Every year Superior Court Commissioner Gary Bloch '81 gathers a group of his colleagues from the state and federal benches for a mixer with TJSL’s students and alumni. It’s a chance to meet and greet judges without their robes in a social setting – a golden opportunity for students who have never interacted with judges before.
“It’s a chance to see them as human beings,” said Lindsay Volk 3L at this year’s Alumni Judicial Mixer, held October 18 on the 8th floor. “It’s also important for students to meet generations of graduates who are succeeding in the legal profession.”
One of those successful graduates is Federal District Judge Roger Benitez ’78, who was honored by Dean Hasl and presented with a framed Thomas Jefferson School of Law diploma, since the law school was Western State College of Law in 1978.
“We are proud of your accomplishments as a graduate,” Dean Hasl said to Judge Benitez as he presented the diploma. “It’s a tribute to your hard work and reputation.”
“It’s quite an honor,” said Judge Benitez, “and it’s going to look great on my wall!” He got a lot of enjoyment meeting the current TJSL students as well. “It’s quite nice talking with the students. They are curious and inquisitive.”
Jennifer McCollough 3L is just finishing up a clerkship with Judge Benitez, who says he tries to hire an extern out of TJSL every semester.
“It has been an awesome experience,” said McCollough of her clerkship with Judge Benitez. She has just accepted a post-graduate clerkship with a federal judge in Texas.
And Judge Benitez feels that the clerks and externs they’ve had in federal court compare exceptionally well with law students they’ve had from around the country. “The people I’ve picked from this school are as good as any I’ve seen,” he said.
“Normally you think of judges in a formal, strict environment,” said Stuart Mellman 2L. “It’s great to speak with them in a more relaxed atmosphere.”
Mellman was one of a group of students who spoke with Superior Court Peter Deddeh, who told them about his experiences hearing criminal cases.
”I enjoy talking with the students who are would-be lawyers,” Judge Deddeh said. “One day they may appear in my courtroom.”
Justice Patricia Benke of the Fourth District Court of Appeals also attended the event as a a judge and an outgoing TJSL Trustee. She too says that the court has hired several interns from TJSL and that “the students are amazing. We love the students.”
And the students who attended the mixer loved the event, which attracted 24 judges and quite a few students and alumni.
“It’s great,” said Chase Victorson 2L. “The judges are so available. That’s a real asset to the students. And it’s a chance to showcase TJSL.”