“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”Roberto Clemente
Steven Arango is a co-founder of Law Clerks for Diversity. He is a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and currently attending The Basic School in Quantico, VA. He previously served as a law clerk for a district judge in the Southern District of Texas. Before his clerkship, Steven worked for the U.S. House of Representatives and Department of Defense in the Office of General Counsel, International Affairs.
Steven holds a J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law, and a B.S. in Business Administration, with a minor in Spanish, from Newberry College. At Alabama, Steven was a Moot Court National Champion and a Duke LENS Scholar, and he served as a research assistant to Professor Geoffrey Corn (South Texas College of Law), a leading scholar in international law.
While in law school, Steven spearheaded two large scale veteran advocacy projects. One led to the construction of the first-ever Purple Heart parking space at the University of Alabama. His other project focused on honoring Capt Alexi Whitney, USMC (KIA) by commissioning a bronze memorial bust in his honor. Steven raised over $9,000 for this project and brought national attention to Capt Whitney’s sacrifice. Because of the generous donations, Steven fully funded the project and donated over $1,000 to The Travis Mills Foundation. The bust now proudly stands at TBS.
Without incredible mentors, Steven would not be where he is today. Guided by this awareness, he mentors as many young professionals and students as possible. Along with this project, he currently serves as an ambassador to Service to School’s Undergraduate and Law programs, and continually seeks opportunities to mentor others.
Danielle Barondess is a co-founder of Law Clerks for Diversity. Danielle is currently clerking for a district judge at the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. Next year, she will remain in Hawaii for a clerkship with a judge on the Ninth Circuit.
Before clerking, Danielle spent almost two years practicing at Wiley Rein LLP, a Washington, DC law firm. Danielle also served as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She taught second-year legal writing and helped develop the curriculum for an upper-level legal writing course focused on drafting techniques for statutes and regulations. The latter centered on proposing changes to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its implementing regulations to ensure website accessibility of public accommodations.
Danielle received her B.S. in Global Justice and Policy from James Madison University in 2011 and her J.D., magna cum laude, from George Mason University School of Law in 2017. Both schools are located in Virginia where Danielle was born and raised. Passionate about civil rights advocacy, Danielle studied and wrote about disability-rights issues in law school and later litigated a discrimination lawsuit brought by a student against a university under the Americans with Disability Act as part of her pro bono work in private practice.
Danielle has greatly benefited from valuable mentorship in the course of her legal career and has always sought to pay it forward. She believes that our profession and legal system are more equitable and just when they are representative of the varied backgrounds, cultures, and experiences of the communities they serve.
Richard Chen is an assistant professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law. He previously taught at the law schools of the University of Maine and Pepperdine University. Richard teaches and writes in the areas of contracts, international economic law, and international arbitration. His current research explores the impact of diversity on the quality of arbitral and judicial decision making.
After graduating from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Richard began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Raymond Fisher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then practiced law at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles, before returning to the Ninth Circuit to clerk for Judge Paul Watford during his first term on the court.
As the son of immigrants, Richard has benefited from having incredible mentors at every stage of his education and career. He is particularly grateful for the guidance he received from fellow students about the clerkship process. As a professor, he has tried to pay that forward by serving on clerkship committees, speaking on panels, and advising students on clerkship applications. He is excited to serve as an adviser to Law Clerks for Diversity and assist with the broader effort to make clerkships more accessible to everyone.
Kirti Datla is a Senior Associate in the Supreme Court and Appellate practice group at Hogan Lovells US LLP, based in Washington D.C. Before joining the firm, she served as a law clerk for Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Judge Amul R. Thapar, then of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (now of the Sixth Circuit). She also spent nearly two years in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, where she provided advice to the executive branch on major questions of constitutional, statutory, and administrative law.
Kirti is a first-generation law student who did not know any lawyers growing up. Before starting law school, she had very little idea of the many ways one can practice law and no idea what a clerkship was. She found her way through the kindness of many mentors, a few strangers, and a good deal of luck—and she hopes to pay all of that forward.
