Federal Judicial Extern Sharpens Civil Rights Law Knowledge

Student '21
Shigufa Saleheen '21

Shigufa Saleheen ’21 is spending her summer as a judicial extern to the Hon. Hemant H. (Shashi) Kewalramani, magistrate judge, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Saleheen is very active on campus, serving with Loyola’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), Day Student Bar Association (DSBA), National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and South Asian Law Student Association (SALSA). 

Q: HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR SUMMER JOB?

A: The path to my externship was a bit unconventional. I was already prepping to apply for judicial externships when a friend and I decided to attend a bar association reception where Judge Kewalramani was being honored. While networking, I had a great conversation with the judge’s clerks and looked forward to following up with them later about the externship. But surprisingly, when they introduced me to the judge, he offered me the opportunity right on the spot!

Q: WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING PART OF YOUR JOB?

A: It has been very eye-opening working on civil rights cases related to prisoners’ rights, habeas corpus petitions and social security appeals. I’ve enjoyed digging deeper into these topics. On top of that, being behind the scenes during settlement conferences has been a very interesting experience. Considering the majority of cases usually settle before trial, this externship gave me a lot of insight into what the usually closed-door process looks like, as well as what judges are paying attention to when trying to come to an equitable resolution.

Q: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST CHALLENGING ASSIGNMENT THUS FAR?

A: The most challenging assignment I’ve worked on thus far has been drafting an order for a social security appeal. This requires going through the individual’s medical records to determine if, at some point, the Social Security Administration made a mistake in evaluating a claim. This is a topic with which I didn’t have much experience, but organization and attention to detail have been key to getting it done.

Q: WHAT NEW LEGAL SKILLS HAVE YOU ACQUIRED DURING YOUR SUMMER JOB?

A: A lot of my existing skills have improved throughout my experience — my research skills have become more effective and efficient. My legal writing is improving as I am exposed to a variety of well-crafted legal briefs. Additionally, my general understanding of how cases are conducted has developed from seeing it in action. I’ve also been exposed to many different lawyering styles, and it has been valuable to observe what kind of oral advocacy strategies are more effective than others.

Q: WHAT BIT OF LEGAL KNOWLEDGE HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO DISPLAY?

A: Civil procedure has come up the most during my time in federal court. My Civil Procedure course with Professor Allan Ides provided me with a good foundational understanding of the rules so that I can contribute in discussions on developments in the area. Additionally, the tips I learned in Legal Research class with Professor David Burch have been a great help.

Q: HOW HAS LOYOLA HELPED YOU MAP YOUR CAREER PATH?

A: I came to law school with an idea of what kind of law I eventually wanted to do, but unsure of the path to get there. The Career Development Office has been very helpful in letting us know what kind of opportunities are available, what may be worthwhile given my interests and how to best position myself to get there. My counselor, Jolene Horn, has been a great help since our first meeting. And every faculty member and professor I’ve reached out to throughout the year for advice and insight has been equally supportive. Loyola offers so many hands-on opportunities related to whatever field of law you’re interested in— I’m grateful for the opportunity to fit as many different enlightening experiences in these three years as I can.