AUWCL Students, Alumni Gain Internship, Clerkship Experience through Alumni Connection with Judge Jeannie Hong

When Samantha Dos Santos ’18 began her internship with Judge Jeannie J. Hong ’92 during her 1L summer, she had no idea it would lead to a post-graduate clerkship for the associate judge on the Eighth Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

“I interned with Judge Hong during my 1L summer, periodically checked in throughout 2L, and then interned again during 3L prior to my judicial clerkship. My experience was amazing, and I knew that Judge Hong created a culture in chambers that I wanted to be a part of,” Dos Santos said. “She demands excellence and precision in everything that she does, and I knew that type of environment would ultimately make me a better lawyer.”

Judge Jeannie Hong '92
Judge Jeannie Hong '92

“I assumed I would wait until 2L or 3L to discuss the [clerkship] opportunity with her, but Judge Hong actually interviewed me for the judicial clerkship on the last day of my 1L summer internship,” Dos Santos continued. “I accepted on the spot.”

Since joining the Public Interest Alumni Advisory Board at American University Washington College of Law, Judge Hong has become more active in recruiting students and alumni for internship and clerkship positions in an effort to give back to the law school.

“I have found that WCL students are passionate about learning and are prepared to immediately contribute to chambers,” Judge Hong said.

Judge Hong was appointed by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Sep. 28, 2011, and was elected to a full fifteen-year term in November 2012. Prior, she was an associate judge for the 1st District of the District Court of Maryland in Baltimore City, and an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore City. She began her legal career as a staff attorney in the Child Care Administration for the Department of Human Resources. She is the recipient of the 2005 Trailblazer Award from the National Asian-Pacific American Bar Association and the 2002 Best Lawyers Under 40 award from the National Asian-Pacific American Bar Association.

During her 2018-19 clerkship, Dos Santos’s responsibilities included managing the heavy caseloads on both the civil and criminal dockets and preparing Judge Hong for all hearings and trials. While benefiting greatly from the amount of legal writing experience gained, and learning which tactics were most effective before the Court or jury, Dos Santos said it was Judge Hong’s mentorship that was the most valuable part of her experience as both an intern and judicial law clerk. And since the start of her clerkship, she worked to ensure more AUWCL students had that same experience.

“Through the Office of Career and Professional Development, we have been able to receive tons of resumes and have enjoyed meeting AUWCL students interested in the fast paced environment that Baltimore City has to offer,” Dos Santos said. “I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with these students because I was in their same position just a year (or few) ago.”

Judge Hong has had an intern from AUWCL over the last four summers; this past summer, she had three. This fall, two AUWCL student interns—William Mogtader ’21 and Zhuo Zhao ’21—are working in her chambers.

Samantha Dos Santos '18
Samantha Dos Santos '18

 “Judge Hong has a reputation that speaks for itself,” Mogtadar said. “I have been drawn to advocacy in large part due to [AUWCL’s] outstanding advocacy program. I hope to gain the skills that will make me a more effective advocate and learn the intricacies involved in real-world trial practice.”

As an Asian American woman, Zhao said she was inspired by Judge Hong's story and her success.

“After hearing Judge Hong speak about her experience at an APALSA event, I was incredibly interested in her story and career. I personally do not know many Asian American women attorneys, so I was immediately drawn to working for Judge Hong,” Zhao said. “I hope I gain many things from this experience: advice from Judge Hong on how to overcome diversity in the legal world, the ability to view trials, improve my legal writing, and network.”

Overall, the interns said their classroom experience at AUWCL prepared them for their new role in Judge Hong’s chambers.  

“At WCL, I think we do a good job establishing a baseline for legal writing and research,” said Andrew Park ’21, who interned for Judge Hong over the summer. “This really helped during my internship because a lot of the work was about writing and researching. In a courtroom, you get every kind of issue, so in every case there is almost a constant learning process that happens. It also brought to life various parts of the classes that I took in my 1L year that made it more than a passage in a textbook.”

“I frequently applied the knowledge I gained from Legal Rhetoric during my internship,” noted Callie Edgar ’21, also a summer 2019 intern. “We were able to help research issues and write court orders, case summaries, and memos. Classes like Torts, Contracts, and Property were also helpful because I was able to recognize and understand more of the subjects covered on the civil docket.”

Dos Santos is now an associate attorney at Plaxen and Adler, P.A., founded by AUWCL alum Bruce Plaxen ’82. Another AUWCL alumna—Lindsey Miller ’19—has taken over the role in Judge Hong’s chambers for her 2019-20 clerkship.