Law Clerk for the Honorable Joel F. Dubina, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Ms. Chriss is currently a term law clerk for the Honorable Joel F. Dubina, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Montgomery, Alabama. In Judge Dubina’s chambers, there are two administrative assistants, one career law clerk, and three other term law clerks besides Ms. Chriss. This court handles civil and criminal cases that are appealed from district courts in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
Before law school, Ms. Chriss served as a legal assistant in a small personal injury/medical malpractice firm. During law school, she served as teaching assistant to Professor Camilla Watson (criminal law) and Assistant Professor Nathaniel Grow in the Terry College of Business (introduction to legal studies). She was a summer intern at CSX Transportation, Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida and a summer associate at Paul Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, LLP in Atlanta. Upon graduating from Georgia Law and taking the bar, Ms. Chriss clerked for the Hon. Susan S. Cole, magistrate judge for the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, in Gainesville, Georgia.
Ms. Chriss became interested in clerking during her 2L year after professors and her fellow students began discussing it. She reached out to an acquaintance who had clerked for both a district judge and a circuit judge who explained that clerking can be beneficial for those interested in litigation or eventually becoming a judge or law professor. The firm with which Ms. Chriss summered encouraged her to pursue clerking and she is very happy with her choice to do so.
As far as interviewing is concerned, Ms. Chriss encourages current students and recent graduates to be equal parts professional and personable. By the interview stage, the employer has already decided that the interviewee is qualified for the position. The interview is largely to find out how the interviewee will fit in the workplace. Be polite always, but also engage in conversation. Act genuinely interested in the firm and the position. Come with questions, do not forget to shake hands, stand up when the employer enters the room, etc. First impressions are incredibly important. In her experience, writing a handwritten thank you note after the interview can only help.
Ms. Chriss advises students and recent graduates to not underestimate the power of networking. Start building relationships with your professors and classmates now. These relationships are building blocks to your success as a lawyer. Do not be afraid to reach out to your professors for advice and letters of recommendation. You might be surprised how willing they are to help—you just have to make the first move. However, you must put in the work. You cannot expect to get a glowing recommendation from a professor in a class of 75 people without getting involved in class discussion. This does not mean you have to raise your hand all the time, but be thoughtful and engaged when you do. Ms. Chriss was fortunate to build lasting relationships with some of her professors while in law school, and she largely has them to thank for many of the opportunities she has been given.