It is hard to believe that it has already been nearly eight months since graduating from Creighton’s School of Law. It seems like it was only a minute ago that I was outlining for finals!
However, my transition into the legal profession has certainly contributed to the time going fast since graduation. My current position, law clerk to the Hon. Gary A. Fenner of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, has been an excellent introduction to a career in law.
Clerking has allowed me to immerse myself in a wide array of legal topics. I have been exposed to different styles of legal writing, various nooks and crannies of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the nearly countless issues that can arise in day-to-day docket management. I was even able to assist the judge in a civil jury trial in December 2018, which was an extremely valuable experience for me so early in my legal career. Most importantly, all of these experiences have sharpened my analytical reasoning and bolstered my writing abilities.
I was presented the opportunity to interview for the clerkship through G. Michael Fenner, the law school’s James L. Koley Professor of Constitutional Law, and brother of the Hon. Gary Fenner.
As a proud Section B student, I had the pleasure of taking constitutional law with Professor Fenner. I am grateful to him for the opportunity to interview for this position, especially knowing how coveted a job of this sort is by so many law school graduates.
What has surprised me the most about life after law school (besides the unfortunate reality that I no longer have a month break for the holidays) is the tremendous variety of legal issues I have encountered. I knew the bodies of law that frame the issues I am tasked with addressing would be diverse, but I did not anticipate the nimbleness required to address litany of cases on the docket.
The discipline I began to hone in law school in my research and writing has been enhanced through these challenges. No matter the legal issue, I apply the same approach—understand the legal question presented, rigorously research the legal issue, formulate an outline for a solution, write clearly and edit critically.
The valuable experiences Creighton law school provided me—whether it was serving on the law review editorial board or co-drafting the moot court problem with my now fiancée (another important reason I remember my time in law school so fondly)—helped develop my legal reasoning and writing skills. These skills make it much more manageable to take on the multitude of legal issues I face in my clerkship.
The hands-on skills classes I participated in while in law school, namely cross-examination and scientific evidence, also provided me valuable experiences that have aided in my understanding of a trial court and the litigation process. I have had to address evidentiary issues specific to expert witnesses and admissibility of certain aspects of a closing statement in my job. Because of these classes, I had both familiarity and confidence to tackle these issues efficiently and effectively.
Serving as a judicial clerk has been such a valuable experience for me early in my legal career. The skills and lessons I have learned will stay with me as long as I practice law. I am extremely grateful to Creighton law school for not only providing me with the opportunity to get this job, but also the skills and confidence needed to succeed in all the tasks I take on.
Rhys Williams, JD’18, graduated last May from Creighton University School of Law.