This year, Foley & Mansfield launched our Inaugural Summer Minority Clerkship Program. The program was designed to create a pipeline of underrepresented legal professionals at the law school level.
Director of Diversity & Inclusion, John Myung interviews Southern University Law Center law student, Amari Spraggins about her Summer Clerkship experience at the Firm.
What were the three most enjoyable experiences from Foley & Mansfield’s summer minority clerkship program?
I enjoyed being exposed to a completely new area of law. With the firm’s specialty in asbestos related matters, I was able to learn about one of the most popular topics in the realm of products liability.
Since the firm has several offices, I was able to complete assignments for the offices in Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, and New York. Also, I completed several research assignments for matters involving California and Arizona law. I enjoyed being exposed to common law terms and statutes while still putting my skills to use in Louisiana related matters.
One of the most rewarding experiences from Foley & Mansfield was the opportunity for my first article publication that I co-authored with Kay Baxter, a partner in the New Orleans office.
Do you think it’s important that law firms host clerkship programs for minority law students? If yes, why?
Yes, I think it is important that firms host clerkship programs to allow minorities to experience what it is like to work for a law firm. So many of us are first generation law students and are still learning how to maneuver the legal field. These programs allow minorities a wonderful opportunity to explore various legal sectors that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to.
What is the most important lesson learned from this program? Do you think you will pursue a full-time career in litigation after law school? Please explain your answer.
So far, the most important lesson I have learned is to always be flexible. Things may never go the way you planned them to but in the legal profession I believe being flexible will allow you to bounce back from the unexpected. Yes, I want to pursue a career full time in litigation and thoroughly enjoyed witnessing depositions and bench trials for the first time. The firm has taught me so much in such a short amount of time, that the overall experience I have received here is invaluable and will last me throughout my legal career.
Were there any practice areas you worked on that interest you? Why?
I enjoyed learning about the asbestos bankruptcy trusts and the process of corporations filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to recoup their assets. This legal area was very interesting to me because there is so much history behind the bankruptcy trusts that I had no idea existed. This is one of the most widely debated topics in asbestos litigation. Moreover, this was my first time being exposed to the subject matter of bankruptcy which made it twice as intriguing.
Were you able to build new relationships in a virtual setting?
Yes, one of the best parts about working at Foley & Mansfield is the warm welcome I received from the St. Louis office in particular, and several other offices as well. Within my first few weeks, the St. Louis Office held a zoom lunch to allow me the chance to meet the attorneys. Many attorneys have reached out to me through email, and I even set up zoom conferences to foster individual relationships and seek advice. I look forward to meeting new faces at Foley and hopefully one day meeting in person!
What advice you would give to future law students participating in the minority clerkship program?
I would tell future law students participating in this program not to be afraid to speak up and make their needs known. Communicate with the partners about your personal legal interests and see if there are any assignments available for you to work on. Ask for feedback even if you have to call or email more than once. Please remember to network and foster relationships during your time here because you never know who can help you in the future. Overall, remaining positive, enthusiastic, and maintaining a good work ethic will leave a lasting impression with the partners.