Law Students Earn Externship Opportunity at Arkansas Supreme Court
From left, Associate Justice Paul E. Danielson, Victoria Medina, Associate Justice Josephine Hart, Chief Justice Howard W. Brill, James Stayton, Eric Eggburn, Caroline Currier, Associate Justice Robin F. Wynne, Russell Thomas (Goodson extern from Florida), Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson, Matthew Light, Associate Justice Rhonda K. Wood, Caitlin Kenner and Associate Justice Karen R. Baker
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Caroline Currier, Eric Eggburn, Caitlin Kenner, Matthew Light, Victoria Medina and James Stayton, students at the University of Arkansas School of Law, served as Arkansas Supreme Court judicial externs this summer. While the students had the opportunity to observe and interact with the entire bench, each worked directly for an individual justice. Kenner and Light worked with Associate Justice Rhonda Wood, Currier and Eggburn with Associate Justice Robin F. Wynne and Medina and Stayton with Chief Justice Howard Brill.
Brill, who is also a professor at the U of A law school, was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to serve out the remainder of The Hon. James Hannah's term, who retired Aug. 31, 2015, citing health issues and died the following January. His term expires at the end of 2016. Brill, currently on leave from the university, is the Vincent Foster Professor of Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility and has been a member of the faculty since 1975.
"James and Victoria did a wonderful job," Brill said. "With only one year of law school, they helped me prepare for conferences and arguments. They edited drafts of opinions. They made recommendations on pending motions. They researched a per curiam order in a novel situation. My staff and I were impressed with their professionalism and their presentation."
Angie Doss, director of externship programs at the law school, noted the unique opportunity having Brill as chief justice affords the extern program.
"The five-week externship provides these rising second-year students with the opportunity to learn more about the rules of civil and appellate procedure in practice, while honing their research, writing and analytical skills on live cases," Doss said. "And, the opportunity to learn within the practice, under an outstanding jurist, scholar, mentor and teacher is a remarkable experience."
The extraordinary circumstance of completing an externship with a Supreme Court justice who is also a distinguished professor at their law school was not lost on Medina and Stayton. They also valued the opportunity to know and interact with the Court's other justices while observing the day-to-day operations of the court.
"There are some opportunities which truly blow you away each day you get to experience them," said Medina, who is originally from McGehee. "This, without a doubt, is one of those. I'm not sure I could be more grateful for the challenges and opportunities working with Chief Justice Brill has provided me."
"What can I say? I love it!" said Stayton, who is from Aurora, Colorado. "Getting to peer into the minds of the state's top jurists is wonderful. This is the best job I've ever had."
According to Doss, practical experience is an important part of the program at the University of Arkansas School of Law and the Arkansas Supreme Court externships are among the most prized.
"The opportunity to work closely with the justices will help mold these law students into confident and competent young attorneys."
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