When There Are Nine Scholarship Project
Inspired by a commitment to honor the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the When There Are Nine Scholarship Project (“WTA9 Scholarship”) was founded in 2020 in partnership with the Federal Bar Foundation (the “Foundation”) by a group of women who served together as Assistant United States Attorneys in the Southern District of New York. The scholarship seeks to advance equity and diversity within the legal profession by expanding career opportunities for women attorneys and supporting those attorneys in their legal educations and careers.
Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer and pioneering advocate for women’s rights. A Brooklyn native, she graduated first in her class from Columbia Law School while raising her young daughter and supporting her husband through his cancer treatment. Justice Ginsburg repeatedly overcame the gender discrimination she would later spend the better part of her career seeking to eradicate in the courts, and her advocacy and the cases that she won opened doors for so many women. The founding members of the Project, all of whom had the privilege of serving in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, benefitted greatly from Justice Ginsburg’s efforts and, upon her passing, established the Project to honor her legacy by encouraging future generations of women to pursue rewarding careers in the law and making those career choices financially accessible.
The WTA9 Scholarship is administered by the Federal Bar Foundation (“Foundation”), a New York 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that supports the activities of the Federal Bar Council (“FBC”). The FBC is an association of lawyers who practice in federal courts within the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to which Justice Ginsburg was assigned.
Each WTA9 Scholarship Recipient (“Recipient”) will be granted $10,000 per academic year. In addition, Recipients will be assigned mentors who will provide support and guidance throughout the Recipient’s law school and early professional career. Recipients are expected to maintain regular communication with their mentors and attend regular events with their mentors. In collaboration with the Foundation, Recipients will be permitted to participate in FBC meetings and events while in law school and will receive membership to the FBC for the two years following their graduation.
Scholarship Recipient Requirements
Recipients must maintain regular communication with their mentors as described above and actively participate in mentorship programming. In addition, within six months of graduation from law school, Recipients shall provide a written description of the impact of the WTA9 Scholarship on their legal career. Recipients also shall agree to be reasonably available for outreach and development work.
Use of Scholarships
Recipients are required to use financial awards to pay for tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at law school, or for fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses at the law schools attended by the Recipients.
The 2023-2024 WTA9 Scholarship is open to all women, including students who consistently live and self- identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth. Additionally, applicants must:
- Intend to enroll or currently be enrolled in an ABA-accredited J.D. program with a graduation date of 2024-2027;
- Have financial need;
- Have a strong record of academic achievement; and
- Demonstrate some ties to New York City, such as family ties, law school, or an intent to practice in or around New York City after graduation.
The Selection Committee values all types of diversity, and welcomes candidates from all backgrounds and life experiences. Although not required, the Selection Committee encourages applicants with a demonstrated interest in public service, or who are otherwise committed to giving back to the community.
While applicants need not have been admitted to law school at the time of their application, finalists will be required to inform the Selection Committee as to the law school they have committed to attend. All Finalists will also be required to provide a letter from their law school’s financial aid office that details their financial aid package, and to interview with the Selection Committee.
How to Apply
Click on the "Register" link and complete and submit the registration form.
Login to the system with your email and password.
Create your online application.
During the Call for Applications period, your application can be saved as DRAFT until all the required information is completed and attachments uploaded. As each section is complete, you will see a appear in the category tab when the application is saved. At any time, you can download and print your application by clicking on the icon in the Application Summary section.
On completion, save your Application as FINAL. Download and print a copy of your application for your records by clicking on the icon in the Application Summary section in the right column. Note: If an update is required prior to the Call for Applications period, you can make the update and resave as FINAL.
If you require assistance or additional information, please contact the Award Administrator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please review the below listed FAQs before reaching out to the program administrator.
- Can I attach an addendum to the WTA9 application I submitted?
To ensure fairness, please do not upload or attach any documents that are not requested. Please provide all answers to questions in the fields provided. Any documents that are submitted that were not requested will not be considered.
