IU McKinney announces rural justice judicial clerkships

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A second Indiana law school has partnered with the Indiana Supreme Court to expose more students to the practice of law in less urban communities through a rural judicial clerkship program.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law announced its collaboration with the state’s highest court, introducing five students who will take part in the “Supporting Rural Justice Initiative.”

IU McKinney students accepted into the program include first-year students Sheremy Cabrera, Natalie Collins and Krystal Hunter and 2Ls Weston Augustyniak and Patrick Wright.

The program aims to introduce students to different facets of rural and smaller-city practice across the state. Students will assist trial court judges with research, drafting motions and opinions, and learning about courtroom practice and procedure.

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May was instrumental in bringing the program to IU McKinney, which was initially introduced to Indiana University Maurer School of Law students earlier this year after Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and COA Judge Edward Najam developed the idea for the program.

"I think it is important for IU McKinney students to have the opportunity to work with trial judges in our smaller, rural communities,” May said in a statement. “Judges in those counties do everything from the most minor civil small claims cases, to murder – they do not have the ability to 'specialize' as some judges do in larger urban counties.

"As a result,” May continued, “getting to work with a smaller county trial judge will give McKinney students a wide range of knowledge about the actual 'practice' of law."

The IU McKinney students will be placed with judges in Rush, Fountain, Owen, Wayne and Lawrence counties. Each student will receive two or three credits for the experience, fully reimbursed, as well as a $4,000 stipend to complete at least 240 hours of work during the summer.

Students began their experiential learning on Monday and will continue at their respective locations until Aug. 9. Judges from each county – David Northam, Stephanie Campbell, Lori Quillen, Darrin Dolehanty and Andrea McCord – were nominated by the Supreme Court and volunteered to mentor the students.

"I believe each student will gain a much better appreciation of all the hard work our trial judges put in every day in their courts," May said. "I also believe they will see that very good lawyers practice in smaller communities too, and the larger urban areas – while also having very good lawyers – aren’t the only place to enjoy the practice of law."

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