Eleven law students are participating in a program that provides pathways to the New Mexico judiciary and possible clerkships for people traditionally under-represented in the legal profession. The Judicial Clerkship Program, now in its second year, provides students training, mentoring and a 10-week summer externship. The New Mexico Supreme Court, the State Bar of New Mexico Committee on Diversity in the Legal Profession, and the Young Lawyers Division, jointly manage the program. The main goal of the program is to train law students to become law clerks after graduating from law school. Law clerks within the New Mexico judiciary typically work for a justice or a judge for one or two years.
Law clerks write bench memos, which detail all of the issues within a case objectively, and spend time doing research for writing draft opinions. A written opinion is a formal explanation of a ruling of a case. It is widely acknowledged that judicial clerkships increase professional development of law school graduates and often lead to greater advancement in their career as a lawyer or in the judiciary. For their externship, all program students pair with a justice or judge and an attorney as mentors. Students also receive a stipend while they gain experience at the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Thirteenth Judicial District Court or Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.