- I have not received my official financial aid award letter yet. What am I required to submit?
Only those applicants selected as finalists will be required to submit proof of financial aid. Please do not submit any financial aid documentation with your application. If you are selected as a finalist, you will be contacted separately and your financial information will be requested at that time.
- Is an official transcript required?
No, applicants may submit an unofficial transcript, including a printed copy of grades from a web portal. However, the Selection Committee reserves the right to request an official transcript and the right to verify grades during its selection process.
- I have not been admitted to law school however I am on several wait lists. Am I eligible to apply?
We are currently only accepting applications for those students who have been accepted to an ABA-accredited J.D. program with a graduation date of 2024-2027 and intend to enroll or are currently enrolled in the program.
- I am currently a pre-law institute student. Am I eligible to apply?
We are currently only accepting applications for those students who have been accepted to an ABA-accredited J.D. program with a graduation date of 2024-2027 and intend to enroll or are currently enrolled in the program.
- I am enrolling into a part-time J.D. program or am currently enrolled in a part-time program. Am I eligible to apply?
Students who have been accepted to an ABA-accredited J.D. program, part-time or full-time, with a graduation date of 2024-2027 and intend to enroll or are currently enrolled in the program are eligible to apply.
- I am currently admitted to an LLM program or intend to enroll in an LLM program. Am I eligible to apply?
Unfortunately, students who are enrolled in an LLM program are not eligible for the WTAN Scholarship. We are only accepting applications for those students who have been accepted to an ABA-accredited J.D. program with a graduation date of 2024-2027 and intend to enroll or are currently enrolled in the program.
- I will not have my grades for the spring semester by the May 1 deadline. Should I submit an updated transcript after I receive my Spring grades?
Please submit a copy of your most recent transcript at the time of your application. If the Selection committee wishes to view your Spring 2023 grades, you will be contacted with instructions on how to submit an updated transcript. The Selection Committee reserves the right to request an official transcript and the right to verify grades during its selection process.
- How many scholarships are awarded per year and how large is the applicant pool?
In 2021, The When There Are Nine Scholarship Project received nearly 400 applications. The number of scholarships awarded per academic year may vary and will be in the sole discretion the WTA9 Steering Committee.
- Who should I list as a reference? When can I tell my references to expect to be contacted?
Applicants should list references that are familiar with their academic ability, their scholarship, their professional accomplishments and goals as well as their contributions to their community. The Selection Committee will only contact references for those individuals who are selected as finalists. Should the Selection Committee decide to contact references, this contact will happen at some time during Summer 2023. The Selection Committee will attempt to contact references by phone and email and provide a reasonable about of time for references to respond.
I. BEFORE OCI
Research areas of law:
- Look for opportunities to talk to a wide variety of attorneys about their careers and practices.
- Set up "informational interviews" with any attorney in your network who practices a type of law you may be interested in. Don't limit yourself.
- Many attorneys are happy to discuss their careers with students and respond well to a polite email asking if they have time to grab coffee and chat.
- If you don't get a response from someone or they are too busy to meet, don't take it personally! Many attorneys are very busy, so cast a wide net.
- If you reach out and get no response, it's probably ok to follow up once; after that, if they don't respond, let it drop.
- When meeting with an attorney, do a little research into their biography and area of practice. Have a few questions ready to go, but attorneys are usually very willing to talk about themselves. Also be prepared to give a brief backstory on yourself and your interests.
- "Consider asking about the attorney's day-to-day practice" – what kind of clients do they represent and in what kind of proceedings? What statutes or aspects of the common law do they litigate under? What client concerns or fact patterns do they commonly encounter? Do they spend a lot of their time on research and writing or do they do more negotiating? What makes their practice different from others?
- Consider asking about how the attorney works with associates. What kind of tasks do they delegate to associates? How does that vary from associate to associate? Why is that?
