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Slaves of DC


“Your great-grandfather was a former governor of this state,” she said. “Your grandfather was a prosperous land-owner. Your grandmother was a Godhigh.”

“Will you look around you,” he said tensely, “and see where you are now?” and he swept his arm jerkily out to indicate the neighborhood, which the growing darkness at least made less dingy.

“You remain what you are,” she said. “Your great-grandfather had a plantation and two hundred slaves.”

“There are no more slaves,” he said irritably.

— Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge —

I was talking to a journalist yesterday about the law school mess, and she mentioned interviewing a couple of people in front of American University’s law school, which according to the school’s virtual tour of its facilities is in one of DC’s more desirable areas:

Located on tree-lined Massachusetts Avenue in the District, WCL is minutes from downtown D.C. yet close to parks, trails, neighborhood restaurants, shopping, and some of the nicest residential neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C. area.

I quoted her the school’s graduating class of 2011’s appalling employment statistics — 300 of 467 graduates didn’t have a legal job, loosely defined, nine months after graduation — and described how the average member of that class had around $200,000 in educational debt (officially the class averaged $151,000 in law school debt, but with accrued interest this gets kicked to around $175K, plus undergraduate debt isn’t counted in that total).

But of course even those grim numbers are probably fluffed by things like this, sent along to me yesterday by a helpful reader:

District of Columbia Court of Appeals Senior Judicial Internship Description

Judge Blackburne-Rigsby sits on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Congress established the District of Columbia Court of Appeals as the highest court of the District of Columbia in 1970, and the court is the equivalent of a state supreme court. As the highest court for the District of Columbia, the Court of Appeals is authorized to review all final orders, judgments, and specified interlocutory orders of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. To learn more about the Court of Appeals, please visit:


The Judicial internship provides an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand about the court, and hone your legal writing and research skills. Judge Blackburne-Rigsby has two full-time Judicial Law Clerks, with whom the senior judicial intern will work closely. The intern’s major responsibilities will be divided between substantive legal research and writing at the appellate level and record review. Please note that this is a non-paid position. The start date will be mid October 2012.

Qualifications: Recent graduate with excellent legal research and writing skills as well as the ability to multi-task.

Time Commitment: Must be available to work a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Interested graduates should send a cover letter, resume, transcript, writing sample and references to:

LaVerne Atiba
Judicial Administrative Assistant to
The Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
430 E Street, N.W., Suite 208
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: 202-879-2731
Email: [email protected]

I would very much like to know how The Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, who is already provided by the District of Columbia with two full-time assistants who perform most if not all of the less pleasant tasks associated with her sinecure, believes it’s honorable to take advantage of the desperation of new law school graduates in this fashion.

Does it occur to her Honor that this sort of thing just creates one more barrier to entry to the legal profession to everyone but the children of privilege? Most people, after all, can’t afford to work for free while plugging a resume gap with a phony “judicial clerkship” that is likely to swell the employment stats collected by some lucky law school’s office of career services (what do you want to bet that this “internship” ends up getting counted as a full-time “long-term” position requiring bar admission?).

At least if a Georgetown or GW grad snaps it up, he or she will get kicked $15 per hour from the school. American, despite its enormous class and its $50,149 annual tuition, is apparently sufficiently penurious that it could only afford to pay for “part-time short-term” positions for 21 of the 27 of its 2011 graduates it was employing in February of this year. Thus a 2012 graduate of the school is consequently less likely to provide Judge Blackburne-Rigsby with a year’s worth of free labor than is an unemployed alum of one of the school’s more prosperous legal academic neighbors.

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