Summer Job Diaries: Rising 2L Matthew Babb '24 Applies Civil Procedure Skills in District Court Judicial Externship
Matthew Babb '24, a judicial extern to Chief Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, is spending the summer developing PACER research skills and applying his training in Civil Procedure to the workings of the court.
How did you land your summer job?
Coming into law school, I knew I was interested in how the courts work, especially since it is in their hallowed halls that justice is decided. So I decided early on in 1L to apply for judicial externships for my 2L summer. I’m glad I made this decision early as the application process––and the sheer number of applications one sends out––takes a significant amount of work. Not only did I need time to put together my materials (e.g. resume, cover letter, writing sample), but I also needed time to look into which judges and courthouses I wanted to apply to. The last thing I wanted was to apply blindly and find myself in the awkward position of having an offer that may not have been a great fit for my interests. Fortunately, all of these efforts paid off. I applied for externships in early December 2021 and within a few weeks got an offer to work in the chambers of Chief Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez of the United States District Court for the Central District of California!
What is the most interesting part of your job?
The most interesting part of my job is absolutely the variety of projects and cases on which I’ve been able to work. No two cases are ever alike and it is amazing how even the smallest of details can lead to one case being decided differently than another.
What has been your most challenging assignment thus far?
I can’t say much about the assignment as the underlying case is still pending before the court, but I can say it has been an incredibly challenging case involving various motions and requiring me to research several complicated legal topics and issues. While this assignment has tested my skills and knowledge, it has also greatly accelerated my legal training and been an excellent introduction to legal practice. I have learned a lot!
What new legal skill have you acquired during your summer job?
I have learned a number of new legal research and writing skills that will be essential to my career. Perhaps the most surprising is learning how to navigate and effectively use the PACER and related systems to find court documents. Accessing such documents is critically important to litigation and legal research. Yet it is amazing how many documents can be involved in just one case! I’ve found that using PACER can be just as, if not more, important to researching a case than Westlaw or Lexis.
What bit of legal knowledge have you been able to display?
I have used almost EVERYTHING I’ve learned in Civil Procedure during my short time with the court. Pleadings, rule 12(b)(6), default judgment, summary judgment, judgment as a matter of law, joinder, subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, venue, class actions––I’ve used my knowledge of all of it! It is really hard to understate how important procedure is to the practice of the law. Every case, no matter the practice area, requires knowing the procedures of the court and how they can be used to advance a client’s interests.
How has Loyola helped you map your career path?
My first year at Loyola has been instrumental to helping me map my career path. The professors and curriculum are excellent. I haven’t yet decided what practice areas I want to pursue, but I nevertheless feel that I now have a strong understanding of the core areas and am prepared to explore more advanced topics. In addition, Loyola’s Career Development Office and Field Placement Department have been phenomenal resources. I wouldn’t have gotten my externship without them and highly recommend every student utilize them!