Reach out to connections and network:
- This is one of the most important things you can do. You need to know what you are getting into. And attorneys want to know you if you bothered to research their firm and they want to know if you will "fit" into the firm and meet the firm's needs.
- One overall point – you don't want to ask questions about topics you could research on your own (think, "where does the firm have offices?"). You want to ask questions that show more sophisticated thinking (think, "Who is a typical client in the firm's employment law cases" or "Does the firm's securities law practice focused entirely on defensive cases or are you ever on plaintiff's side?")
- There are many resources available to assist law students with their job search. Chambers Associates and other websites like it provide background on firm culture, prominent practice areas and clients, notable representations, associate life, development opportunities, and compensation.
- Cross reference the list of firms recruiting at your school's OCI with these databases. Make a note of firms that stand out for positive reasons or for negative reasons.
- Later, you may wish to make an Excel spreadsheet or other tool to help you compare and contrast firms.
Materials to prepare in advance of the interview:
- Reach out to anyone you know, including friends of friends and distant family members, who works at your desired firm.
- If appropriate given your relationship with that person, ask if they can put in a good word with you with whoever is doing recruitment/screening.
- Ask about their OCI experience: What was successful? Unsuccessful? What do they wish they had done differently or known?
- Ask about their experience at the firm: What surprised them, in a good way or bad way? What do they wish they had asked their interviewers? What has made them a successful attorney?
- Try to do this by phone or zoom, not email. If a contact has something negative to say about another firm (or their own) they will likely not want to put that in writing, but might be candid in a conversation.
- Writing Sample.You might be asked to submit a writing sample. Aim for something that will have an impact and that you feel comfortable discussing at the interview. Reread it before the interviews – you should be totally fluent discussing it if someone has questions about it.
- Resume. Consider including a few interests that can help break the ice and foster a connection with the interviewer. Consider having tailored versions of your resume for different recipients that emphasize different experiences/interests, depending on what you're interviewing for (this is not necessary, but can be helpful for those with varied experiences). Again, be fluent about everything on your resume – your undergraduate classes, your law school papers, etc.
- LinkedIn. Consider creating a LinkedIn and joining relevant academic networks. You can use the search features to find and connect with your college or law school's alumni at the firm.
- Interview Responses:
- Consider drafting an annotated version of your resume that includes one story you could tell about every item listed. If you can't say anything interesting about it, take the item off your resume.
- Think about how to answer questions like "Tell me about yourself" and "What is the most challenging experience you have had in law school or in another job?" "What is a challenging legal issue you faced in a class or clinic and how did you think it through?" Questions like this are easy for interviewers, but also give them an opportunity to assess you in a range of ways, e.g., can you comfortably handle open-ended questions; how you respond to challenging situations; how comprehensively can you describe legal issues, etc. More specific suggestions for common questions are below.
- Take advantage of any practice interviews that your school's office of career services may offer.
- Practice answering questions in front of a mirror.
- Prepare anecdotes or specific responses to expected questions: your favorite classes, your hardest project, your future interests, jobs before law school, undergraduate classes, etc.
- Strongly consider videoing yourself.
- Use all your bids; cast a wide net.
- Find a system that works for you to keep track of different hiring schedules (e.g., calendar holds, excels, charts).
II. DURING THE OCI PROCESS
Tips for common questions:
- For each firm, be ready to articulate why you are interested in that specific firm. Part of getting an offer is showing that you know what the firm is about and that you would be a good fit. You could identify a particular characteristic of each firm that you like and can use to explain why you are interested in that specific firm.
- Ensure that you can keep firm names and key characteristics straight. Consider bringing a notebook to the interview.
- Do some brief research on your interviewers: What kind of law do they practice? What other experience do they have? You won’t be able to reference this research during the interview, but write it down and keep it in one place for easy reference between interviews.
