The Indiana University Maurer School of Law and the Indiana Supreme Court have announced a pilot program in which up to five 1L students committed to public service will work with judges throughout the state.
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Edward Najam worked with the Bloomington law school to create a judicial clerkship program that will introduce Maurer students to different facets of rural and smaller-city practice. The program will allow law students to assist trial court judges with research, drafting motions and opinions and to learn about courtroom practice and procedure.
"The judiciary is committed to ensuring justice for all people, regardless of where they live in our state," Rush said in a statement. "Introducing students to the challenges and opportunities of practicing law in a smaller community is beneficial to the aspiring lawyers and our judges."
Rush, a 1983 graduate of the Maurer School of Law, and Najam developed the idea for the program. Both serve on the law school’s Board of Visitors.
The pilot is part of the Supporting Rural Justice program, which seeks to improve access to the courts, expand legal services, and expose law school students to rural practice and smaller legal communities.
"A lot of justice is dispensed by Indiana trial courts sitting in smaller counties across our state," Najam said. "This program enables law students to witness firsthand what a county seat practice looks like."
Maurer students will be selected for the competitive program by a committee consisting of Rush; professor Aviva Orenstein, associate dean of students and academic affairs; Jody Lyneé Madeira, professor and chair of the Judicial Clerkships Committee, and; Inge Van der Cruysse, professor, lecturer in law and director of judicial externships and clerkship placements.
Successful applicants will be named by mid-February and will receive a $4,000 stipend to cover travel and living costs during their participation in the program.
"This partnership with the Supreme Court complements the law school's commitment to the state," said Orenstein, who led the initiatve. "Each year, Maurer School of Law students and faculty volunteer thousands of hours with local nonprofit and legal aid organizations to help low-income Hoosiers who need legal assistance. This new program builds on the important work of our students and faculty in our access-to-justice programs, our clinics and our pro bono projects."