JD Fox was looking for a law school with rigorous academics, a strong sense of community and a solid record of placing students in federal judicial clerkships. He applied to seven law schools, but he recalls having an “aha moment” when he sat in on a class during his visit to Vanderbilt. “The professor made several dry, witty jokes directed at the subject material,” he said. “The class established that Vanderbilt students and faculty were wickedly smart, humorous and diverse in opinion. As a graduate of a strict military academy, I know first-hand the importance of fun—at appropriate times.”
Fox plans to be a litigator, and Vanderbilt’s success in placing students in federal judicial clerkships was also a key factor in his decision. “Vanderbilt’s judicial clerkship program punches above its weight,” he said.
As a law student, Fox’s goal of pursuing a federal clerkship has also guided his choice of law school extracurriculars. As a 2L, he joined the staff of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law and entered the Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court Competition, becoming a finalist in the brief competition. “I’ve learned a lot about the law, myself and others by working on a journal and serving on the Moot Court board,” he said. “The journal write-on competition is an excellent exercise in endurance and self-reliance, and the moot court competition teaches teamwork and reinforces the importance of preparation.”
Fox notes that many of his most enjoyable experiences at Vanderbilt have been in his classes. “Vanderbilt faculty love teaching; their offices are open to students and all want to see their students succeed,” he said. “That makes the classroom experience rewarding and engaging, and students ultimately become better lawyers.” His first-year Torts class with Professor Sean Seymore, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry in addition to a law degree, led him to take Seymore’s upper-level courses in Patent Law and Remedies. “His technical background and unique personality give his classes a special flair,” he said.
He also appreciates the close-knit Vanderbilt Law community. “Vanderbilt has a camaraderie that other schools seem to lack,” he said. “It’s a mutually supportive environment. No two students have the same law school experience or goals, but everyone wants the best for their classmates both in and beyond school.”
He worked with both Professor Michael Bressman, who directs the Clerkship Program, and with Vanderbilt’s Career Services staff to secure a two-year clerkship with Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and an offer of permanent employment in his hometown, Jacksonville, Florida. “If you are a clerk aspirant, there’s hardly a better place to be than Vanderbilt,” he said. “Professor Bressman has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of federal Judges throughout the country, and it seemed like he began prepping us for clerkships from day one. And I secured employment at my dream firm through Career Services’ OCI program for the summer after my 2L year.” Fox plans to join that firm, Foley & Lardner, in 2021 after serving his clerkship.