- Consider prepping a brief "connection point" for each interviewer, and glance at it before you go in (when you're meeting a dozen people back-to-back, they begin to blur together). For example, you both studied philosophy, played soccer as undergrads, or you have an interest in healthcare and their firm bio shows they were recently involved in a big healthcare case.
- Be polite but keep the conversation flowing. Don't be afraid to be friendly or ask questions. Allow your personality and interests to show. Use the research you have done on the firm and have a handful of questions about the firm: questions about practice areas, opportunities for associate development (e.g., training, pro bono); office culture.
- Don't express interest in an area of law the firm does not practice.
- You don't need to know what kind of law you want to practice. If you have a general idea or a few ideas about what you'd like to try, that's great. But, you can always explain that you're not sure yet and are open to trying a variety of things. always explain that you're not sure yet and are open to trying a variety of things.
- If you plan to express an interest in a specific area of law, keep track of news and trends that are relevant to the field.
- Be prepared to answer the broad questions: "tell me about yourself" or "walk me through your resume." Briefly tell your interviewer where are you are from and have gone to school, what you studied or specialized in as an undergraduate, why you decided to go to law school, and how your law school experience has been so far. This is your "elevator pitch" and should provide jumping off points for the interviewer to begin asking you follow-up questions. Try not to be overly rehearsed or simply reiterate things already on your resume; a dynamic response that is somewhat tailored to the interviewer/firm can provide for a more interesting and memorable conversation.
- "Describe a challenging experience in [law school, other job, or other setting]."This is an opportunity for you to show how you came up with a creative solution, collaborated, were able to handle constructive criticism.
- Be prepared to talk about your prior work experience and explain how it helped you develop skills transferrable to the legal setting. This can include people and communication skills, organization skills, and time management skills.
- Be prepared to talk about your favorite class and/or experience of law school so far.
- Be prepared to explain what it is you like about law and legal practice: do you like talking about complex ideas? Writing? Crafting legal arguments and martialing facts to support them?
- Be prepared to say why you want to live in the location where you're interviewing, especially if your resume indicates you've mostly lived elsewhere.
- Avoid sounding scripted. If you can, enjoy the conversation and see it as an opportunity to learn more about someone’s practice of law.
- At this stage, you are not expected to display a fulsome understanding of how to practice law. Focus instead on displaying your analytical skills, practice group interest(s), interest in the firm, and eagerness to learn.
- Consider creating an excel to keep track of interviewers, their practice area, and their contact information. Down the line, this may help prepare for any follow-up interviews at the same firm.
- Acknowledge interview invitations and do your best to send thank you notes within one business day. These notes should be personalized, but can be short and sweet. No need to overdo it. You can address attorneys by their first name. Emails are fine – no need for handwritten notes.
- A suit (pants or skirt) or a dress and blazer is highly recommended and almost universally expected. You should look as professional as possible. Avoid clothing or anything else that could distract from your academic and professional accomplishments. Solid, dark colors (black, navy, etc.) and simple jewelry will be the least distracting for the interviewer. Many of us have vivid wardrobe-gone- wrong memories – whether in an interview or in court before a particularly brutal judge. It might help to recall that as a lawyer, while you have to be yourself, you are quite literally representing someone else -- so your professionalism, first and foremost, should be on display. So when you select what to wear, be the neatest, most professional version of yourself!
- If the interview process involves meals, order food that is familiar to you and easy to eat, and it is probably best to forego alcohol.
III. AFTER OCI
- The waiting game. Expect rejection but do not take it personally. Firms receive large numbers of applicants and cannot extend callbacks and offers to even the most qualified of candidates.
- Reflect on what went well and why, what went badly and why, and then trust yourself.
- Don’t be limited by whatever avenues your school presents (OCI or otherwise). Do your own research. Many all law firms and employers allow you to submit an application directly on their website.
IV. THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN BEFORE OCI
- Informational interviews are a great tool. Don’t worry about being a burden on the lawyer – people don’t agree to do them unless they want to. People like mentoring and helping younger people, and even if they don’t have a job to offer at that moment, they might be able to connect you to someone who does.