Matthew Erickson is currently clerking on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and he will begin a clerkship on the Fifth Circuit in 2021. Before clerking, Matt was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. During law school, Matthew was a research assistant for Professor Joshua Kleinfeld, a teaching assistant for Professor Andrew Koppelman, and completed his senior research project with Professor John McGinnis. Matthew also served on the Supreme Court clinic, the moot court society, and as a Notes Editor on the law review.
Matthew holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from Northwestern University School of Law, and a B.S., magna cum laude, in Accounting and Business Administration from Colorado Christian University.
As a senior at Colorado Christian University, Matthew and his soon to be wife, Cheyenne, had an unplanned pregnancy. Especially as a first-generation law student, this made law school an uphill battle between studying, making a living, and spending time with his young family. Matthew is now a dad of two wonderful, rambunctious toddlers. He is passionate about making the law more accessible to parents and first-generation law students. Matthew is a whiskey and fountain pen enthusiast who loves climbing mountains in his home-state of Colorado.
Ifrah Hassan is currently clerking in the Central District of California, where she clerks for any of the active federal judges in the district. As the child of Somali-Ethiopian immigrants, Ifrah was born and raised in Southern California and is the first lawyer in her family.
Ifrah received a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences, with a minor in Health Communications, from the University of Southern California (USC). After undergrad, Ifrah worked as technical recruiter and started a storytelling platform for women and girls. She is passionate about sharing and representing diverse voices and firmly believes in the power of the human connection.
She attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where she served as a senior articles editor for Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. During law school, Ifrah was a judicial extern at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. She also worked as a writing tutor, interned at Sony Interactive and Los Angeles County Counsel, and completed the corporate concentration. She started clerking after graduating from law school in 2019.
Hamid M. Khan currently serves as Judicial Education Attorney with the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Judiciary’s research and education agency, as an Intermittent Lecturer of Law at the University of Michigan Law School and as a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project.
Previously, Khan served as the deputy director of the Rule of Law Collaborative and adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina and as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Before his work with the University of South Carolina, he served as a Senior Rule of Law Program Officer at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), where he worked on international legal development issues throughout the Islamic world. During his time with USIP, he also served as a Professorial Lecturer of Law at the George Washington School of Law.
His substantive work and instruction have delved into the intersection of Islamic law and tribal legal systems, Islamic constitutionalism, issues of Islamic law both in the context of armed conflict and post-conflict justice, gender issues under Islamic law, classical and contemporary Islamic criminal law, Islamic property law, and trends in modern Islamic political thought. Before his tenure with USIP, Khan served as Postdoctoral Fellow for Stanford Law School’s Afghanistan Legal Education Project. He has consulted on justice sector and legal development issues with a wide variety of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and U.S. Government agencies including the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Federal Judiciary, the United Nations, NATO, ISAF (Afghanistan), and the U.S.-Islamic World Forum at the Brookings Institution. Khan is also former adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Law School and a former visiting professor at the University of Wyoming. While in private legal practice, Khan served as counsel of record for five detainees held at the U.S. Naval Facility at Guantanamo Bay and previously was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, as well as a judicial clerk to Honorable Terrence L. O’Brien, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. During law school, Khan served as Articles Editor and Symposium Editor for the Michigan Journal of International Law and in the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s Legal Honors Program at the Pentagon. Before law school, he was named a Harry S. Truman Presidential Scholar, worked for the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Office of U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson, the Office of David Alton in the British House of Commons, the Office of U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin, and was appointed to the Wyoming Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
A first-generation American, Khan received his bachelor of science, summa cum laude, from the University of Wyoming and his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.
Professor Mary Ksobiech earned a BA from Truman State University and then graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law with a JD in 2000. She was an editor of the Iowa Law Review as well as a member of the National Trial Advocacy Team where she was awarded Best Advocate at the Judge Roy L. Stephenson Trial Advocacy Competition in 1999.
