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U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller of the Southern District of Texas led an October webinar, sharing insight and answering questions from University of Houston Law Center students to convey the benefits of judicial internships and clerkships for state or federal judges.
“A law clerk basically acts as the lawyer for the judge,” Miller, a 1978 alumnus of the Law Center said. “They will advise me on the law and facts of the cases that come up and on evidence points in suppression hearings and criminal cases.”
Panelists included: Career Law Clerk Anna Archer ’06, term law clerks Drew Padley ’20 and Christina Beeler ’18 and summer intern Austin Turman.
“You get to learn about the different areas of federal and state law that come up through diversity jurisdiction,” Padley said. “Instead of the constraints and narrow focus of a specific law firm, where you might be pigeonholed into a certain area of law, here you never know what’s coming.”
According to Miller, key advantages of interning are learning the mannerisms of the courtroom and studying lawyering skills and strategies. Clerkships offer the same benefits, as well as starting bonuses and an opportunity to network and forge foundational professional relationships, making clerks a competitive applicant to law firms.
“Clerking is hands down the best career experience I have ever had, not just as a lawyer, but even looking at past career experiences as a teacher and musician,” Beeler said. “Even the interviewing process is valuable. Going into chambers and seeing how things work behind the scenes was so exciting.”
Panel members emphasized the importance of interning and clerking with judges, stating that it provides imperative legal experience and builds research and legal writing skills that will be utilized throughout their careers.
“It’s like a postgraduate degree in law,” Miller said. “The hand-on approach exposes unique facets of the court not taught, and it is a steppingstone into any legal occupation.”
University of Houston Law Center Professor Renee Knake Jefferson said that the low number of female judges throughout the legal system mirrors the lack of women in leadership positions in all industries during the 2020 Women of the Law Fall Event in October.
“Through their stories and through their history, we can actually chart out the next steps in how we further our professional commitment to diversity,” Knake Jefferson said. “It’s only when we view these collective stories and take a more holistic look that we see there are systemic problems here. A key effort to moving forward is
visibility and transparency in details.”
Knake Jefferson drew her talking points from her book, “SHORTLISTED: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court,” which examines the personal and professional lives of nine women who appeared on presidential shortlists as candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court but were ultimately passed over before Sandra Day O’Connor was selected in 1981.
“Less than four percent of Supreme Court Justices have been women, and there has never been a female Court Chief Justice. This aptly
reflects the current lack of diversity in legal positions of leadership and furthers the importance of women working in prominent, national positions that gain attention and enable a voice. “
Knake Jefferson said that her research on Supreme Court shortlists comes from an investment in diversity and more women in the judiciary, but it also extends into non-law career fields.
“It is a lens for us to think about our commitment to diversity much more broadly throughout the legal profession, and indeed in all professions,” Knake Jefferson said. “It vividly conveys glass ceilings that have been shattered and how these women, varied in age, profession and nationality, paved the way for gender equality.”
Women of the Law aims to create a space for women alumni
to network, learn together, and enjoy group events, as well as support the school’s efforts to recruit female students and promote diversity within the Law Center. If you are interested in joining the organization, contact Director of Development Stephanie Johnson at or 713.743.3839.

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