MISSOULA – With 30.4% of its 2020 graduates placed in coveted judicial clerkships, the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law ranks No. 5 nationally on a list titled The Princeton Review’s 2022 Best Law Schools for State and Local Clerkships.
A leading tutoring, test prep and college admission services company, The Princeton Review annually reports 14 rankings. Each names the top 10 law schools in a particular category, covering topics it believes prospective applicants might want to know about during a campus visit.
“I’m often asked by students about why our school has such high clerkship rates, and I typically respond, ‘because we have the best students,’” said Katy Stack, director of career development for the Blewett School of Law. “While it also doesn’t hurt that we are the only law school in Montana, I believe that the courts would not continue to hire our students if they didn’t do a great job.”
Montana's judges have clerkship applicants from all over the country and from some of the most highly ranked law schools, but they consistently select UM students out of those strong applicant pools.
“Our students work hard, and they come out of law school with a solid combination of practical and theoretical knowledge that allows them to assist judges in their important and difficult work,” Stack said.
Stack herself clerked for the federal courts for four years after graduating from law school and recalled that attorneys who had clerked would always tell her how much they enjoyed it.
“Now I get to help our students have that experience,” she said.
Reema Najjar, a 2021 Blewett School of Law graduate now clerks for Judge Ray Dayton in the 3rd Judicial District Court in Montana, covering three counties, the Montana State Prison and the Montana State Hospital.
“I feel like I was prepped for this job,” said Najjar. “There was a lot I had to learn, but for the most part I had that baseline to be resourceful and find the answers I needed.
“Research and writing are essential, and our professors set really high standards,” she said. “I think that makes such a difference when you are starting to write for the court. Clinic was also great, and there were classes that zoomed in on certain aspects of trial, litigation or transactions. I see in context how applicable it was.”
While putting their skills to practice, clerks also observe attorneys in action in many different practice areas, develop a better sense of what attorneys do on a day-to-day basis and put more time and consideration into the type of law they want to practice. Perhaps most importantly, the judge they work for becomes a mentor who they can turn to for advice for years after leaving the judge’s chambers.
“Being able to communicate with a judge all day on legal questions, on strategy and on issues and theory of how something is playing out or how a case is developing is a big benefit,” Najjar said. “That gives me new perspective that I don’t have as a new grad, and Judge Dayton has a wealth of knowledge to share.”
Contact: Andi Armstrong, director of marketing and communications, UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law, 406-243-6509, firstname.lastname@example.org.