Upon graduation, Professor Ksobiech clerked for the Honorable H. Dean Whipple of the Western District of Missouri and as a staff attorney for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2006, she joined the faculty of The University of Alabama School of Law where she taught courses in Legal Writing, Litigation Drafting, and Judicial Opinion Drafting. As the Assistant Dean of Students, Professor Ksobiech also directed the law school’s Academic Excellence and Moot Court Fellows Programs.
Nicole Phillis is a litigator at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (“DWT”), where she defends businesses and individuals in federal and state litigation, with experience in shareholder disputes, consumer class actions, and contractual claims in the media and entertainment industries. Nicole is also a member of DWT’s food and beverage industry group, serves as the co-chair of Project W’s “Women in Cannabis” initiative, and sits on the leadership committee for DWT’s cannabis industry group, where her practice focuses on cannabis-related advertising, media, and speech issues. She is also currently the Vice Chair of Communications for the Los Angeles County Bar Association Cannabis Section and serves as Davis Wright Tremaine’s firm representative to the California Cannabis Industry Association.
A former 9th Circuit law clerk for the Honorable Milan D. Smith Jr. (2011-2012), Nicole has briefed copyright, unfair competition, and false advertising appeals before the 9th Circuit. Nicole has also consulted on 9th Circuit appeals regarding employment and discrimination-related disputes.
As a pansexual woman and ally, Nicole’s guiding principle for diversity work is simple: “Do you create more space than you take up?” In her professional life, Nicole practices these values by serving on DWT’s Diversity Scholarship Committee and by supporting and mentoring summer associates as the Los Angeles office’s summer associate program coordinator. In her civic and political life, Nicole is very active in the tenant rights community because she believes that the ability to live in one place, with dignity and security, should not depend on whether one can afford to own a home. To that end, Nicole is a two-term elected official on the Santa Monica Rent Control Board. Nicole also maintains an active pro bono practice, which she has devoted primarily to representing immigrants seeking lawful status in the United States.
Deeva Shah is an associate at Keker, Van Nest & Peters, a trial boutique in San Francisco. Prior to her job at Keker, Van Nest & Peters, she served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Raymond Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Deeva earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and B.A. in political and social thought from the University of Virginia. Prior to law school, she served as a trademark legal assistant for Google. Deeva is also a co-founder of Law Clerks for Workplace Accountability, whose mission is to ensure that the federal judiciary provides a safe workplace environment—free of harassment—for all employees. Since January 2018, she has testified before Congress and spoken at multiple conferences and advised numerous state and federal courts on improving the policies and processes governing inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
Deeva was a proud first-generation college and law student and founded the First Generation Law Students organization at Michigan Law. She believes that the legal profession and the federal judiciary can benefit from diversity and equity, especially in law-clerk hiring. Deeva hopes to create a mentorship pipeline to help students in the same way her mentors have helped her.
Alexandra Wald is a partner at Cohen & Gresser LLP, where she serves on the firm’s Ethics and Diversity Committees. Her pro bono work has included opposing restrictions on legal representation for the indigent, representing New York State’s judges in a challenge based on separation of powers, representing historians in a challenge to recent interpretation of the public charge rules, and work for Sanctuary for Families. Her commercial practice includes a wide variety of commercial disputes and intellectual property matters involving patents, trademark, and trade secret disputes. Alexandra has twice received the BTI Client Service Award, was selected to become a member of the Litigation Counsel of America Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, and has been named one of New York’s Super Lawyers for business litigation each year since 2013 and been twice selected as one of the top 50 women lawyers in the New York metropolitan area. Alexandra is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a James Kent Scholar and Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and was on the Editorial Boards of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. Alexandra formerly served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Reginald C. Lindsay of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Alexandra sits on the Board of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
Philip Williamson is a litigation partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, where he works on state and federal civil litigation, appellate, and antitrust matters. Prior to entering private practice, he was a judicial law clerk for Judge Lavenski R. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Judge Amul R. Thapar, then of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Philip is a 2013 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, and he graduated summa cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University in 2010 with a triple major in Theology, Philosophy, and Political Science. He has been a John Marshall Fellow with the Claremont Institute, a James Wilson Fellow with the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding, and a Blackstone Fellow.