- You may and most people will wear their interview attire (i.e., suit) to post-interview cocktails and dinners. When in doubt, be more formal, not less formal, than the lawyers interviewing you.
- Employers want to know that YOU are interested in THEM, as well as the other way around.
- Find a great book or something to occupy your mind during callbacks.
- You won’t personally connect with everyone you speak to. That’s not a reflection on you and need not influence your chance of success at a firm.
- Life is long and if you don’t have the perfect resume or get the perfect job, you can build your experience and resume to broaden your chances. And if you can afford it, you can make choices that make you a better lawyer early in your career. Opportunities for higher earning will likely come the better and more interesting your resume.
- Talk to older law students – they have been through this recently, know the most recent word-of-mouth details, and will be the most candid.
V. RESOURCES FOR OCI
Resources for OCI:
- 8 Tips For On-Campus Interviewing, Above the Law (Aug. 6, 2014), https://abovethelaw.com/2014/08/8-tips-for-on-campus-interviewing/
- OCI Advice from the interviewers, Chambers Associate, https://www.chambers-associate.com/where-to-start/commercial- awareness/oci-advice-from-the-interviewers
- Preparing for Interviews, Columbia Law School, https://www.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/2020-02/preparing_for_interviews.pdf
- Make the Most of Law School Recruiting Events, U.S. News (Sept. 5, 2016), https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/law-admissions-lowdown/articles/2016-09-05/make-the-most-of-law-school-recruiting-events
- What is the Timetable for Legal Recruitment, NALP (2023), https://www.nalp.org/pre-law_timetable
- On-Campus Interviews, Chambers Associate, https://www.chambers-associate.com/where-to-start/getting-hired/on-campus-interviews
- The Law Student’s Interview Cheat Sheet, Dan Binstock, BCG, https://www.law.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/The-Law-Students-Interview-Cheat-Sheet.pdf
I. CLERKSHIP APPLICATIONS
A clerkship can enormously benefit your future career opportunities – particularly if you are focusing on litigation or if you are considering going into government work. There is a wide range of clerkship experience to be had, beginning with the type of court you may choose to apply to. Law students should consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of clerking for different types of courts, such as federal vs. state, trial vs. appellate, among other options.
TYPE OF CLERKSHIP APPLICATIONS
State vs. Federal
Trial Court vs. Appellate Court
- Federal clerkships are generally thought to be more competitive and more prestigious; however, state clerkships may be especially advantageous for students wishing to practice in the state of their clerkship. In fact, students with strong geographical ties to the jurisdiction likely have an advantage in applying to state clerkships.
- If you want to be an appellate litigator, an appellate clerkship is a practical, if not explicit, requirement.
- District/trial court clerkships can be more dynamic as clerks may assist with docket management, at hearings and trials, and communicate directly with parties and counsel.
- Clerks at the appellate level work mostly with their co-clerks, their judge, and perhaps the clerks of other judges.
- Clerks at both levels do extensive legal research and writing.
- Many applicants find that a trial court clerkship assists them in obtaining an appellate court clerkship, but this not always the case.
- Some non-Article III judges take on law clerks; these include bankruptcy judges and administrative law judges. You also may have the opportunity to clerk at the U.S. Court of International Trade or for an international tribunal. These clerkships are likely to be highly valued by the parts of the legal community practicing that type of law. If you have no interest in that type of law, the clerkship could be less valuable.
- Magistrate judges work in federal district court but are not Article III judges and only receive cases by referral. These judges may not have as many trials and may be more focused on specific parts of litigation like discovery or settlement conferences. But the experience will still give you wide exposure to litigation. Clerking for a magistrate judge can also increase your changes of obtaining a district court clerkship.
Recruit the assistance of connections and professors:
- Apply early, widely, and often.
