Judicial externs gain a behind-the-scenes look at the judicial process and an insider’s view into a judge’s work process, deliberations, and ultimately, decision on cases. Judicial externship students hone their skills in case and statutory analysis, legal research and writing, as well as procedural rules and substantive law principles.
Paige Gross ’21 earned course credit and valuable insight the summer following her 1L year with The Honorable Mark A. Kearney ’84 CLAS, ’87 CWSL, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Gross applied for and was chosen to participate in a summer externship with Judge Kearney, in part because of the suggestion of her student mentor, Peyton Carper ’19. Carper had her own judicial externship and was hired for a prestigious judicial clerkship with the Delaware Court of Chancery following graduation.
As a judicial extern, Gross received work that closely resembled that which was given to the judge’s full-time law clerks and consisted of varied and challenging legal projects. Her experience with Judge Kearney was unique. She was thrown right into her work from the first day of her externship and Judge Kearney practiced an open-door policy with his externs, allowing them access to his chambers to ask any questions of him or the other law clerks.
“It was a really unique and rewarding experience,” commented Gross. “The law clerks helped with any questions I had about my projects, but at the end of the day Judge Kearney was the one reviewing and providing feedback on my drafts. He also invited his externs into his chambers whenever we were in court, so we not only were able to watch hearings and sentencings, but we also got an in-depth analysis of the rulings. Having that one-on-one mentorship from a judge was invaluable.”
Even after her externship ended, Gross still feels the impact of her time with Judge Kearney as she progresses through her law school experience. She and Judge Kearney regularly keep in touch and he provides advice to help her succeed in her endeavors.
“I would not have some of the opportunities I’ve had if it were not for Judge Kearney in my corner,” explained Gross. “The lessons and insight he provided into the hiring process were invaluable, and he is willing to do whatever he can to make sure I succeed in the future. He frequently emails me to check-in to see how my law school experience and job search process is going. He always keeps an eye out for my best interests.”
Currently, Gross is completing an internship with King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC, a general practice law firm in her hometown of Bethlehem, PA, where she hopes to remain after graduating in the spring. There is one thing that Gross is sure of—wherever her career goes, she will take the lessons she learned from Judge Kearney with her. “Judge Kearney has become a lifelong mentor. He teaches his externs not just academic lessons, but genuine life lessons that I will forever carry with me—lessons that will without a doubt set me up for future success.”