June 12, 2024 | 3 minute read

Judicial clerkships can be invaluable experiences for environmental attorneys. So, how can a judicial clerkship add value to the environmental lawyer’s practice and career, and what are some considerations to keep in mind when looking for a judicial clerkship? This episode answers these common questions and more. 

On this episode of the Bracewell Environmental Law Monitor, host Taylor Stuart is joined by guests Jeff Oldham, a partner in Bracewell’s litigation and appellate litigation practices with an emphasis on energy and complex commercial litigation, and Anouk Nouet, an associate in the firm’s environment, lands and resources practice. Join Taylor, Jeff and Anouk as they talk about their own experiences as law clerks, the value of clerking for a career as an environmental lawyer, insights into applying to judicial clerkships and advice on choosing the right clerkship. 

Featured Guests

Name: Jeff Oldham

About: Jeff Oldham is a partner in the litigation and appellate litigation practices at Bracewell. He is an experienced appellate attorney who has presented oral argument in the US Supreme Court, Texas Supreme Court, federal appellate courts nationwide and state courts of appeals throughout Texas. A former US Supreme Court clerk, Jeff is a board-certified appellate specialist who has handled high-stakes appeals in a wide variety of subject matter areas, with a particular emphasis on energy and complex commercial litigation. He also regularly works with trial counsel to formulate pretrial and trial strategy, write dispositive motions, prepare jury charges, preserve error at trial and handle post-trial proceedings.

Jeff previously served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the US Supreme Court and to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 

Company: Bracewell

Connect: LinkedIn

Name: Anouk Nouet

About: Anouk Nouet is an associate in the environment, lands and resources practice at Bracewell, where she advises clients on litigation, enforcement and project development matters involving environmental and natural resources law and policy.

Prior to joining Bracewell, Anouk served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Karoline Mehalchick of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Company: Bracewell

Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

[04:48] Clerking at the US Supreme Court: Jeff describes how clerking for Chief Justice Rehnquist at the US Supreme Court was “like winning the lottery.” As a Supreme Court clerk, in addition to assisting the Chief Justice with preparing for oral argument, Jeff learned how to efficiently handle the thousands of petitions for certiorari that come before the Court, a task that requires a great deal of learning. 

[08:22] Judges Have Different Responsibilities Depending on the Jurisdiction and Location of a Court: The work of a judicial clerk can vary based on the location of the court and judge.

[10:34] Impact of Clerking on Legal Career: Jeff describes how and why being a judicial clerk improved his lawyering, including how the many briefs he saw made him a better writer and positively impacted his appellate practice. 

[13:10] How Clerking Makes Environmental Attorneys Better: Anouk discusses how clerking honed her lawyering skills, requiring her to identify the crux of a dispute, sharpen her research skills, and distill the key arguments being made by parties to the litigation.

[18:34] The Importance of Flexibility as a Law Clerk: An important part of a judicial clerk’s job is adopting the voice and decision-making mentality of the judge they are drafting for. This necessitates setting aside one’s own writing style to adopt the voice of the person you are writing on behalf of, a skill that is often required of many junior lawyers. 

[20:17] Tips for the Judicial Clerkship Application Process: There are ways to stand out in the clerkship application process. Contact former clerks and utilize connections. These strategies are not only helpful in landing the clerkship, but also in landing the right clerkship.

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The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of their institutions or clients.