- For Federal clerkships, many judges follow "the Plan" and will only accept applications from law students after their 2L year via OSCAR. However, nonfederal and many federal judges do not follow the Plan.
- You should begin research into clerkships as early in your law school career as is workable. Identify judges you may want to clerk for who do not follow the Plan and send in direct applications as soon as the judge will accept them.
- For federal judges who do follow the Plan, complete your applications before applications are released to chambers in mid-June after your 2L year.
- Keep track of newly appointed judges who may be recruiting at unusual times.
- Monitor OSCAR for newly available applications.
- If you have the opportunity to write a cover letter, be sure to mention anything you have in common with the judge or any reason that you are particularly interested in working with that judge or in that court.
- Apply as broadly as possible.
- You may be tempted to apply for clerkships only in your current city or state of residence, or a few other major metropolitan areas. Cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago are extremely competitive markets for clerkship applicants. If you apply exclusively in these areas, your chances of obtaining a clerkship are significantly reduced. Send applications to judges all over the country. Try to remain open to living anywhere - it is only for a year or two and can be an eye-opening experience.
- Geographic relocation is a difficult aspect of clerkship applications and can be more challenging for students who have family responsibilities or are caretakers. Nonetheless, it is a reality of which you should be aware.
- If you apply to clerkships in your local area or an area to which you have a connection, make sure to highlight your geographic connection in your cover letter.
- Adhere closely to the judge's application requirements. Many judges do not have unique requirements for the applicants, but many others do and will not consider applications that do not meet those requirements.
- Don't hesitate to update your applications if you get a new internship or award, or if your GPA goes up.
- If you know a judge or know someone who knows a judge, do not hesitate to reach out about clerkship opportunities.
- Form connections with professors who are former clerks and/or sit on your school's clerkship committee. Ask for their advice about who to apply to and what to include in your application. They may be willing to review and provide feedback on your writing sample. As appropriate, keep them apprised of where you have applied and ask them to call chambers to recommend you, even if they have already written you a recommendation letter. They may also have connections or personal relationships.
- Identify former clerks in your network, including professors, whose judges are still on the bench. Reach out to ask about their experience and for advice regarding applications, and where appropriate, ask if they would consider recommending you to their judge.
- Many judges teach law school classes. Getting to know a judge as your professor is a great opportunity to demonstrate your talents and gain an ally who can recommend you to fellow judges, or possibly invite you to apply for a clerkship in their chambers.
- Interning for a judge during law school is another great way to create a clerkship opportunity. Many judges have a policy of not hiring their interns as law clerks but they will recommend you to fellow judges if you distinguish yourself.
- The clerkship application process can be grueling and discouraging. Try to find an established attorney or professional with clerkship experience who is willing to be your champion.
POST-LAW SCHOOL CLERKSHIP APPLICATIONS
- If you have not applied for a clerkship during your 2L year, all is not lost. Many judges look favorably on applications from 3Ls or law school graduates and a number of judges actually require their clerks to have post-law school work experience. You will have to work this out with a prospective employer; many, though not all, law firms are very accommodating of clerkships, particularly federal clerkships.
- There are a few advantages to applying for a clerkship once you have started working: you may get to know law firm partners or other senior attorneys who know judges and can recommend you. Having represented clients can enrich your clerkship experience and make you a better clerk. And if you are thinking of only spending a few years at a law firm, clerking can provide you with a graceful exit from the firm and will create a new opportunity to interview for post-clerkship jobs.
- Unlike a law firm, clerking for a judge is a very personal experience. You will be devoting all of your efforts to one person, so demonstrating your ability to work well with the judge is key to obtaining and succeeding in the clerkship.
- The singularity of the clerkship is also a reason to take feedback on the judge into consideration. While rumor and conjecture are not helpful, credible reports that a judge is a difficult boss should factor into your application decisions.
- In the best of circumstances, the judge you clerk for can be an important mentor throughout your career.