybody,” explains Aliza Shatzman about why she travels and talks to everyone she can about judicial workplace misconduct and unfair practices in clerkship hiring. 

As Aliza tours different law schools and talks to students about their experiences and the availability of clerkships, she finds that the process varies wildly based on the law school's resources.

“Take the leap. Pursue the idea. It’s always possible to pivot if something doesn't go your way,” explains Aliza Shatzman while discussing entrepreneurship and being a solo founder.

Contact Aliza Shatzman

Aliza Shatzman is the founder and chief advocate of the Legal Accountability Project. Learn more about the Clerkship Database and contribute to their fundraising here: https://www.legalaccountabilityproject.org/

Follow the Legal Accountability Group on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thelegalaccountabilityproject/

Join the FREE mailing list!

Get behind-the-scenes content from You Are A Lawyer. 

1) Visit www.youarealawyer.com

2) Add your email address to the Subscribe pop-up box OR

3) Enter your email address on the right side of the screen

4) Get emails from me (I won't fill your inbox with junk)!

Interact with You Are A Lawyer

Kyla Denanyoh hosts the You Are A Lawyer podcast. 

Follow the podcast:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@youarealawyer

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/youarealawyer/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/YouAreA_Lawyer

Website: https://www.youarealawyer.com

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/T0lB4KHHvd0" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Recent Episodes

How to Navigate the Entertainment Law Industry feat. Gordon Firemark

Gordon Firemark, a media producer and lawyer based in Los Angeles, shares his journey from television sports production to running an entertainment law practice in this episode. As the go-to expert for podcast-related legal matters, Gordon discusses his experience in podcasting and teaching entertainment law. He also delves into his diverse career, including producing shows, practicing law, and teaching courses on entertainment and intellectual property law.
Read and listen here

How to Implement a Subscription Model for Legal Services feat. Mathew Kerbis

Mathew Kerbis, the innovative subscription attorney, shared insights on his unique subscription-based legal services for freelancers and small business owners in this episode. He discussed his transition from litigation to transactional law, the inspiration behind starting his own practice, and the importance of access to justice through his subscription model. Tune in to learn more about how Mathew is revolutionizing the legal field with his innovative business model.
Read and listen here

How to Excel as a Legal Analyst in Tax Law feat. Ruth Jeremiah

Ruth Jeremiah, a legal analyst and lawyer based in Dallas, Texas, shared her journey from document review to working in the tax department of a large publishing company. Despite feeling like a failure at times, Ruth's perseverance and dedication led her to a fulfilling career where she utilizes her legal skills in analyzing tax law. Tune in to this episode of the You Are a Lawyer podcast to hear Ruth's inspiring story of resilience and growth in the legal field.
Read and listen here

How To Start a Law Podcast and Monetize It feat. Holly Cope

Holly Cope shares her journey from practicing law to helping lawyers create engaging podcasts in this episode. She discusses the importance of building a personal brand as a lawyer, documenting one's journey through law school, and overcoming limiting beliefs to excel in the legal profession. Holly's insights on leveraging a law degree for various opportunities and the value of storytelling in the legal field provide valuable advice for law students and young lawyers.
Read and listen here

How to Transform Your Legal Career feat. Elena Deutsch

Elena Deutsch, a career coach on a mission to help women and non-binary lawyers find fulfillment outside of big law, shares inspiring stories of individuals who have transformed their legal careers through her program, Will. From setting boundaries to exploring new career paths, Elena's insights and guidance empower individuals to prioritize their well-being and create a career and life they love. Tune in to hear how Elena's program is helping lawyers navigate their professional journeys with confidence and purpose.
Read and listen here

How to Transition from Lawyer to Digital Nomad feat. Brian Dixon

Brian Dixon, a lawyer turned digital nomad, shares his journey of transitioning from practicing law to running his own business as a copywriter while living in Bali. In this episode, Brian discusses his decision-making process, the support he received from his family, and the importance of embracing change and taking risks in one's career. Listeners will be inspired by Brian's story of pursuing multiple passions and redefining the traditional boundaries of a legal career.
Read and listen here

How To Use Your Law Degree in Non-Traditional Ways feat. Tiffany Obeng

Tiffany Obeng, a lawyer specializing in employment discrimination, shares her journey of transitioning from practicing law to becoming a successful children's book author. Through her books, Tiffany aims to inspire young readers, especially Black children, to explore diverse career paths and embrace the power of literacy. Join us as Tiffany discusses the importance of representation in literature and the impact of alternative legal careers in shaping a more inclusive future.
Read and listen here

How To Balance Passion and Profit in Law feat. Joshua Brumley

Joshua Brumley, a successful lawyer and entrepreneur, shares the story of starting his own law firm right out of law school and the importance of networking and marketing in the legal industry. He emphasizes the value of building a strong network of like-minded attorneys and continuously learning and growing in the field of law. Joshua's passion for helping people and his innovative approach to marketing and business development shine through in this insightful episode.
Read and listen here

How to Be More Authentic in the Legal Field feat. Hannah Beko

Hannah Beko, a seasoned real estate lawyer and founder of Authentically Speaking, shares her journey of finding her authentic voice and helping other lawyers do the same. Through her coaching and training programs, Hannah empowers lawyers to navigate stress, burnout, and low self-esteem, encouraging them to explore diverse career paths and embrace their true selves in the legal profession. Join us as Hannah delves into her experiences and insights on personal growth and professional development in the legal field.
Read and listen here

How to Establish a Successful Solo Law Practice feat. Larry Williams II

Larry Williams II shares his journey from starting his own solo law practice straight out of law school to eventually working as a criminal defense attorney for the Harris County Public Defender's Office in Houston. Throughout the episode, Larry discusses the importance of mentorship, the value of networking, and the versatility of a law degree, encouraging young lawyers and law students to keep pushing forward and believe in their abilities to succeed in the legal field. Join us as Larry provides insights and advice for those navigating the early years of their legal careers.
Read and listen here

How To Promote Your Personal Brand at Work feat. Sara Williams

Sara Williams shares her story of self-discovery and growth in the legal industry, emphasizing the importance of breaking free from traditional norms to find fulfillment and happiness as a lawyer. From teaching at a law school to managing a firm and ultimately branding herself within it, Sara's story highlights the value of exploring different paths and embracing change to create a career that aligns with personal values and aspirations. Join us as Sara inspires law students and young lawyers to prioritize their happiness and forge their unique paths in the legal profession.
Read and listen here

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome and Manage Stress feat. Lauren Klein

Lauren Klein shares her journey from big law to launching a coaching program for law students and new lawyers in this episode. She discusses the importance of mindset coaching, success coaching, and mindfulness in the legal profession, emphasizing the need for balance, health, and financial well-being. Lauren's insights highlight the versatility of a law degree and the endless possibilities available to young lawyers and law students.
Read and listen here

©2023 You are a Lawyer LLC.
All rights reserved.